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Sorry to interrupt this great convo with a response to the original post :-p -
Not sure of the exact number of tearaways but I would imagine at least 8-10 depending on how many pit stops they anticipate.
As far as when they switched and why, I don't remember exactly but probably sometime in the late 90's and it was probably just a case of a "better idea" that technology allowed rather than safety; it's a faster and more efficient method that someone came up with and soon everyone followed.
And ooh ooh ooh I know the answer to the last one! A rag and Windex or other window cleaner for an over the wall guy to do. I did it a couple times in ARCA in the early 90's for Jerry Churchill and I remember one time there was a chip in the windshield right in his line of sight that he pointed to after I got done and I went over it again but of course it didn't come out so he just had to deal with it :-)
I believe the actual number of tear offs is five, Cliff. Any more than five and the wind drag begins to pull the stack of tabs from each other.
Safety concerns- The tear aways were developed to minimize the number of crew members over the wall during pit stops. One less crew member per team reduces the opportunity of accidental contact by 43 lives. Pulling a tear off from the windshield takes less than a second, while spraying window cleaner, wiping a rag through bug guts, then repeating the process in 13 seconds has become unfeasible. Smears are just as dangerous if not more so at 200mph. One quick tug and the driver's view has been restored.
Sweet Old Bob nailed it on the developer.