When outsiders criticize NASCAR, it often hits on the same old stereotypes. It's boring because they only turn left, or it's an inferior sport because it is too easy. They usually hold up the athletes in their favorite sport next to a picture of three time champion Tony Stewart as proof that being a winning NASCAR driver isn't physically demanding.
Knowledgeable fans know that the athlete argument is ridiculous, given the concentration, endurance and guts required to drive a 200 mph sauna for hours on end inches away from the other cars. This usually isn't enough to change anyone's mind because it is too hard to prove.
Not any more! We came across a study done by sports scientists from the United States Olympic Committee that actually quantify just how demanding each sport is. When the scientists factored in 10 different aspects of 60 sports, auto racing came in right in the middle of the pack at number 32.
But, racing came away number one in the "Nerve" category. The study defined nerve as the ability to overcome fear, so it makes sense that race car drivers have more to overcome than any other sport in that area.
Next time someone says driving a NASCAR is easy, remind them that the Olympic Committee themselves say it takes more guts to drive than to ride a bull.
Related: Two NASCAR drivers set out to prove they are real athletes