One of the unseen aspects in NASCAR is drivers traveling between races. Most NASCAR tracks are scattered across America. One week, drivers may need to attend a race on the East Coast before taking off for the West Coast the next. This leaves many fans wondering how drivers get to and from each race.
NASCAR drivers travel between races by flying to racing venues, even those within a few hours from their homes. This is because drivers, who may be on the road for consecutive weeks, want to maximize work-life balance. They also spend about 3 days per week living in motorhomes at the track.
NASCAR drivers spend a lot of their time traveling and racing. You may be curious as to where they stay, whether they travel with their team, and when they get to go home. Below, we go into more detail about the life of NASCAR drivers traveling between races.
NASCAR drivers get to races by flying. Flying rather than driving to each race is faster and allows drivers to have more time at home with their families. The additional time is also used by drivers to mentally and physically prepare for their next race.
A typical week for a NASCAR driver may begin the minute their race ends as they collaborate with their team over how the previous event went. Professional athletes, like NASCAR drivers, often work 50 to 60-hour weeks, especially long weeks when traveling in-season.
They may get the following day off, but it is possible that they are back on the road by Wednesday if not earlier, in preparation for the weekend race. Drivers need to spend time physically and mentally preparing for the demands the weekend’s race will bring.
Not to mention the need to practice, relay to the team feedback regarding the car, engage in more practice, qualifying, and finding time to stay hydrated and mentally sound. On top of that, drivers have sponsorship appearances, media appearances, and fan events to attend.
A NASCAR driver may drive a car 180 miles per hour for a living, but driving between events is never an option. EvenNASCAR drivers that live near Charlotte, North Carolina, will fly to fairly nearby races at Bristol.
Bristol, Tennessee, is a three-hour drive from Charlotte, but drivers can make the trip to even a nearby track like Bristol in a fraction of the time by flying. Brad Keslowski has cited work-life balance as the deciding factor as to why drivers fly instead of drive.
Most drivers have families, so flying lets them spend more time at home rather than driving all over the country to attend races. If they had to drive, they would rarely be home during the nine-month season unless NASCAR took the rare week off.
NASCAR drivers do not stay in hotels between races. Unlike most sports, NASCAR drivers sleep in motorhomes parked at the speedway rather than in nearby hotels. These motorhomes are luxurious inside and NASCAR drivers often have their own drivers to transport the motorhome from track to track.
In most sports, athletes tend to stay at hotels near the event location. This occurs in the NFL, NHFL, NBA, and MLB. If you ever went on a trip to watch a professional sports event live, you would likely be in for a treat if you stay at team hotels. You could be lucky enough to see the team board a bus or leave to go to the stadium or field location. However, this is not the case with NASCAR.
Where Do NASCAR Drivers Stay?
NASCAR drivers stay in customized, luxury motorhomes that are parked right by the race venue. Drivers often spend between $1.2 and $2 million on these motorhomes, creating a sleek and technologically advanced living space. The motorhomes are moved between each race by a hired driver.
Darrell Waltrip once said that drivers spend their time on the road at motorhomes parked right at the speedway. He described the motorhomes as, “our home away from home,” during an interview. Drivers invest large amounts of money into these motorhomes, filling the interior with leather furniture, state-of-the-art décor, floors with marble tiling, luxury showers and more.
How Much Time Do NASCAR Drivers Spend On The Road?
NASCAR drivers spend at least 108 days on the road per year, which is more than three-and-a-half months out of the year. Drivers usually leave home to be at the track by the middle of the week, meaning they spend three or more days per week inside their motorhome.
NASCAR drivers will go home between races if it is feasible to do so. For example, many NASCAR teams are headquartered east of the Mississippi River, with several based in North Carolina. If the races are near this area, they may have time to fly home in between races.
Prominent examples of teams located near North Carolina include Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, and Team Penske. When drivers of those teams race at tracks like Charlotte, Bristol, or Martinsville, you will see that they travel home between races because the events are nearby.
However, when races are lined up in further locations like the Auto Club Speedway, the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and the Phoenix raceway, it would not be feasible for those drivers to fly home between the events. Therefore, they would not fly all the way back to the east coast at that time.
Drivers also have potential sponsorship obligations and fan events that could keep them from traveling home. Suppose a driver drove for a prominent Fortune 500company’s team, and that company is holding an annual event for the mid and upper management. The driver may appear and speak to that company’s employees attending the event, even during the NASCAR season.
Given everything asked of them, a NASCAR driver’s obligation goes far beyond performing well on the track. When they need to meet with sponsors and make appearances during the week, there is no time to go home.
NASCAR teams travel between races in a couple of different ways. The driver typically uses a personal jet. Part of the team will travel in a team hauler, or a semi-truck, to transport the car and backup car. The pit crew will often fly in private planes supplied by the team owner.
NASCAR drivers mainly use personal jets to travel between events, but they often don’t take their teams with them. A NASCAR team comprises an owner, builders, pit crew members, a team manager, and a crew chief, among others. NASCAR teams must also shuttle the most important team member to and from the track: the car – and often its backup car. Without the car, they are not racing that weekend.
NASCAR teams load either one or two cars into a hauler. If you ever see a semi-truck on the highway, think of a NASCAR hauler in the same boat, except the team’s sponsors distinguish the truck. Inside the hauler, you will find a sleeper cab, office space, two decks with multiple car bays, and a parts garage used to store necessary parts if the car(s) need adjustments.
For the one driving the hauler, they do not have the luxury of taking a private plane to the track. The driver may be a member of the team, most likely a builder, who will haul the car to the next track. However, many teams have employed individuals specifically to drive the haulers.
Pit crews often fly in private planes that the team owner supplies. The owner will also take a private plane to the track. Unlike the driver, the pit crews and other members of the team will stay at a team hotel, where the hauler will meet with them after they pull in at the track.
NASCAR drivers travel between races by flying to maximize their work-life balance. Drivers typically live on the road for at least 108 days out of the year, where they stay in a luxurious motorhome. Drivers may choose to go home between races if the event is close enough to do so.