NASCAR was founded in December 1947 by Bill France Sr, and the first race was held in February 1948. NASCAR has a global reach, competing in Mexico, Canada, and Europe. It was designed to be entered by, almost, anyone with a half decent stock car. this made it more accessible. Over time these part time drivers turned professional, but how do people get to become NASCAR drivers now?
Most NASCAR drivers started racing go-karts until upgrading to actual cars, then compete in races. After watching professionals’ race, studying the mechanics, and volunteering, you will be ready to try a NASCAR driving course. Next, get a NASCAR internship, join a racing school, and try for your license and sponsorship.
Do you dream of becoming a NASCAR driver? If so, it is definitely in your best interest to start driving as early as possible; however, it is never too late to start! If you love racing there are more options than NASCAR out there.
How To Become A NASCAR Driver?
Becoming a NASCAR driver takes a lot of hard work, focus, training, and money. With a positive mindset and motivation, anything is possible, and you could find yourself driving professionally on the NASCAR circuit, if no at the very top then potential in the K and N or Arca series!
The 10 tips to Become a NASCAR Driver
Before becoming a professional, you need to learn the basics. There are 6 steps to take when working towards becoming a NASCAR driver.
1. Start racing go-karts.
To become a NASCAR driver, you first need to start racing on go-karts, as you can do this from a young age. Some professional NASCAR drivers start driving go-karts from just 5 years old. It is best to start this as early as possible, as the chances of a successful career will be higher.
Karting will teach you the basic skills needed to become a NASCAR driver. As you gain more confidence, you will learn the art of racing, from control to adapting your speed according to the racetrack.
You can then enter karting races locally, nationally, or even internationally. CIKFIA or The World Carting Association are good competitions to start looking at. If you are too young to enter these competitions, youth races are a great place to start.
2. Advance to actual cars.
By now, you should have taken part in a few karting races and hopefully came in near the top! Once you have learned everything, you can upgrade to racing cars from karting.
After some practice, you can enter amateur racing competitions Like Autocross racing to gain more experience. Some riders, like Jimmie Johnson, then build their career racing off-road vehicles and motorbikes.
We have details of autocross, which while still costing money, you can do in your own car and its only costs around 25 dollars t enter. It also puts you in touch with other like minded people!
3. Compete in local competitions.
To compete in any professional circuit, you need to start competing locally. Compete in as many local competitions as you can so that you can build a reputation for yourself, improve your skills and shape your career.
Hopefully, you will gain as many wins under your best as possible!
4. Watch professional races.
A great way to gain more exposure and pick up on tips and tricks is by watching the professional race drivers compete. Whether you watch their races on your TV or in person at the racetrack, it is a must-do!
Why not purchase a pit pass where you will get the opportunity to chat with the drivers, officials, and crew members?
5. Study the mechanics.
Learn as much about the mechanics of a race car as possible, from the basics of lug wrenches to suspension. You can do this by conducting research online, visiting the local car mechanic, reading a textbook, or taking a course at a community college.
Although professional drivers have a team of maintenance staff, they need to know everything about their car! This way, the driver can spot problems early on and pit the car before anything serious happens.
6. Offer your services to a driver’s crew.
Volunteering will allow you to gain extra knowledge and hands-on experience when it comes to the mechanics of the car. It is also a great way to meet people in the industry. Generally, the program will require you to have some basic skills, but training will be provided if not.
7. Complete a NASCAR driving course.
To end off the basics of becoming a NASCAR driver, you should take part in a driving course. If this is done on a major speedway, you will have the option of doing a ride-along lap or following a pace car.
If feeling confident, you can do the drivers-seat challenge where someone experienced gives you hand signals from the passenger seat.
Other driving schools offer lessons in standard track procedures and allow you to do up to 40 laps around the track in a race car.
8. Try Sim Racing
Sim racing has been around for a wjile, but hsa become a much more serious, and accepted way of training to race. With equipment and programs being better to emulate racing conditions much more accurately now. Without the fear, consequences or cost of crashing! you can read more about this here.
9. Use the Technology
We live at a time where you don’t have to leave the sofa to visit and experience things. this includes racing. There are plenty of videos on your tube of drivers viewpoints in both NASCAR and Formula 1 (and others like Rally) These are great to watch on YouTube, and even better watching in VR.
Its not the same, but you get an idea of reaction times, track layouts, cornering marks and more by “racing” with the best in the world. You can amzn_assoc_tracking_id = "motorracingsport-20"; amzn_assoc_ad_mode = "manual"; amzn_assoc_ad_type = "smart"; amzn_assoc_marketplace = "amazon"; amzn_assoc_region = "US"; amzn_assoc_design = "enhanced_links"; amzn_assoc_asins = "B099VMT8VZ"; amzn_assoc_placement = "adunit"; amzn_assoc_linkid = "d71330c7f9d28ba1c381647d8f7466f1";
At SCCA ( Sports Car Club of America) you will meet like minded people, and those further down the road than you. You can learn tips, tricks and develop networks and contacts to help you in racing. This may be how to drive, or discounts on racing equipment. It is also full of great people who share your common interest!
Becoming A Professional NASCAR Driver
The second part of becoming a professional NASCAR driver is gaining more experience through internships, competitions, and lots of practice. After then, you can get a license, and you should be good to go!
- Acquire a NASCAR internship.
One of the best ways to gain experience is by completing an internship. Some racing companies (NASCAR included) offer internships to college students – so you can even study and intern simultaneously!
2. Join a racing school.
The next step in kickstarting your career as a NASCAR driver is to attend a racing school. This will expose you to various aspects of racing, from driving to the business side.
3. Get a license to compete.
Apply to get a competition license can be a long and tiring process, but it is required before you can get behind the wheel. Depending on your level of experience, different restrictions may occur, but if you are attending a racing school, they will assist you.
Before obtaining a license, you must have a physical examination. After this, you can get a novice or provisional competition license, upgrading to a full competition license.
4. Find money and sponsorship.
Racing can cost tens of thousands of dollars once you have added up the cost of the tools, equipment, racing school, licenses, and competitions.
Find a sponsor through networking! To network, you need to win the races you compete in. Form a PR team to spread awareness on social media and through word of mouth.
Final Advice For Becoming A NASCAR Driver
- One important thing to note is that you should not buy a race car. Race cars are extremely expensive, and you will need to get a trailer, truck, and tools. After competing for a few seasons, look at investing in a car.
- Fitness is key! You must get in shape and stay in shape. It may not seem like it, but you need to be extremely fit to become a successful driver. Being fit will better equip the driver to withstand the G-force and heat – and the lighter the driver, the faster the car can go.
- There are only 40 drivers in the NASCAR cup series, so cover your bases here and have a back up plan. Racing is a full time job for very few people in the world, lots more do it part time, why not try that first.
We also have articles on how long long, the average age and why NASCAR drivers are so young here on the site
- Why are NASCAR Drivers so young
- Average age of a NASCAR Driver
- How long does it take to become a NASCAR Driver
Other Amateur Racing Options.
Go-Karts are where most professional racing drivers made their start, but not all of us had (or have) the opportunity or money to try this out. However there are other options to get a taste of racing that are often overlooked.
If you have your own car you can try Autocross which is not racing against other cars and drivers, at least at the same time, it is racing against the clock. It is often held on parking lots or airfields so there is little risk of damage to your car, and requires much less equipment that other forms of racing. Just a helmet and a working car in good condition.
You can read more about how to get involved in Autocross in the article below.
It may seem like a long process to become a NASCAR driver, but if it is your life-long dream or an aspiration, then it is going to be worth it. Just remember to have a back up as there are only 40 cars in the Cup Series, and although we are not saying you wont make it, it is best to plan for all eventualities!
Racing doesn’t have to be done at the highest levels, there are multiple ways to try from go-karting to autocross to dirt racing, to sim racing all these require the same skill and perseverance, but dont cost as much in both time or money.
Whichever you decide to go for we wish you all the best in jumpstarting your career in racing!