NASCAR is one of America’s favorite pastimes. To some, the concept of watching a bunch of cars go in circles isn’t exactly exciting. However, there is way more to this sport than just left turns. Drivers have a lot of tricks and secrets that not everyone is aware of. Some of the drivers have personal secrets that their fans and the media love to learn about, just like any other celebrity.
Other insider information reveals things that the drivers of NASCAR have to put up with if they want to race with the best of the best. So, here are ten secrets regarding NASCAR drivers that you never thought you would know.
10 Mark Martin Loves Healthy Foods
Mark Martin, driver of the Number 5 godaddy.com car back in 2011, used to consume tons of fast food at the beginning of his career. Working long hours a day rarely afforded him the time needed to prepare a proper meal. Once he became successful and had help working in his shop, Martin had the time to clean up his diet. He made the switch to healthy, clean, organic foods. By Mark’s own admission, he eats quite a bit and is thrilled that now the food he's consuming is better for him. He thoroughly enjoys vegetables, low sugar protein bars, orange roughy fish, and Peanut Wonder (an all natural, healthier peanut spread).
9 Drivers Were Briefly Not Allowed To Announce Their Winnings
For a short time back in 2016, NASCAR updated their rules stating that they would not be posting the prize money, or “purse” as its called, up for the public to see. In addition, the drivers were not allowed to disclose it either. No one was quite sure why this was done. The drivers commented that it was fun for everyone to see what the purse was. The fans loved knowing the stakes of the race, as knowing how much money was on the line added to the excitement of the final laps. The drivers themselves enjoyed seeing it published for their own satisfaction as well as to see how well their friends and rivals did. The rule has since been retracted, but nevertheless, it was an unusual time.
8 Drivers Work More Than You Do!
The drivers of NASCAR make tons of money from their sponsorships and participating in races. All that money comes at a price though: work, work, and more work. In the peak of race season, drivers work seven days a week and spend more time behind the wheel than an average person spends behind their desk at a normal nine-to-five. They have to practice constantly to keep their reflexes and instincts sharp, as well as test out new modifications to their vehicles to ensure it’ll help them be the first across the finish line. Also, sponsors demand a lot of endorsements in exchange for the money, stickers, and patches drivers get to sport on their cars and jumpsuits. Plus there is always travel time from one race to another.
7 Drivers and Astronauts Have More in Common Than You Think
A fun fact that made us all giggle as children were that astronauts use the restroom in their suits. While we all imagined them floating through space making a mess in their pants, there's a special system in place so the waste is removed and the astronaut isn't sitting in it like a baby in need of a diaper change. It might surprise you to learn that NASCAR drivers do the same thing; however, they are not as lucky to have a fancy suit that gets rid of everything. Races tend to be three hours long and every moment the driver spends in the pit bay is precious seconds that they're falling behind; thus a bathroom break is out of the question. So, if a driver wants to win, they’ll go right in their racing suit.
6 You Don’t Need A License to Hit the Track
The vehicles that race around NASCAR tracks do so at an excess of 200-miles an hour. It requires lightning-fast reflexes, near-omniscient awareness of one’s surroundings, steady nerves, and a healthy helping of luck to make it through the laps, let alone win. It's a dangerous job with crashes happening all the time. Yet, if you find yourself with a dream of being a NASCAR driver and you haven’t gotten around to getting your state driver’s license, don’t worry: You can still chase your dream! NASCAR does not require participants to have a normal driver’s license. They have their own form of certification to be a driver but having a standard license is not listed in their requirements.
5 Drivers Have to Watch What They Say Around the Media
NASCAR is a huge machine in the entertainment industry that, as all businesses are, is out to make as much money as possible. Endorsements, advertisements, commercials, and public anticipation are what pays NASCAR’s bills and earns them a tidy profit. Thus, they can get protective of how they are viewed by the public as this will directly affect how many people buy tickets to the races, how many will tune in to watch, and so forth. So, when the stars of the show, the drivers, do or say something that's even slightly unfavorable, the big wigs immediately get worried about the bottom line.
Drivers have to be careful that nothing they say during interviews can be viewed as negative towards NASCAR or that could damage them by association. If they do slip up, NASCAR will hit them with fines that come out of their paychecks and winnings.
4 Kyle Larson Uses Simulations To Keep Up His Speed
Driver Kyle Larson, the operator of the Number 42 Credit One Bank car, was known throughout 2018 for having consistent speed on the track. The secret to his success? A carefully programmed and constantly updated simulation. This isn't just a racing video game; it's an expensive, and complex program that is specifically created to simulate track conditions, and the way a race car with certain modifications will handle on that track. A lot of work and painstaking detail goes into making the simulation as true to life as possible. Given how far our technology has come, Larson is able to use it to practice his racing with astonishingly applicable accuracy.
3 The Small-Time Drivers Matter!
Everyone wants to interview the big shot drivers that place high in all their races, have the best equipment, have the big sponsors, and are popular with their fans. The fans want to do meet and greet with the drivers but they are often busy with their jobs. Sponsorships can be demanding; they want constant filming for commercials and advertisements. As is the norm, everyone wants to rub elbows with the “somebodies.” But what about the “nobodies”? What about all those other drivers that fill out the roster? Well, there is one perk to being a small-time driver: you have way more free time to dedicate to race fans and anyone who wants to meet, greet, and chat when the bigger drivers are too busy.
2 Dale Earnheardt Jr. Used to Smoke
Dale Earnheardt Jr. of NASCAR fame talked briefly in a recent interview (May 2019) about his struggles with a very common vice: smoking. While he was racing, Dale said that he was able to keep the urges in check while out on the track but no sooner would he pull across the finish line, was he looking to slip away and smoke. Earnheardt Jr. admitted he was nervous about public backlash if he was seen smoking publicly and only did it in front of family and close friends. He was finally able to quit with a bit of struggle, but nevertheless, he kicked the habit. A few months ago, he accepted a deal with a company called Nicorette, a minty gum that is meant to help smokers quit.
1 Drivers Actually Lose Weight While They Race!
At first glance, this might seem illogical. After all, the drivers are sitting down for the duration of the race; they don’t even get out to stretch during pit stops. However, when you stop and really think about it, it makes perfect sense. First of all, the intense situation and high speeds cause the drivers’ heart rates to skyrocket. The basic tenant of cardio exercise (the best fat burning method), is to get your heart rate up. Second, it gets extremely hot in race cars with temperatures getting above 100 degrees. Sweating is another sign your body's working overtime; all of your systems are trying to cool you and keep you going. Take these things combined, and drivers are capable of losing three to five pounds during a three-hour race while an average person working to lose weight loses that amount over the course of a week.