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USA Network shows like “Austin Dillon’s Life In The Fast Lane” and “Race For The Championship” highlight the lives and careers of NASCAR’s top-level drivers. Watching them may inspire viewers to get into professional racing themselves, but there is a long road between a beginner and the elite athletes of NASAR, which may be harder to navigate than expected.
If you've ever wondered how you could make your way to the racing track, here's what to know.
The unfortunate truth is that most of the best drivers got their start as children. Austin Dillon, for example, was born into a racing family and was able to pick up the sport early on. Meanwhile, “Race For The Championship” star Kyle Larson began kart racing as a young boy and eventually got noticed early in adulthood.
However, if you’re closer to adulthood than adolescence, that doesn’t mean you can’t get started now and have a lucrative career behind the wheel. It just means you have somewhat of a disadvantage.
In addition, it’s worth mentioning that driving is an expensive sport, even for beginners. The goal is to ultimately have someone else pay for your time on the track, but no one should go into it thinking they won’t be investing hefty sums of cash to get their career started.
Like Larson, the first thing you’ll want to do is get into kart racing. Flow Racers notes it's the cheapest inroad to a motorsport career and a great place to learn the fundamentals of competitive driving and vehicle maintenance, plus it offers many paths to get recognized by the people who will help you graduate to cars eventually.
In fact, kart racing is also the earliest tier of racing that can yield sponsorships if you position yourself among the right people. This circuit includes ambitious up-and-comers as well as hobbyists who don’t plan to take their racing beyond the love of karts. So, it’s easy to rise above the rest if your goal is to do so.
While karting is certainly the traditional starting place, circumstances or age may allow you to skip a step and get right into car racing. That’s OK, but know you’ll be joining the process late and with less experience than someone who worked their way up from the karts. However, if the talent is in you, this shouldn’t matter. Ultimately, the outlet reports everyone is trying to qualify for series like the ARCA or NASCAR Xfinity where you’ll really start to pick up attention.
While getting your career in karting going, it’s also a great idea to get involved on a local level. Motorsport.com suggests you go to your local track and invest in a pit pass so you can get a behind-the-scenes look at the ins and outs of professional racing. It also offers an opportunity for you to introduce yourself to people with an established foothold in the business.
This will allow you to show that you've got what it takes to handle the business side of racing, which includes networking, doing interviews, and living your life as a constant ambassador for your sponsors.
Be mindful, however, that everyone you’re likely to meet is there doing a job and won’t take kindly to an ambitious would-be pro getting in the way. Be respectful, pick your moments, and show that you’ve got the charisma and drive to work with them in the future.
Get Educated And Get Your License
By and large, most experts agree going to racing school is a good idea if you’re serious about reaching the professional level in NASCAR. As talented as you may be, many great racers have let their ego get the better of them and have refused the education and networking opportunities racing school presents.
It will offer you insight, time with driving experts, and access to the equipment you’ll be using in the future. It will also help you be taken more seriously and provide important credentials when it comes time to get your NASCAR license.
This leads us to the last step. To compete in NASCAR, you’ll need that license and to renew it every year.
It’s also worth noting that NASCAR will insist on a medical examination to make sure you’re not risking injury to yourself or others on the track if you lack the fitness required to compete in NASCAR. While it may not look like it, drivers in professional motorsports require extreme athleticism.
Once you’ve got the license, you’ve networked with the right people, maybe obtained a sponsorship, and educated yourself on racing, nothing is standing between you and riding side-by-side with your heroes in NASCAR.
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