Do All NASCAR Drivers Come From Rich Families?

While sitting at a racetrack or watching a NASCAR race on tv and seeing these high performance cars race round at over 200 Miles per hour, changing tires, hiring pit crews, engineers, mechanics and race managers, have you thought about whether the drivers all come from rich families to be able to race NASCAR . Does having money, or a rich family make a difference to peoples chances to race in NASCAR.

NASCAR, like all motorsports, is expensive. Most NASCAR drivers in the four National divisions have come from comparatively rich families. The financial burdens at the beginning of any motorsport mean it is rare that drivers manage to progress further without family financial backing or heavy corporate sponsorship.

This article will look at the cost of starting and competing in NASCAR , and the potential costs involved. We will answer the question of when drivers start and if they start when they are children.

We will look at the racing that is preliminary to NASCAR and how much that type of motor racing costs to be involved in. We have also researched some of the top drivers both today and in the past to see if these NASCAR drivers came from rich families or had money behind them.

If you find at the end of this article that starting a NASCAR career is a little to expensive for you at least you can look the part by getting some gear from the officialOpens in a new tab. NASCAR store. Opens in a new tab.

Do You Have To Be Rich To Be A NASCAR Driver?

You do have to be rich to drive and compete in the higher levels of NASCAR , like the NASCAR Cup Series for example. Although drivers will earn millions at this level of competition the journey to get there is expensive and long.

Drivers do not just decide to start in NASCAR , they have to prove themselves in the lower tiers of motorsports before ever being considered for a top level driving spot.

All motor sport is expensive and the initial costs for children to get involved will run into thousands and thousands of dollars, and realistically to reach the top levels of NASCAR this level of ongoing commitment will be needed.

To get into any Motorsport, including NASCAR you can’t be poor, you will need to have a supportive, and wealthy sponsor or parent. We will look at these initial motorsport options and costs further into the article.

To become an elite sportsperson, in any sport, you will find the majority have started this from a very young age. However with a lot of sports when competing or training as children the cost is usually minimal, with motor sports, and the progression to NASCAR this is certainly not the case and a significant investment will be needed from parents.

Do NASCAR Racing Drivers Have Rich parents?

As highlighted in Wiki howOpens in a new tab. children as young as 5 years old will start their racing career in go karts, this teaches the basics of car handling, handling a car at speed and racing the track not the car. There are also competitions for this around the country and overseas. However with a medium level go kart costing between 1500 – 2000 USD this is not something a lot of families will be able to afford.

Also children take up their activities and sports as a hobby, usually there is much thought in the children’s heads or even the parents that they may go on to have the skills and abilities to turn professional. there for the outlay of so much money on hobby is something that many parents just won’t or can’t consider.

The issue is that go-karting starts as a hobby. Like tennis, soccer, or swimming, there is no guarantee that someone will be good enough to become a professional. So the parents are funding a fun venture for their child, when this is something as small as a new pair of soccer boots this is acceptable for most parents, rich or otherwise, when it is a new 4000 USD go-kart it becomes more problematic. and really only the rich are able to afford this.

If the child does actually start racing in go karts it is possible they may attract some sponsorship if they are good enough. However at this level it is not going to cover the costs of participating, and even as they progress up the racing divisions the costs increase hugely.

Although the sponsorship, bursaries, and scholarships may also increase in money they are very few and far between and most families who are in motorsport either are rich, or have been talent spotted and are being funded from outside.

How Much Does Go Karting Cost?

The path to a career in NASCAR starts with go-karting, in fact most motor racing careers start with go karting. Children usually continue in go karts till they are able to drive legally, then if the talent, enthusiasm and money is still there they are likely to progress on to other types of motor racing

These can include local or reginal NASCAR type events, possibly motorbikes or a low formula single seater or Indy type racing to try other forms of racing. Indy and formula 1 is actually closer to go-kart racing, where saloon or track day racing would be closer to NASCAR racing.

As we have discussed for most motorsports children will start in a go kart. The cost of this can of course vary state to state country to country. However a go kart can be ranged from 1500 for a basic powered model up to 10,000 or more for a good racing cart.

However as children are unlikely to be allowed to drive to their races so there are considerable other costs involved as well. Transport, clothing and more.

There is also the option of autocrossOpens in a new tab. which has both kart and car options.

Motor Racing Expenses for ChildrenUS Dollar cost (range)
Go Kart1500 – 5000 (Upto 10,000)
Tyres 1000 for 8

As you can see from the table above to start in motor sport, never mind at the elite level of NASCAR , it will start from the very beginning to cost serious amounts of money. If we take an average price of 3000 for a go-kart and add the costs, which can vary depending on how many competitions, training and travel, equipment and more.

The costs quickly add up . Include the maintence costs and new tires and equipment and it quickly heads to over 8000 dollars a year even at the low end of competition.

When this is combined to a go karting career of 10 years or more and this will amount to close to 100,000 dollars for what maybe no more than a hobby. This cost is before the move to other forms of racing, or the local and regional NASCAR events. Which, once full size or race designed cars are included ,increases the cost significantly.

While 8000 dollars a year, although expensive, may not seem to be a huge cost for parents, it is just the start of a racing career. The hope is that the driver will be talent spotted during these junior competitions and will win a place or sponsorship from a team or manufacturer. If this doesn’t happen then the costs will rise significantly in the next stage of racing.


What are Racing Costs of Different Levels of NASCAR?

The Four National NASCAR divisions are the NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and ARCA Menards Series. The first three are arguably the more full time racing setups, and the ARCA still has part time or arrive and drive type set ups. We have induced a table below to give a very rough idea of the costs to have a competitive team in each of these divisions.

  • The NASCAR Cup Series

These are are the showcase races and the ones that most people unfamiliar with Nascar will be aware of. It has been conservable estimated that to run a car throughout this series will cost between 20 million and 35 million dollars through out the year. These races are the tip of the spear and with only 40 cars involved competition is fierce.

To do this independently is going to take money. This may come from a rich background, be that from business, family or sponsorship. Although NASCAR used to be one of the more affordable racing options, since the popularity spike in the 1980’s those day are sadly gone.

  • Nascar Xfinity Series:

If the NASCAR Cup Series is the major League then the Xfinity series is the minor league. These races may be help as warm up races or support races on NASCAR Cup Series race days. Although less prestigious the costs are still huge.

The sponsorship with these teams is less than the NASCAR Cup series teams so some will even offer racing spots to a pay driver. for Example MBN motorsports were looking for a driver to pay them to race last year. the cost of that ride, 650,000 USD without pit crews or add on expenses. Although that is cheap in NASCAR terms, it certainly isn’t small change to most of us!

  • Nascar Camping World Truck Series:

The Camping World Truck Series is considered to be the third tier behind infinity, a team is still likely to be spending between 2 and 3 million USD to compete, competitively compete, in the Truck series of NAS car. Sponsors are not as lucrative at this level, though are still plenty of them around. There are also, however, plenty of teams that run at a loss in the Truck Series, and drivers, even at the top levels, sometimes have to go part timeOpens in a new tab. due to lack of funds.

  • Arca Menards Series:

The Arca Menards Series is considered a semi professional league of stock car racing, and acts as a feeder to the other 3 NASCAR Series races. Although this is Semi Professional and even considered to be an arrive and drive raceOpens in a new tab. series the costs still go up quickly.

A car, while not in the 130-300k range that NASCAR Cup cars cost will still be entry level price of 30,000 dollars and add to this race fees of 10k for back-marker positions, a trailer, tools and mechanic fees, accommodation, tired and fuel. This could add up to 7 to 10 thousand dollars per race on average. and of course this is just with one car. To run a full season is likely to be 200,000 dollars as a minimum, and much more if the aim is to be competitive.

The costs of entering the upper levels of NASCAR as you can see can range from about 200,000 dollars a year all the way up to 35 million dollars a year. This is on top of the 10 or so years of go-karting or other motor racing experiences, and doesn’t even touch on NASCAR training or experiences!

as the quote below explains, Motorsport for the vast, vast majority of people is most certainly a pay to play experience and only the very top of the sport will be making profits from their involvement.

In that era we had a couple of appropriate sayings. The first was “Do you know how to become a millionaire racing? Start out as a multi-millionaire”. And the second was don’t ever race with your own money.

Ray Wilson

The Bottom-Line Costs for a Competitive Team in NASCAR Divisions.

NASCAR DivisionAnnual Low CostAnnual Medium CostAnnual High Cost
NASCAR Cup Series6,000,000 Dollars15,000, 000 Dollars25,000,000 Dollars
Xfinity Series2,000, 000 Dollars5,000, 000 Dollars8,000, 000 Dollars
Truck Series750,000 Dollars2,000, 000 Dollars3,000, 000 Dollars
ARCA Series350-500, 000 Dollars1,000,000 Dollars1,500, 000 Dollars

it is Likely that drivers will have continue to race in these divisions for a a few years. As you c see form the potential costs in the table above this will quickly become very costly.

If parents have their children racing in ARCA then after three years at the low end of the price estimate is is over 1.5 million dollars. Only the richest of parents will be able to help their children with this without significant sponsorship.

What Are The Backgrounds of Nascar Drivers?

We have researched some of the backgrounds of Past and Present NASCAR drivers for you here. Although there are less billionaires than the formula one ranks, there are still a mix of team owners, former drivers and those with connections to the sport. Although it is not a closed shop it is clearly easier to get in if your family are connected in some way.

NASCAR Driver Family Connections to NASCAR, or Contribution to Driving Career.
Richard PettyFather, Lee Petty. was a NASCAR driver and owned one of the most successful racing teams in NASCAR – Petty enterprises.
Dale EarnhardtFather, Ralph earnHardt was a stock car driver as well.
Brian ScottFather, JB, was the owner of the Xpress Motorsports NASCAR team
Paul MenardBillionaire Father John Menard Jr owns Menards Home Improvements Stores.
Carl EdwardsHe took work as substitute teacher to help fund his racing. Started racing Karts when 9 years old
Kyle BuschHas a brother, Kurt Busch, who was 2004 NASCAR Nextel Champion. Family own a garage.
Martin Truex JrFather, Martin Truex, Sr, is a former NASCAR driver and owner of commercial fishing company Sea watch International.
Chase ElliotFarther, Bill Elliot is a former NASCAR Driver.


Although the requirement for rich parents is not quite as extreme as other forms of racing, like formula 1 for example, where millions of dollars are needed to reach the top tier of the sport. NASCAR like all motorsports is still a very cash hungry sport.

Not all drivers come from incredibly rich families, but many do come from families with a background of racing and many of them family ties or at least close links to NASCAR. One thing is certain to start in NASCAR and motor sport is certainly expensive. Finding someone to foot the bill often playing the deciding roll on whether someone continues to drive or leaves the sport.

There is no doubt having rich parents, or a sponsor will deep pockets, make that discussion much easier! However, there is always the tale of a poor driver , who gets talent spotted. Although its rare, it does happen from time to time. Maybe it could be you 😉


Al lifelong Motor Racing Fan, with a particular love of NASCAR and IndyCar racing. Been in and out of cars of varying speeds since i was a child and sharing what i have learnt here.

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