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Changing Tires for Time: How CrossFit and a Focus on Stability Keep Rearden Racing’s Crew Chief Competitive

November 29, 2021 by
Photo Credit: EMOM Photo (https://www.instagram.com/emomphoto/)
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CrossFit has become a training style for people that want to better tackle their day-to-day lives. For some, this means doing a 12-mile hike or helping a friend move at the drop of a hat. Jason Jannetti uses CrossFit to perform well for a race team. 

One big thing: A former affiliate owner, Jannetti now works as a crew chief and a tire carrier for Rearden Racing, a team that competes in the GT World Challenge America Pro-Am series. He plays a key role in whether the No. 91 Burton Lumber Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO achieves success at some of the most prestigious road courses on the schedule like Watkins Glen International, Road America, or Circuit of the Americas. 

  • The 2021 season featured several race weekends, starting with Sonoma Raceway in March and ending with the famed Brickyard, Indianapolis Motor Speedway in October. 
  • Rearden Racing achieved some success during the season. The team won two races while competing on the full schedule.

Lift heavy, move fast: As a tire carrier, Jannetti has an important task. He has to get the massive tires from the staging area to the tire changer on pit road. This forces him to carry a tire in each arm while wearing a full fire suit with a helmet and balaclava. 

  • “Regular drive tires with the wheels. I think they’re exactly 50 pounds apiece,” Jannetti says. “The rain tires are miserable. They’re — they’ve got to be like 70-75 pounds — I absolutely hate doing those but they’re good to train with when you go from rain to drive. When you go from drive to rain, it feels like you are carrying 100 pounds.”
  • “I kind of felt like it was my responsibility to make sure I could go out there and cruise with those things … After you get the right front on the car, everything else is carrying. You’ve got to run around the car with basically 100 pounds worth of wheels and tires in your hands.”

The GT World Challenge America Pro-Am Series pit stops take place at a slightly slower speed. These aren’t the stops where teams change all four tires in a matter of seconds as in NASCAR or Formula One. There are driver changes that take place while the pit crew uses a more methodical approach. However, they can’t afford to have any mistakes.

You’ve got to run around the car with basically 100 pounds work of wheels and tires in your hands.

Jason Jannetti

The heavy tire weights forced Jannetti to make some adjustments to his training style. He focuses on two things — keeping up with tire changers without sacrificing strength and ensuring that he has a strong core that will help him avoid any injuries. 

  • “I have a guy that’s kind of guiding me along,” Jannetti says. “I haven’t been doing any group classes. Because I’m not an old man, but I’m 40 and I’m getting up there. So things are starting to ache. I went pretty hard in the CrossFit space for quite a while.”
  • “I take pride in having really good technique, you know, on Olympic lifting and squats and things like that. But I’ve done my fair share of stupid things. I’m working on fixing some of that.” 

Functional bodybuilding: Jannetti’s sessions take on a slightly slower pace as he focuses on stability and strength-building, functional movements. Shoulders and core are particular points of emphasis. Though he still has testing days involving cardio. 

  • “It definitely helps to be able to have stability and not worry about an injury from running around with heavy stuff if you’re not used to that. If you’re somebody who just trains like Fran every day, you’re probably going to be fine, but you might not have the strength to be carrying 100-140 pounds running 100 miles an hour to do specific things.”
  • “I mean, if you don’t have enough stability in your shoulders or things like that or you don’t have a lot of flexibility then you could end up with an injury or something like that. … I definitely think that kind of cruising around with heavy weights and things and focusing on stability is a big deal.” 

Bottom line: The CrossFit training style has a variety of benefits for people who follow it and work with reputable coaches. Some simply achieve a healthier lifestyle and make strides in their personal lives while others use it to succeed in a staggering assortment of businesses. Jannetti falls into the latter group and continues to make strides in a very challenging profession. 

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