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Finely tuned athletes replace traditional grease monkeys on NASCAR's pit road

The beer bellies are gone from pit road. Crew members these days are well-conditioned athletes who have backgrounds in college football, minor league baseball and even pro wrasslin', writes Ryan McGee.

Updated: May 15, 2008, 4:57 PM ET
By Ryan McGee | ESPN The Magazine

Sitting on the pit wall at Darlington Raceway, Leonard Wood shakes his head in disbelief.

Mere minutes before the start of the Dodge Challenger 500, the legendary mechanic can't help but chuckle as he looks at all the horsepower around him. Man, he thinks to himself, what his Wood Brothers Racing team could have done with this kind of muscle back in the day.

But the 73-year-old's envy isn't directed at the race cars.

"Look at how athletic ...

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