DENVER - NASCAR fans know Denver has a NASCAR racing team. While few get to see the Furniture Row Racing operation, we're going to take you inside their garage and tell some of their secrets. Let's go inside the only NASCAR team garage west of the Mississippi.
Secret #1: While they normally take just two race cars to a regular race, they're taking four cars to Daytona this week.
See the sign above the car? Yep, the primary car for the next race has its own slot in the garage. So does the backup car.
Have you seen the driver inside the car hitting a switch to start the engine at the beginning of a race? Ever wondered what the rest of those buttons do?
Secret #2: most of those buttons are for fans. Yes, there's a button to start the car. But most of those buttons are to turn on fans for the tires, the brakes and even the driver.
By the way, while it may looked cramped, this worker said there's plenty of leg room and he could take a nap in there!
When you look at a NASCAR car, is it shiny like these?
Secret #3: It turns out not all NASCAR cars have glossy paint. The glossy paint needs more layers and that adds weight to the car. NASCAR teams don't want that extra weight. Furniture Row only uses glossy paint on cars going to the "Super Speedway" tracks like Daytona and Talladega. For other tracks, they use a flat black paint.
Ever wondered how many cars a NASCAR team needs for a season?
Secret #4: At Furniture Row, they're operating 14 cars for the season. Do you see that frame above the car? That's a template that comes from NASCAR to make sure all the race cars conform to certain standards.
Every car body goes to NASCAR to get certified. When the chassis comes back, the team uses the templates in different parts of the shop to make sure the car still meets the NASCAR standards. Let's say you add some bondo on a seam of the car and sand it down, now you've got to put the car back on the template to make sure it still fits the standards.
Secret #5: Furniture Row is not making its own chassis. As part of their partnership with Richard Childress Racing, RCR builds chassis for Furniture Row. How closely does the Furniture Row team work with RCR? They said they are in daily contact.
Secret #6: The Furniture Row team has 4 different setups. They have one setup for short tracks (under one mile), intermediate courses (1 mile to 1 1/2 miles), Super Speedways (2+ miles) and road courses.
By the way, take a good look at the lights on those cars.
Secret #7: A lot of the stuff on the outside of the car is FAKE! Those brake lights, that exhaust pipe -- all fake. They are just decals.
When you watch a NASCAR race, you'll occasionally see the drivers coming and going from their haulers. Want to know what's inside?
Secret #8: The Furniture Row team not only carries two race-ready cars in there, they have enough parts, minus the chassis, to build another car. They call it their "shop away from the shop."
Back inside the garage, they've got everything. There is a parts' area with multiples of everything from the smallest bolts...
To any part they may need.
Secret #9: The garage is 35,000-square feet. That's nearly an acre of indoor space.
As you walk around the garage, there are special areas for building the car and testing the car.
There's the fabrication shop...
The carbon fiber area...
Secret #10: In one corner of the garage is an important state-of-the art device that simulates the conditions of each track.
That is a Seven-Post Testing Machine (above). It uses GPS mapping of each track to put the car through a simulated race that includes shaking the car on the bumpy sections of the track and changing the height to simulate the banking of the track, so engineers can check the suspension and much more.
There's also the "set-up plates" and "scale pads" area (below). On the day we visited, the No. 1 backup car for Daytona was being worked on here.
The loudest place in the shop is the dyno. Here the car motor is tweaked and tuned. Listen to the sound of 9,500 rpm and 900 horsepower.
How many people does it take to do all this?
Secret #11: 60 people work at this shop -- they build and fine-tune the cars for race day.
And while the team is looking forward to the next race and the new season, they don't forget their victories.
Furniture Row Racing has two trophies on display:
That's the trophy from May 7, 2011 when the Furniture Row team won at Darlington.
And that's the trophy the team won in 2013 when Kurt Busch came in 10th in the chase. It was the first time in the history of the Chase that a single-car team made NASCAR’s version of the playoffs.
Secret #12: You can visit the Furniture Row Racing garage yourself! They offer tours every Thursday at 2 p.m. Learn more on Furniture Row's website.