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How to Become a NASCAR Driver, From Racing School to Sponsorships AP Photo/Wade Payne
AP Photo/Wade Payne

So, you think you have what it takes to begin a racing career as a NASCAR driver. However, not just anyone pull into the speedway and start racing. There’s a certain route that you’ll need to take in order to make becoming a professional race car driver much more attainable. So where exactly do you start?

Normally, it’s pretty common for NASCAR drivers to start go-kart racing at a young age. In many instances, this racing experience from karting will give that driver the early edge that they need to stand out in motorsports. If you’re past that age point, don’t worry, because there are other ways to make that NASCAR racing dream a reality. Below, we’ll look at where you should direct your energy.

Check Out Your Local Race Track

Chances are, if your goal is to become a racer, you’ve probably already been to the local tracks in the area. If you haven’t, this should be your first step. Additionally, purchasing something like a pit pass will be extremely beneficial. Not only will this present you the opportunity to check out what goes on in the pits, but you’ll also potentially be able to chat with some of the drivers and racing team members.

These drivers and crew members will be able to answer handfuls of questions accurately, as well as give you helpful insights as to what your next steps should be for getting involved in the sport. Ask about age requirements, licenses, and the best way to go about starting.

While these folks can be a great help, it’s important to always be respectful and courteous. These teams will very often be pressed for time on certain occasions, so ensure that they’re not in the middle of something before you go and bombard them with questions.

Get Involved With Lower Level Racing

If you’re too young to get behind the wheel of a race car, you’ll need to get involved with go-karting, as mentioned above. Alternatively for the older racers, you’ll need to hop into a car and prove your talent in the lower level categories of racing. For NASCAR, there’s a ladder system that allows you to work your way up the ranks and into different racing series.

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Whether you’re thinking of joining street stocks, late models, or modifieds, these national series divisions will show what you’re capable of on the race track. If you see some success, you may see the opportunity arise to move up in divisions. Practice makes perfect, so it’ll take lots of hard work to hone your driving skills in order to set yourself apart from the competition.

Understand Your Race Car

This is a key factor in doing well on the raceway. Being a hard charger and a skilled driver will only get you so far, but you’ll need to be able to also communicate with your race team on issues that you’re feeling with the car, or adjustments that need to be made. Pit crews and race teams are extremely capable, but they must clearly understand what needs to be changed in order to put down faster lap times.

Being behind the wheel puts you in the primary position to notice when something feels off about your car. Being able to narrow these issues down will drastically cut down pit times, and hopefully lead to faster laps. Whether on the track or in your off-time, it’s good to gain more knowledge of your race car’s technical aspects.

Auto Racing School

Keep in mind that if you’re looking to reach the top level in stock car racing, you’ll need a proper competition license. There are a handful of helpful professional racing schools that will help you truly hone in your racing abilities. It’s almost like a college degree, but for racing.

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These driving courses will get you much more comfortable with the high-speed challenges in the upper categories of NASCAR races. As you gain more experience, it will prove beneficial in the long run for rising up in the ranks.

There are multiple tiers to NASCAR, and getting involved with one of these driving schools will greatly increase your chances of reaching your desired level. On top of crafting your driving skill, you’ll need to spend significant time at each level to meet other requirements. For example, if your goal is to reach the NASCAR Cup Series, you’ll need a specific amount of laps completed in the ARCA racing series to qualify for the license.

Getting Sponsorships

Attaining sponsorships and networking with the right people is half the battle. You can be a great driver, but if no one is willing to sponsor you, it’s going to be pretty difficult to get anywhere. Racing is extremely expensive, so lightening the financial load with the right sponsors is crucial to your success.

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Whether you’re networking through social media or in-person at the tracks, it’s important to continually grow your brand, and develop a name for yourself. As you get more of a reputation, these offers will present themselves in a more frequent manner. You’ll also need to be confident when talking to high-powered individuals, and in front of cameras or large audiences. Sponsors can sense when drivers in their own driving ability.

Once you land your sponsors, you’ll be in a very good position to advance, granted that you do equally as well on the track. Combining all these aspects together, this is what it takes to make it big as a NASCAR driver. It’s no easy task, but that’s why they have the best drivers in the top-level categories of racing. Put in the time, develop your talent, and the sky is the limit. Maybe one day, we’ll see you at Daytona.

WATCH: 10 Ridiculous NASCAR Sponsors That Never Panned Out

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