It takes a lot to become a NASCAR driver, but for those who do it is definitely worth it!
This is definitely one job that not everyone can do. To race at seriously high speeds, knowing that every race could be the last, takes a lot of guts. It also require great skills, focus, and nerves of steel to take split-second decisions while driving at over 200 miles/hr.
Of course, the higher the risks, the greater the reward. And NASCAR is certainly no exception to this rule. Top NASCAR drivers can make millions of dollars a year.
But not every driver will come in the top 10 or even the top 100. So for every millionaire NASCAR driver, there are many who earn five or six figures.
So how much does a NASCAR driver really make?
Job Description of a NASCAR driver
The job of a NASCAR driver is to participate in car races and of course try to win them. Naturally then, a NASCAR driver must be extremely fit physically. He or she must also have very fast reflexes. After all, when you’re driving at an extremely high speed, you don’t have much time to think.
However, car racing is not the only thing that NASCAR drivers do. They are also required to make public appearances for promotional purposes. The responsibility of promoting NASCAR, their team and their sponsors lies on their shoulders.
They should be able to chat with fans, answer their questions, and of course sign autographs. Apart from being skilled at racing, Successful NASCAR drivers should have a pleasing and charming personality.
Becoming a NASCAR driver requires a lot of hard work. Most drivers begin very early, starting with go-karts before moving to full-size race cars.
You need to attend a racing school, like Sports Car Club of America which offers suitable course to people interested in making a career in car racing. And of course you would need to have a competition license. Without it, you can’t race.
Budding race drivers must participate in the maximum possible number of races. Greater exposure helps you not only hone your racing skills but also earn more recognition.
Aspiring drivers must possess a complete understanding of all aspects of a car. They must thoroughly know how each system of a car works. To acquire this knowledge, you might need to attend a good automotive training school. The NASCAR Technical Institute is in a league of its own and perhaps the best place to get the technical knowledge about cars. Every racing team boasts about their advanced technology and latest equipment, but they still depend on drivers’ feedback to learn about the performance of the car.
Salaries of NASCAR drivers
NASCAR drivers can be divided into 2 categories based on their earnings:
(1) top-performing drivers who earn millions annually and
(2) average drivers who earn five or six figures
Developmental NASCAR drivers have a base salary of anywhere between $100,000 and $300,000. In addition to the base salary, they can make about $200,000 in prize money. If you deduct taxes and cost of disability insurance ($25K), you come to about $200,000.
Here’s a list of 12 top earners from lowest to highest.
|12.||Matt Kenseth||$9.0 million|
|11||Martin True||$9.9 million|
|10||Kyle Larson||$10.1 million|
|9||Joey Logano||$10.2 million|
|8||Danica Patrick||$10.3 million|
|7||Kasey Kahne||$11.2 million|
|6.||Brad Keselowski||$11.2 million|
|5||Kevin Harvick||$13.6 million|
|4||Denny Hamlin||$14.6 million|
|3||Kyle Busch||$14.7 million|
|2||Jimmie Johnson||$19.2 million|
|1||Dale Earnhardt||$22 million|
NASCAR drivers experience
Aspiring drivers start early. They develop and improve their skills by racing midget cars, go-karts, stock cars, and open-wheel cars. They also race rally courses and dirt tracks before racing on modern raceways.
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the question about how many years it takes to become a NASCAR driver. Some may gain experience and recognition earlier than others.
It all depends on how soon you develop yourself as an expert racer and start gaining recognition by finishing in top positions in races. Eventually, you would need to attract someone who’s willing to sponsor you.
Job Growth Outlook for NASCAR drivers
NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series is owned and operated by the International Speedway Corporation. For the past few years, the attendance at racetracks has stagnated. Sponsorship money is also gradually declining. With the latest generations hooked on digital products, NASCAR car racing is facing stiff competition from new entertainment avenues.
International Speedway Corporation is taking steps to boost attendance and, by extension, its revenues. However, the growth prospects are not very optimistic. Nevertheless, there’s always a demand for talented drivers as the career span of a race driver is shorter than most.