Click on the image to see the Xpress Motorsports Shop Tour Photo Gallery
When you pull up to the Xpress Motorsports shop, the last thing you envision inside the walls of the unassuming building is a crew of men building trucks that have raced to two of the past three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championships. But one look inside the doors offers just that: inside the 12,000 square foot building are 20-some men working on a fleet of trucks that three-time series champion Jack Sprague and rookie of the year contender Regan Smith will wheel in 2005.
While small in comparison to many of the shops in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, and even against several shops in the Truck Series, Xpress has no problems with the size of their facility.
"We have no problems with the size of our shop," said new team owner Dave Fuge. "We will have 14 trucks in here for both drivers once we get fully up to speed, and we'll have 30 guys working here. It's not as big as many of the other shops, but we work hard to maximize all of the available space we have."
Xpress is one of the few teams in the NCTS that builds its own chassis in house. A jig in the back corner of the shop sits next to a huge stock pile of square and round steel tubing, which is bent, cut, and welded into a complete chassis from the ground up.
"It takes us about three weeks to build one from the ground up," Fuge said. "During the season, we like to keep a front clip and a rear clip on the jig in case we have a crash and need to do a quick replacement. The benefit is all in time. When we crashed at Daytona, we had both trucks that were damaged on the jig and replaced both the front and the rear clips on both trucks. We had them both repaired by Friday. If we needed to take them to one of the chassis builders, we may have had them done by the middle of March."
The only part of the process of building the trucks that is not done in house is hanging the bodies.
"We have Clay Brown doing all of our bodies, and his shop is about a half an hour away from here," Fuge said. "He likes being his own boss, because I have tried to hire him several times to come and work for us here. We'd have room for him if he wanted to."
The back of the building, added when a previous owner of the building expanded, now houses a prep booth and paint booth for putting the team's trademark red paint, and now black paint, on their Chevrolet Silverado trucks.
"The building was originally Ernie Irvan's," Fuge said. "This is where he ran his truck team out of. Since then, Robby Gordon had his Cup team here in 2001 and Alec Pinnsonneault ran his Busch team here in 2002."
A look outside the back door finds a storage shed, used to store the teams inventory of wheels and tires as well as the pit equipment when the team is not out on the road.
"It's nice to have the additional storage room out here," Fuge said. "It keeps some of this stuff out of the way when the guys are working on a day to day basis. When we need to load the pit equipment, we push it out the front door of the shed and right up the liftgate of the transporters."
The parking lot finds plenty of room for transporter parking, and offers the team room for outdoor pit stop practice.
"We have a wall outside the guys can jump off and get to work," Fuge said. "The truck is stationary, but it does the job."
Once you walk through the building, you start to understand that it's not the flashy 100,000 square foot buildings that make a successful team; it's the people inside and how they work their magic. And in the recent history of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, the Xpress Motorsports team has proven they know the trick to getting to victory lane and putting the championship trophy on the shelf.