North Carolina has long been considered the birthplace of NASCAR, and in the early days, it and other states in the southeast held an abundance of race tracks. Even in the 21st century, many drivers call North Carolina home. There are 4 major reasons why NASCAR drivers live in North Carolina.
The 4 reasons NASCAR drivers live in North Carolina are:
- It’s close to team headquarters
- Lots of nearby NASCAR tracks
- More opportunities for family time
- NASCAR’s roots are there
Below, we will look further into the 4 major reasons why NASCAR drivers call North Carolina home. We will also answer whether all drivers live in North Carolina and if all NASCAR teams set up headquarters there.
Not all NASCAR drivers live in North Carolina, but many choose to. This has been the case for many years, as North Carolina is a very convenient place to live as a NASCAR driver for several reasons. However, many other NASCAR drivers will live in states like Virginia, Georgia, and Florida instead.
The Case In Other Sports
Every sport has its hotbed or birthplace.Take pro football, and you will find its main base in Canton, Ohio, which is the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s location. Or ice hockey, whose hall of fame is located in Toronto, Ontario.
However, you don’t see all 2,000-plus NFL players and teams set up shop in different parts of Canton. They are scattered all over America. Ditto for the NHL, except the league has teams based in 7 Canadian cities.
Now, there are 32 NHL teams and 32 NFL teams. Their players will call their respective cities home at least during their respective seasons. Something similar goes for NASCAR drivers. If their team is based in North Carolina, they will live in North Carolina for at least 9 months each year.
While it is possible NASCAR drivers own homes in different states, they will spend little time there since NASCAR’s business operations are also based in North Carolina.Therefore, it is more convenient for drivers to live there, than in other parts of the country.
Although you will see plenty of NASCAR drivers living in North Carolina, it is not the state where most drivers are born. Most NASCAR fans would believe a state in the Southeast United States produces the most NASCAR drivers if the honor does not go to North Carolina.
But you may be surprised that many NASCAR drivers come from California. In 2015, NASCAR’s top 3 series (Cup, Xfinity, Truck) had 20 drivers claiming a Californian hometown. That same year, North Carolina had 14 drivers claim a hometown in the state, which ranked 2nd in NASCAR.
Georgia, Virginia, and Florida ranked 3rd, 4th, and 5th on the list. International drivers clocked in at 6th on the list that season. So, with California ranking at number 1, it showed that many drivers are okay with moving from coast to coast if it means a successful NASCAR career. These numbers are not the same for the current Cup Series though, where NC comes out on top.
Where NASCAR Drivers Were Born
|Birthplace||Number of Drivers|
The table above illustrates where all the drivers that competed in any Cup Series races in 2022 were born. Rather unsurprisingly, the largest share of drivers were born in North Carolina (8), with California close behind (7). Even though many states on the list only claim one NASCAR driver to have been born there, it shows how diverse the lineup can be with drivers from all over North America.
36% of NASCAR drivers in the 2022 season were born in North Carolina, California or Florida
All chartered and most non-chartered NASCAR teams are based in North Carolina. This was not always the case. Bobby Allison and his Alabama Gang operated out of Hueytown, Alabama. But Allison was an outlier, and he raced for other teams based in North Carolina like the Stravola Brothers.
Of all the NASCAR Cup teams based in North Carolina, only one non-chartered team is based elsewhere. Team Stange Racing runs operations out of Chicago, Illinois.
Recently, NASCAR had one chartered team that operated not just outside North Carolina, but to the west of the Mississippi River. That team was Furniture Row Racing,who set up shop in Denver, Colorado.
Furniture Row also holds the distinction of becoming the first single-car team to earn a trip to the NASCAR playoffs. However, they closed up shop following the 2018 season, citing a lack of sponsorship.
1. It’s Close To Team Headquarters
With all but one chartered and non-chartered team based in North Carolina, NASCAR drivers will move close to where their job is. This makes it easy for them to meet with their teams and prepare for upcoming races.
Just as an NFL player moves close to their team’s headquarters when they plan on playing in a specific city for an extended period of time, NASCAR drivers are in the same situation.
NASCAR drivers sign contracts with these teams for a specified number of years, meaning they know where they will work for the foreseeable future. This prompts them to buy a home near their new team’s headquarters.
Drivers must remain in constant interaction with their pit crews, engineers, builders, mechanics, specialists, team managers, crew chiefs, and team owners. While they can do this virtually, it is more convenient for drivers to be at the race shop.
They can get a complete visual of their car for the weekend, make recommendations to the mechanics and builders on how to fine-tune it, and attend meetings with their crew chief, owner, and crew members.
Often, teams need to have the car ready to go by Tuesday so they can haul it and a backup car to the next track. The driver, however, often does not need to be at the track until Thursday, but when they venture to the track, they don’t need to go far.
2. Lots Of Nearby NASCAR Tracks
You may think this is untrue since NASCAR tracks are no longer predominantly based in the Southeastern United States.At one time, NASCAR had three tracks in North Carolina: North Wilkesboro, Rockingham, and Charlotte. In 2022, only Charlotte remains.
However, many tracks are still situated around North Carolina.They include Bristol, Charlotte, Atlanta, Circuit of the Americas, Daytona, Darlington, Homestead, Martinsville, Nashville, Richmond, Talladega, and the Texas Motor Speedway.
That’s 12 tracks and even more events. And while you might say two of the tracks listed above are as far away as Texas, it is important to remember that NASCAR drivers fly, and they don’t drive, to these tracks. They’re not sitting in the passenger seat of their car’s hauler.
At one time, some drivers would haul their own car. J.D. McDuffie, Kirk Shelmerdine, and other independent racers would do this. But, since all drivers fly to the respective race track in the 21st century, they can even reach the Texas Motor Speedway within three hours.
For NASCAR drivers, living in North Carolina is far more convenient than living in places like California, Arizona, Nevada, or Washington. While you have two tracks in California, one in Arizona, and one in Nevada, most are still based in the Eastern United States.
However, suppose a driver decided to live in the Northeastern United States during the NASCAR season.They only have Pocono, New Hampshire, Dover, Indianapolis, Michigan, World Wide Technology, and Road America up north.
That’s a shade over half as many Cup Series tracks located in the Northeast and Northern United States as there are in the Southeastern United States. So, although tracks are more widespread, North Carolina is nearest to most of them.
Coupled with the fact NASCAR teams base their headquarters there, it is much more convenient for drivers and their families to live in North Carolina.
3. More Opportunities For Family Time
Speaking of families, NASCAR drivers must play the parent role. Yes, most drivers have marital and parental obligations that can only be accomplished through living somewhere close to work, half the tracks, and most events on the Cup Series circuit.
The NASCAR season is a long one, lasting nearly ten months in a calendar year. Since the season is so long, drivers strive to make as much family time as they can since many will end up racing for between 10 and 20 seasons either in the Cup Series or lower levels.
If they lived out in California, a state many drivers are from, they would never see their families unless a race happened to be run in the Western United States.
Tracks located out west include Phoenix, Auto Club, Sonoma, Las Vegas, and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. They run two races at Phoenix, two in Las Vegas, and one race at the other tracks. Meaning little family time for these drivers racing predominantly out east.
Race tracks are scattered all over the country and NASCAR has even raced outside the Continental United States. What if NASCAR expanded the number of races at venues outside the Southeastern United States?
Would it prompt NASCAR drivers to move elsewhere? Odds are, they probably would not. Even if the tracks were more scattered about, NASCAR team headquarters would remain based in North Carolina, prompting drivers to remain.
The odds of this happening are also slim as of 2022. NASCAR is seriously considering a return to the Nashville Fairgrounds, a venue the Cup Series had not raced since 1984. The Truck Series is also considering a return to North Wilkesboro.
While Speedway Motorsports has stated North Wilkesboro does not have the infrastructure to host Xfinity and Cup Series events, it hosted them in the past. So never say never. And if the Cup Series returned to North Wilkesboro, it adds yet another proximal event for drivers.
Look at any sports organization out there and its perceived birthplace. In the NFL, it’s Canton, Ohio. It seems as though just about every player that strapped on an NFL helmet has made a pilgrimage to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
NASCAR is no different. It traces its roots back to the state of North Carolina, particularly the Appalachian regions. Okay, but not all NFL players live in Canton. So why would this prompt drivers and their teams to live in North Carolina?
The reason is simple: NASCAR teams and drivers are not obligated to a city.NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB teams are. So, although they were born in different parts of the US and Canada, they will have a ‘home’ city where their team is based. This isn’t the case in NASCAR.
NASCAR’s roots are in North Carolina, which prompted teams with no obligation to other regions to set up shop there. And since tracks used to be almost exclusively located in the Southeastern United States with few outliers, North Carolina made sense.
Many NASCAR legends that simultaneously started race teams are also from North Carolina. Ditto for many team owners. Rick Hendrick, Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Richard Childress, and Michael Jordan were either born in or grew up in North Carolina.
So not only do NASCAR’s roots lay in North Carolina, but so do most of today’s NASCAR legends and team owners.
The main reason NASCAR drivers live in North Carolina is convenience. Drivers need to be close to their respective teams. Also, more than 50% of NASCAR’s tracks are in the Southeast. Living in North Carolina also gives drivers more time with family since they don’t have to travel.