Eyes in the sky

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They've got some of the best seats in the house every week, but spotters can hardly relax and enjoy NASCAR's Nextel Cup races.

From high atop the grandstands or press box, spotters are a vital member of a race crew as they pass on important messages to help drivers navigate the racetrack.

The spotters communicate whether it's safe to pass and what side of the track to pass on. They also need to quickly notify their drivers about any wrecks or debris on the track.

Superspeedways, such as Taladega and Daytona, are so big that teams use more than one spotter to make sure the whole racetrack is being monitored.

After good eyesight and clear communication skills, diplomacy might be the next most important attribute of a spotter. Sometimes the spotter for a driver at or near the lead might approach a counterpart for a driver at the back of the grid and ask him to move aside so the faster car can pass.

Spotters can also forge partnerships with each other to bring two or more cars together to draft each other to the front.