Becoming a NASCAR Racing Driver
One of the most popular American sports is NASCAR racing, boasting the maximum television viewership after only the NFL. NASCAR stands for “National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing” – with the Sprint Cup being the ultimate goal. Although many may have dreamed of becoming a champion race car driver as a kid, only a select few go on to consider it as a serious profession. Whether you’re drawn in by the glory, fame and riches or by the pure passion of racing, let’s take a look at how to become a NASCAR driver.
If you’re over the age of 13 with absolutely no experience, it’s probably too late to start; however, you can easily train your son or daughter or even find yourself a protégé. NASCAR racing drivers need to be physically fit, dedicated and have a LOT of money, either in their own pockets or via a very well-funded team owner. The expenses start from the beginning with go-karts, training and kits. Once you hit the big time you’ll need even deeper pockets for pit crew salaries, travel costs, vehicle care, and of course the NASCAR race car itself which is generally a stock car built from the ground up to be a pure racing powerhouse; to name but a few. In this sport, money is directly tied to success, so if you happen to have plenty of money and are young enough or have a young protégé, then let the training begin!
Some racing drivers started as young as the age of four, behind the wheel of a go-kart of course. Go-karts are the best place to start and with consistent coaching one can soon become the king of the go-kart track. You might think go-karts are a bit of an odd place to start but they actually teach you to understand the basics of racing and allow you to start developing skills such as reaction time, the ability to predict other drivers moves, how to out-manoeuvre them, and the ability to remain calm and focused in such an intense environment where adrenaline runs high. A little interesting fact: about 90% of NASCAR racing drivers started with go-karts!
Right from the beginning, it is also a good idea to attend races either on a pro-level or at local tracks, read books, learn about your favourite NASCAR race drivers and how they reached the top, watch programs on the mechanics of how the vehicles operate and on anything that might help you expand your knowledge of racing and cars in general. Many people don’t realize that being a racing driver means you also need to have a sound knowledge of the mechanics in order to offer feedback to the technicians who can then better optimize the car. These skills can also be honed by working on cars yourself or even enrolling in an automotive training school.
Once you are old enough, you’ll want to head into actual racing cars. Most racetracks offer a variety of race car driving lessons of different difficulties and getting into a real race car on a real track starts to give you a sense of what it will be like to enter the world of professional racing. Being involved at your local tracks will not only allow you to hone your skills but will also put you in connection with people in the industry who can impart some vital wisdom or may even get you the leg up you need to enter the big league. If you’re ready, you can even buy your very own race car and start taking advantage of open track time at your local racetrack where racing regularly could get you noticed by potential sponsors. Sponsors are vitally important and you’ll want to be well educated in order to have the charisma and capability of representing sponsors well in the public eye as no sponsors will take on a racing driver who makes them look bad.
The best way to head into the big league of NASCAR racing is to start making a name for yourself in smaller, local races. As you improve and make connections you will move up in the racing world, start competing in higher level races, and eventually enter the professional circuit. In order to gain access to even the most basic NASCAR racing circuits however, you’ll need to apply for a NASCAR driver’s license. You can apply through the NASCAR headquarters or through a local NASCAR-licensed track. Each application requires you to submit a resumé with your personal information, references, and an extensive list of your racing experience – hence all the vital training above. Once you have a licence you will need to field a team and car, which is where the expenses really start to hit. But if you are good enough and have deep pockets then you’ll soon be seeing your name in lights…and perhaps on a t-shirt, keyring and billboard!
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