Retired Mobil executive Tom DeLoach’s affinity for racing didn’t end when the Statesboro, Ga., native left the company in 2000. He simply channeled his passion for the sport in a different direction.
A year after retiring, DeLoach realized the over-the-wall crews were attaining a new level of professionalism and a training facility was needed for those seeking that type of motorsports career. The Mooresville resident partnered with NASCAR championship crew chief Jeff Hammond, who had recently accepted a TV analyst job with FOX Sports, and together they implemented the training facility the personable DeLoach envisioned.
They purchased the pit crew school known as 5 Off 5 On, created the Performance Instruction and Training facility, and constructed a state-of-the-art complex in Mooresville. Earlier this month, school officials were notified they were now licensed by the North Carolina Board of Community Colleges, an objective that took at least five years to achieve.
“I had to go over there and rub my hand over the license itself and say, ‘Whoa! This is wonderful,’” said an excited DeLoach, whose NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team Red Horse Racing is based across the street from PIT. “It has been such a torturous process of trying to get to that point, because frankly, we are the one and only pit school training facility licensed by the state of North Carolina. When you are a pioneer, it takes longer to figure out where the trail is. And when it’s that painful to get, the victory is that much sweeter.”
Figuring out the correct business path is something DeLoach has done throughout his professional career.
After receiving a bachelor’s degree with honors in chemical engineering from Georgia Tech in 1969, DeLoach joined Mobil Oil at its Beaumont, Texas, refinery. He progressed through the company and became manager of crude oil supply for U.S. marketing and refining in 1980.
In 1981, he was liaison with Mobil’s diversified businesses. Three years later he became vice president of U.S. supply and in 1986 he was appointed vice president and general manager of U.S. marketing.
DeLoach was elected vice president of corporate planning and economics for Mobil in 1990. The following year he was elected to the Mobil Oil board of directors and named vice president of worldwide supply and trading. In 1993, DeLoach was named executive vice president in charge of international marketing and refining. In 1994, he was appointed chief financial officer for Mobil Corp. In 1998, DeLoach became president of Global Midstream.
From 1993 until his retirement in 2000, he also was the worldwide coordinator of Mobil's motorsports programs.
Four years after DeLoach retired from Mobil, PIT opened its 33,000-square-foot facility on slightly more than five acres in Mooresville. The facility includes a 24,000-square-foot building, a 9,000-square-foot garage and a quarter-mile track.
In addition to pit crew training for individuals and teams, PIT provides corporate team building initiatives and lean performance programs. Bob Plott is the facility’s general manager and Toni Thomas handles the financials.
“We kinda grew into the business and we feel we have a state-of-the-art facility that’s second-to-none,” DeLoach said. “It has the ability to give as (much of) a real life training experience to the young men and women as anything out there. We have a quarter-mile track around the building, we have pit stalls, we can simulate pit road traffic, we can have you blocked in and we can have you slide out of the (pit) box. If you practice as close to reality as you possibly can, then it’s going to work.”
Pit Crew U, an eight-week course that involves classroom and hands-on training, recently graduated its 98th class. In addition to learning pit stop choreography and each of the six positions on an over-the-wall crew, the students studied race-day preparation, equipment maintenance and selection, and pit road rules. Those who excel in that course receive an invitation into PIT’s 5 Off 5 On Race Team Performance program. In that program the person receives athletic training, skills coaching and the opportunity to serve on an over-the-wall crew in stock car racing.
“I want to see the fight in the dog,” DeLoach said in explaining what he looks for in people. “Not necessarily the most spectacular physical specimen, but I want to see somebody that has the heart. That heart will persevere when it’s cold and rainy and uncomfortable and rain delays. The other attributes may or may not, so that’s what we try to coach them into.”
New modified series kicks off
The Southern Modified Race Tour’s new KOMA Unwind Modified Madness Series opens its season March 22 at Hickory Motor Speedway. The race is the first of two at the historic track with the other scheduled for July 5. Series Director Randy Myers said the modifieds also will compete at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem.
The KOMA Unwind 125 will be the feature event on March 22. Also racing that day will be the Southeast Super Truck Series and the East Coast Flathead Ford Racing Association.
Hickory Motor Speedway 4-Cylinder champion Chase Pollard began defense of his title with a victory in the season opener. The grandson of retired NASCAR driver Harry Gant and the son of former NASCAR Nationwide driver Larry Pollard started from the pole and defeated Statesville’s Matthew Elledge for the victory.