You may not think NASCAR drivers need a driver’s license since they have taken driving to a world-class level. If drivers can race at speeds that exceed 180 miles per hour on closed circuits, many fans may be left wondering if NASCAR drivers actually need a driver’s license.
NASCAR drivers don’t need a state driving license to race in NASCAR-sanctioned events, but they do still need one if they plan to drive a normal vehicle on the road. Instead, they need a special license from NASCAR, which requires them to meet stringent prerequisites.
In the article below, we will explore why NASCAR drivers don’t need a normal license to race in NASCAR-sanctioned events. We will also discuss how prospective drivers can obtain a license to race and the requirements they must meet to race in NASCAR-sanctioned events.
NASCAR drivers need a normal driving license if they want to drive on public roads, but not to race in NASCAR events. They are subject to the same state requirements as anyone else to obtain and renew their licenses if they want to drive around their hometown in their time off.
NASCAR drivers spend most of their time on the road. They arrive at the next racetrack around midweek so they can practice for the upcoming race and fill their team in on what kind of adjustments they need to make to their car. They spend hours behind the wheel perfecting their strategy for the upcoming race before spending three to five hours running the race.
Drivers spend a lot of time on the road even when they are not on the track and they have a home life and they also drive civilian cars, just like everyone else. Just because drivers have taken the craft of driving to a world class level doesn’t mean they are exempt from a normal driver’s license.
NASCAR drivers do not need a state driver’s license to race. Racing in NASCAR is nothing like cruising in town or on a highway. Instead, drivers race heavy stock cars on closed-circuit ovals and the occasional road course. They also worry less about seeing what is beside and behind them thanks to trusty spotters.
Most NASCAR drivers start racing at a young age, so they already have over a decade of driving experience when they apply to drive for NASCAR. This point alone renders a state driver’s license a useless prerequisite to compete on the NASCAR circuit.
NASCAR drivers do need a special driver’s license to compete in NASCAR sanctioned events. This license requires NASCAR drivers to not only know how to drive the car at top speed, but to understand all the ins and outs of the sport and the cars themselves, to ensure it is safe for everyone involved.
Although NASCAR drivers have driver’s licenses that allow them to operate any street legal vehicle they’d like, they must get a special license to compete. And to obtain it, drivers must meet specific requirements. Driving a NASCAR car is no easy endeavor.
If you remember your Driver’s Ed class, they only needed to teach you about the risks of driving a normal car, plus how to recognize street signs, dangers, etc. Think of the special license NASCAR drivers need as a similar concept. NASCAR needs to ensure its prospective drivers can handle a stockcar and are aware of the risks that come with driving for their organization.
NASCAR drivers are not the only ones who need a special license to compete in NASCAR-sanctioned events. Everyone on the driver’s racing team must also obtain a license. This further ensures proficiency in race prep and NASCAR’s safety procedures.
For drivers who own a team crossing into the NASCAR ranks, making sure everyone successfully gets a license may be a lengthy endeavor. If the driver is joining an established NASCAR team, chances are, most members already have the appropriate credentials.
Think back to when you first went through the appropriate course to earn a driving permit. You probably recall feeling some anxiety after realizing how much you needed to know. Each state in the US has stringent requirements for both a driving permit and driver’s license.
If you or anyone you know operates heavy machinery or drives semi-trucks for a living, you may know how challenging it’s to get certified to operate such vehicles. There are millions of drivers who can legally operate civilian vehicles, and hundreds of thousands of people certified to operate semi-trucks and heavy machinery. But there are only a few hundred people licensed by NASCAR.
If you guessed NASCAR’s licensing requirements are more rigorous than that of a normal driver’s license, a CDL, or a certification to operate machinery such as a forklift, you are correct. You cannot receive a NASCAR license if you are faint-hearted.
NASCAR wants its drivers to be well-versed in the vehicles they will be operating. They require drivers to know a stock car to some degree, although they don’t need to be a car expert. That’s why they will have a team of experts who build and maintain the car.
However, drivers must spend time getting to know these cars before they even think about applying for a NASCAR license. To do this, they usually find a mentor on the local and regional levels who can teach them about racing stock cars.
They also require drivers to know more than just the basic ins and outs of stock cars. They also need to show NASCAR they have valuable driving experience. NASCAR will test drivers on basic driving concepts, so unless they are a good test taker, lack of driving experience will hurt.
If drivers have no mentor or racing experience, their best bet is to enroll in a NASCAR driving school. This will provide more insights on the demands of being a driver. They will discover that NASCAR requires its drivers to have a sound understanding in public relations and personal conduct.
The best way drivers prepare for NASCAR’s requirements is to race locally. Even if they start their driving career in go-karts or midget cars, racing on the local scene will also familiarize them with the technical aspects of different vehicles, including stock cars.
The earlier they start racing, the more experience they will attain before they take the next step and apply for your NASCAR license. For many drivers, gaining car knowledge and experience is the easy part, because if they are racing, they are already showing interest in their vehicle’s mechanics.
Networking is the toughest part about becoming a NASCAR driver. But to obtain a NASCAR license, it’s paramount that drivers master the art of networking because they will be tested. Sound networking involves reaching out to local businesses in hopes of obtaining sponsorship and perhaps appearing in commercials representing them at local events.
Why does this matter? Because drivers must constantly represent their sponsors in a positive manner. Cup Series drivers make numerous appearances for their sponsors on race day and throughout the week when they are not conducting a practice session. Successful drivers connect with sponsors, represent them well, and maintain long-term relationships with them.
It costs between $110 and $2000+ for a NASCAR license, but the costs may rise depending on the series. With the license, drivers also receive $1 million in insurance coverage. The insurance they receive only applies to NASCAR tracks. These costs apply for anyone associated with the team.
They must also pass a NASCAR-sanctioned drug test as part of the overall costs and must renew their license annually. This is because NASCAR is always coming up with new safety procedures and policies, so drivers must be well-versed to continue racing for them.
If a driver has raced in other motorsports, they are not automatically granted the right to race in NASCAR if they wish. NASCAR will not allow anyone from Formula One, IndyCar, NHRA, or any professional organization to race for them unless that driver and their team obtain a license.
Every motorsport organization is different, so what may certify a driver to race in Formula One may not apply to NASCAR, and vice-versa. Even if someone raced in other professional stock car organizations, they must still meet NASCAR’s requirements to receive a license.
You get a NASCAR license by applying for one at your local NASCAR operated track or by going to NASCAR’s headquarters. You will need to pay for one ($110-$2000+) and show that you are both a competent driver and that you understand what stock car racing involves. It can be a complex process.
NASCAR differs from other private organizations when they license their drivers. For many careers that require special licenses, the organization will offer paid training and test taking. NASCAR doesn’t do this. You don’t apply for a job in NASCAR and then just take the necessary tests.
Instead, you must venture to either NASCAR Headquarters or the closest NASCAR-sanctioned track to get your license. However, you cannot just show up at a local track and ask to apply for a NASCAR license. You need to show NASCAR you are worthy of getting a license through them. To do this, you need to fine-tune your driving resume.
To get serious consideration from NASCAR, you need to display your finest accomplishments. This means putting down each win or high-placing finish at the most prominent events. You should also add any sponsors to your resume who you managed to connect with throughout your grassroots racing career. These sponsors also make for references that NASCAR requires through the application process.
While NASCAR has high requirements for their licensing, it’s relatively easy to obtain if you make the proper preparations. If you have little to no experience driving stock cars and misunderstand important aspects like publications, you probably won’t get a NASCAR license.
However, if you spend time honing your driving skills, learning the ins and outs of your car, and making connections with people heavily involved in the sport, you should fulfill NASCAR’s requirements. Note, that it takes years of preparation before you are ready to apply for a NASCAR license, just like it takes years for any elite athlete to reach the professional level in their chosen sport.
While NASCAR drivers don’t need a state driver’s license to compete in sanctioned events, they must obtain a special license from NASCAR. The process of earning a NASCAR license is rigorous. It takes years of racing and learning about stock cars to earn the special license.
I created and have been writing on this site since 2019, collaborating with drivers, coaches, engineers and manufacturers to provide you with the most reliable information about motorsport. Find out more about me here.