How much money do NASCAR drivers make? Prize money, endorsements...
NASCAR drivers make a healthy living via a three-pronged revenue stream, which makes some of the best extremely rich.
When fans of car racing talk about NASCAR drivers, as well as the talent and devotion that has gone into them reaching the top, there’s an aspect of danger considered, much like with other motorsport contests. Attempting to win races and prove themselves as the best, they do so while making decisions in a fraction of a second at speeds of over 200 MPH. These drivers wouldn’t stand a chance of surviving 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 to the way they perform.
But, apart from driving these flat sheet metal cars with sophisticated technology and heavy-duty equipment at break-neck speeds, possessing unbelievable concentration and endurance, and the ability to weave through traffic, what can these drivers expect to 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. Then there’s the likes of Kyle Busch but more on him later.
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 2024 the purse for the league’s most prominent race, the Daytona 500, is reportedly just north of $28 million, up over a million on the previous year. Although it’s not completely clear how the split works, the winner can expect to get something between $1.5-$2 million.
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.
All that taken into account, according to several reports, the average Nascar Driver in the US makes $112,038 annually.
Who is the highest paid NASCAR driver
In 2023, the highest-paid NASCAR driver was Kyle Busch, the American’s salary coming in at a whopping $16.9 million, wuth reports suggesting that, when winnings and endorsements, his net worth could be in the region of around $80 million. At the time of writing, the now-38-year-old has well over 200 overall career victories, 63 of them being NASCAR Cup wins.