Spiders? Snakes? What scares NASCAR drivers?
NASCAR drivers race at 200 miles per hour within inches of each other. They roll and tumble and slide in front of oncoming traffic. They hit walls at astonishing speeds.
This doesn’t scare them. If it did, they wouldn’t be doing it. Fear of injury -- or worse -- has to be removed from the conversation.
So, what does scare drivers? Some of the answers might ...well ... be scary.
“Birds,” said Chase Briscoe. “Birds freak me out for whatever reason. I think one got in the race shop when I was younger and came flying at me. And horses. I love looking at them, but up close they freak me out. I’m afraid they’re going to kick me.”
But horsepower -- Briscoe likes that.
Kyle Busch admits to having some anxious moments when he watches his son, Brexton, race. “But what is fear?” he said. “I’ve wrecked enough hard times to know that that’s inevitable. Failure. Fear of failure. That’s it. Failure.”
Austin Cindric, the 2022 Cup Series Rookie of the Year, is 24 and not married. “Relationships,” he said. “Women. It’s just outside of my comfort zone. Social settings.”
Austin Dillon is not scared of a thing. He’s scared of a man -- fellow driver Max Papis.
“Not being in control probably scares me,” Dillon said. “I rode with Max Papis in a two-seater race car. It’s probably the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life. He drove the absolute snot out of the car. I was just along for the ride. I knew Max, but he had stories of wrecking really hard. I knew if something broke, I’m in trouble.”
Christopher Bell expressed fear of something that probably lurks in the dark thoughts of many drivers.
“Fire,” he said. “Fire scares me. I think if you ask every race car driver that’s the thing that scares them. Just that and not being able to get out of the car.”
For Ross Chastain, trouble means the female authority figures in his family.
“My mom,” he said when asked what scares him. “Mom and grandmothers. They run our family. Get on their bad side, and it’s going to be tough sledding. But I wouldn’t be living up to the reputation of a bad-to-the-bone race car driver if I didn’t. They keep their thumbs on us.”
Kyle Larson recently bought a house in the Arizona desert, and he is quickly learning about some of the creatures who share that part of the world. Some of them don’t impress him.
“I’ve already seen a bobcat and a wild boar (probably a javelina) in my driveway,” Larson said, clearly not interested in more sightings. “We live right next to a wash, and I guess all the animals use my driveway to get back out in the desert. I look at them as non-pets.”