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Racing

How much money do NASCAR drivers make?

How much a NASCAR driver makes is a three-way process that includes a good chunk of money, even for some inexperienced drivers. How much do they earn here

Update:
How much a NASCAR driver makes is a three-way process that includes a good chunk of money, even for some inexperienced drivers. How much do they earn here
Tim NwachukwuAFP

When fans of car racing talk about NASCAR and/or Formula 1, there is almost always one thing they say in common: the will and skill it takes to be a professional driver is underrated.

As professional racing drivers attempt to win races, they do so while making decisions in a fraction of a second at speeds over 200 MPH. These drivers wouldn’t stand a chance to survive if they didn’t have quick reflexes, and weren’t in top physical condition. And while it may seem that they don’t need to be fit to race, weight and physical condition actually makes a huge difference in the way they perform. Who’s a better driver to talk about this than seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton? Start video at 1:45 mins:

Related: Lewis Hamilton: ‘I’ve struggled mentally and emotionally for a long time’

So apart from driving these flat sheet metal cars with sophisticated technology and heavy-duty equipment, possessing endurance, the ability to weave through traffic, and skill to display remarkable track vision, what do these drivers get in return?

What is NASCAR?

NASCAR, which stands for the ‘National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing’ is a reputable sanctioning company worth over $100 million that allows drivers and teams to join different race competitions as they ensure their safety. Becoming a NASCAR driver is often a difficult and long process that requires enrolling in race school, earning competition license, having a profound understanding of a car’s system and all the ways it works.

But once a driver steps over to the green side, salaries and earnings can be very promising, depending on position, experience, education and other variables like making themselves marketable.

How much money do NASCAR drivers make?

First and foremost, NASCAR drivers are paid a base salary from their teams that can vary anywhere from $50,000 for developmental drivers to $10 million for acclaimed drivers like Brad Keselowski or Kasey Kahne.

Secondly, drivers can make insane prize money from winning races. The higher they rank, the more money they get to take home. For example, in 2022 some reports indicate that the 2022 purse for the league’s most prominent race, the Daytona 500, is $23.6 million. That’s quite a huge amount of money, keeping in mind that the winner does not keep the entire purse for himself; he must pay his employees, the car owners and sponsors, who are entitled to some of the payouts. Through the purse split, however, the winner can still take home $47,500 a race, on average, while the loser can make close to $8,500. That’s just prize money.

Last but not least, there is endorsement money and licensing, which adds to the equation as well but very much depends on the driver, his public image and his sponsors. Even some of the most inexperienced drivers with salaries close to $500,000 can make up to $1 million every year alone in endorsements.

According to several reports, the average Nascar Driver in the US makes $112,038 annually.

Highest paid NASCAR driver

In 2021, the highest-paid NASCAR driver was Kyle Busch. The American’s salary was $17.8 million, including all winnings and endorsements, making his net worth approximately $80 million. The now-37-year-old has more than 200 overall career victories, 56 of them being NASCAR Cup wins.

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