Sure these guys make their living at almost 200 miles per hour, but the racecar drivers of NASCAR know when it’s time to slow down and smell the roses — especially when it comes to their kids.
In honor of Father’s Day some of NASCAR’s top drivers, including Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin and Ryan Newman, reflected on the holiday and what it means to be behind the wheel of a family, as well as their own interactions with their fathers.
Gordon, who’s expecting his second child with wife Ingrid Vandebosch later this summer, said that fatherhood is “an elite club and only people who are parents can understand it and are a part of it, and it’s very special.
“It’s a lot of hard work,” Gordon continued. “I have a whole new appreciation for my parents and all of the parents that are out there because even with the luxuries that I’m able to have, it is one of the toughest things. It’s the toughest thing that I have ever been a part of, but at the same time, the most gratifying and exciting thing I’ve ever been a part of.”
Veteran racer Martin said that being a dad is always a “maturing factor.”
“You see everything so much differently in life when you have a child,” Martin, a father-of-five, said.
Newman, the 2008 Daytona 500 winner, explained the influence his father Greg had on his career.
“I think everyone has heard the story, now, that when I was born my dad looked at me and said ‘We have ourselves a racecar driver,’” Newman said. “My dad got me my first Quarter Midget, and I started racing at 4½. But this wasn’t something he pushed me to do. He wanted to make sure that it wasn’t something he was pushing me to do, that it’s what I wanted as much as him, and I did. In fact, I think he would tell you that I wasn’t too happy when he tried to take racing away from me. I appreciate that, in hindsight.
“Having him at the racetrack is something that is very special to me,” Newman continued. “Having him spot for me when I won the Daytona 500 in 2008, hearing the excitement in his voice, listening to him get choked up and then hugging him in victory lane. That was something not many people have. That was our dream coming full circle.”
This father’s day, catch the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway on June 20 (3 pm ET/Noon PT on TNT); for more info, visit www.infineonraceway.com.