The First Step to Becoming a NASCAR Driver

How To Get Started on the Path to a Career as a NASCAR Star

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400
Chris Trotman / Getty Images

One of the most common questions I receive is: "My child wants to be a NASCAR Sprint Cup race car driver. How does (he, she) get started?" The second most common question I get is "I want to be a NASCAR driver. How do I get started?"

The first thing is that it is never too early to start. All of the drivers you see on TV every week, no matter the type of cars, started out young (some as early as 4 years old) at their local race track or in karts.

The hard part is to prove that you have some ability there. Prove yourself and you'll quickly find yourself moving up through the ranks. Keep it up and you'll find yourself catching the eye of a big name car owner.

The First Step

Go to your local race track (dirt or asphalt doesn't matter) and buy a pit pass if possible. Then go in and strike up a conversation with someone. Drivers, crew members and officials are all great resources with different perspectives on what it takes to get started at that track. As long as they don't have pressing work to do most people will be more than happy to talk to you, but please be courteous.

Ask if they have a minimum age. Many tracks' age limit is lower than the state driving age. If your child is too young to race at that track then someone will probably direct you to a local karting association.

There are definitely no "gimmies" here. Hard work, practice, natural skill, luck and money all play a role in your ability to catch a break.

Becoming a NASCAR driver is not just about your raw racing talent. There are a number of other factors that will determine whether or not you will ever see a green flag in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series.

Physical Characteristics

Racing at it's highest level is a physically demanding sport. 500 miles with a 120-degree track temperature can be brutal.

A regular exercise program will improve your stamina and help you stay sharp over the course of a long hot race.

Also, a slim and toned driver will have an advantage over one that's heavier. In racing every pound counts and that includes the driver as well as the race car.

Get A Good Education

In NASCAR sponsors are the true key to success. You need every possible advantage in order to represent the sponsors well. A good education gives you the ability to speak well in front of the camera.

A racer represents his sponsor everywhere he goes. If you want a quality ride then you need the sponsors' money. Before they will write a check the sponsor needs to believe that you will represent them well.

In the early days of NASCAR, you could drop out of school and be successful. With today's high-tech race cars and the ever increasing business side of the sport, a high school education is the bare minimum. 1992 Winston Cup Champ Alan Kulwicki was the first ever to have a college degree, now it's becoming more and more common as drivers are realizing the importance of a good education.

Go For It!

Getting all the way to Sprint Cup is hard work. If you want to do it there is no "little bit." You've got to give it your all, all the time.

If you make it you can be a legend, but if you don't make it you'll still have a bunch of fun and learn a lot along the way.

Good luck! And don't forget me when you become rich and famous.