COMMENTARY: If you think NASCAR has made some questionable or stupid rules in the recent past, you will not believe the rule NASCAR made in 1991. The rule was not only strange but it was very confusing to the fans and the drivers as well.
The previous year at Atlanta, Bill Elliott was making pit stops with all of the other drivers when Ricky Rudd spun in the pits and ran into Bill Elliott’s pit crew member Mike Ritch. This prompted NASCAR to make a series of rule changes to pit road.
Some were basic rules that we sometimes over look today. Like the pit-board where a crew member who stood at the front of the pit stall and held a sign for his driver to see his pit. Today we see that with the metal pole with usually the drivers number hanging over the pit stall.
NASCAR put pit road speed limits into effect and they also made pit road closed at certain times to reduce the mad rush into the pits. They were the rules that made NASCAR safer but NASCAR had one more rule that was a little different.
To reduce the mad rush down pit road for the 1991 season, NASCAR mandated two pace cars under caution flags. One car would lead the cars around the race tracks as usual and the other would lead them down pit road. Under yellow flag conditions, cars were not allowed to make tire changes and were penalized if they did. Cars were designated odd or even based on their starting position: odd cars had a blue sticker placed on the cars and even cars had a orange sticker. On the second green flag lap odd cars were allowed to pit and on the third green flag lap the even cars were allowed to pit. The idea was less cars making pit stops at one time. If a car pitted with the wrong group there was a harsh one lap penalty. There was also a 15 second penalty for overshooting your pit.
The new rules really affected the race itself because when Bill Elliot cut a tire he was not allowed to change tires under yellow and because of the rule he limped around the track and when he finally got the chance to pit his car suffered enough damage to take him out of contention. The rules were slowly changed or scrapped and by the tenth race of the season at North Wilkesboro when the blue/orange rule was completely scrapped.
So out of all of the rules NASCAR has placed in the last few years there is not one that is more confusing then the 1991 pit road rule.