How to Become a NASCAR Driver (2023 Career Guide + 7 Steps)

In this definitive guide, I’m going to teach you, how to become a NASCAR driver (step by step) and how to get a NASCAR license and start your racing journey.

What is NASCAR?

So I hope, you want to learn how to become a NASCAR driver.

But don’t know from where to start? How to apply for NASCAR driving license?

Don’t worry, you’re in the right place.

In this article, I will guide you through the step-by-step process of becoming a NASCAR driver and obtaining NASCAR driving license.

Also check out my ultimate guides on becoming a digital marketerproduct managersoftware developersocial media manager and web designer.

So, strap in, rev your engines, and let’s hit the track!

What is NASCAR?

NASCAR is a reputable racing organization that promotes driver and team safety. Becoming a NASCAR driver involves attending race school, obtaining a competition license, and gaining a deep understanding of car systems.

It is a challenging and lengthy process. However, once established, drivers can earn promising salaries and earnings based on their position, experience, education, and marketability.

NASCAR, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, is a high-value sanctioning company that prioritizes safety and offers lucrative opportunities for skilled drivers.

How Much Does A NASCAR Driver Make?

Firstly, NASCAR drivers receive a base salary from their teams, ranging from $50,000 for developing drivers to $10 million for renowned drivers like Brad Keselowski or Kasey Kahne.

Secondly, drivers can earn substantial prize money by winning races. The higher their ranking, the more money they receive. For instance, the reported purse for the 2022 Daytona 500 race was $23.6 million.

However, winners don’t keep the entire purse; they must allocate payouts to their employees, car owners, and sponsors. On average, winners can take home around $47,500 per race, while losers can earn close to $8,500.

Lastly, endorsement money and licensing contribute to the equation, depending on the driver’s public image and sponsors. Even less experienced drivers with salaries around $500,000 can earn up to $1 million annually in endorsements.

Reports suggest that the average NASCAR driver in the US earns $112,038 per year.

Also, NAZCAR driving is not the only way to make money as a driver, there is plenty of other driving careers you can pursue in 2023.

How Much Does It Cost To Run A Team In NASCAR

Owning a NASCAR team is a substantial financial commitment, costing over $500,000 per week and exceeding $15-20 million annually for the 38-week season. It entails expenses such as salaries, cars, and transport, which may increase in the short term.

Step by Step Guide: How to Become a NASCAR Driver

Step by Step Guide: How to Become a NASCAR Driver

Step 1: Start from Understanding NASCAR Racing

Before embarking on your journey to become a NASCAR driver, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the world of NASCAR.

NASCAR, which stands for the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, is a premier motorsport organization that organizes various racing series in North America.

From the high-octane NASCAR Cup Series to the exciting NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, there are multiple paths to becoming a NASCAR driver.

Step 2: start Driving at Your Local Racetrack

Step 2: start Driving at Your Local Racetrack

This step may not seem important, but it is. Some NASCAR-sanctioned tracks accept NASCAR license applications.

If possible, get a pit pass. It lets you go behind the scenes and meet more people in the motorsport world. Networking is crucial in racing, so the more people you meet, the better.

Being behind the scenes of a NASCAR race gives you an idea of how things work and what to expect when you start racing. It’s on a smaller scale, but observe the drivers’ actions outside the car. It will also be a lot of fun!

You might meet someone who can help you get on the grid or sponsor you in NASCAR. Stay open-minded and connect with people, especially those who attend races.

Check if your local circuit offers karting facilities. If they do, start with karting. It’s essential for most racing drivers, including NASCAR drivers. More on this soon.

>> Race Track Locator and Speedway Directory for The USA

Step 3: Obtain A basic competition Racing License

When you’re at the local track, ask the drivers where you can apply for a racing license. If you’re new to racing, you’ll probably start with a basic competition license. It allows you to race in karting and smaller car leagues.

Obtaining a basic competition license is straightforward. You may need to undergo a medical check-up, and sometimes there’s a driving ability test, although this is rare. These licenses are usually given to young karting beginners, so prior racing experience isn’t required.

Once you have your competition license, you’re ready to start karting or racing cars, depending on your age and preference. Remember, it’s your journey, and you don’t have to follow what everyone else is doing.

Step 4: Grasp the Fundamentals of Driving by Racing Karts

grasp the fundamentals of driving by Racing Karts

Karting is the most affordable motorsport. That’s why it’s often the first step for many racing drivers. However, it can still be quite expensive, so be ready for the costs.

Karting is a competitive sport, whether you want to be a pro or race as a hobby. It doesn’t matter if you’re on a circuit or an oval track. The key is to grasp the fundamentals of driving fast and competing in a challenging environment.

Learn About The Kart Racing

It’s smart to learn how to tune and set up your kart to match your driving style. This knowledge will be useful when you move on to tuning car setups, especially if you aim to join NASCAR.

Karting spans from local leagues to major national and international events. Competing at a national level increases your chances of being noticed as a promising racing driver. It’s a valuable addition to your racing resume, and top NASCAR and IndyCar teams often scout for talented drivers in karting leagues.

If you spend a few years in karting, aim to participate in significant national events like the Las Vegas Supernats. This karting event attracts motorsport enthusiasts from around the world.

Step 5: Start Racing Cars Locally

Karting is crucial for a driver’s development, but it’s not a make-or-break factor. Even if you haven’t done karting, you can still pursue a NASCAR license if you’re old enough for cars. You might start a bit behind those with karting experience, but you can catch up quickly and become a skilled driver.

When you shift to cars, begin at the local level to keep costs down. Focus on being competitive and learning about cars and racing. It’s a whole new learning experience compared to karting.

Great series to advance into are the ARCA series and the NASCAR Xfinity series, but they’re a few levels higher than karting. It’s also beneficial to build a fan base before reaching these series, as it adds more excitement and attention to your career. Hailie Deegan serves as a good example; she gained recognition in the motorsport world even before joining a reputable racing series.

Step 6: Sharpen Your Skills By Attending a Racing School

Remember that many people have more experience than you. Even if you’re a skilled driver, without learning and gaining experience, your talent goes to waste.

Stay open-minded and eager to learn. Attending a racing school, like those hosted by the SCCA (Sports Car Club of America), is a great idea (Best Racing Schools in America). The instructors there are experienced and can provide valuable tips to improve your driving. It’s also an opportunity to connect with experienced individuals in the motorsport world.

Some racetracks offer NASCAR driving courses. These courses allow you to drive a powerful race car under the supervision of professional racing instructors. They can also be a chance to network with potential sponsors or team owners.

Step 7: Apply For Your NASCAR License

Apply for your official NASCAR license at either the NASCAR headquarters or a local NASCAR-sanctioned circuit. These circuits are located throughout the country.

The requirements for obtaining a NASCAR license are:

  • Minimum age of 18
  • Possible driving ability test conducted by NASCAR officials
  • Physical fitness, with potential physical examinations
  • Necessary documents, waivers, applications, and consents as required by NASCAR
  • Medical check-up similar to the one for a standard competition license, ensuring you’re fit to drive the car

You’ll also need to provide your racing experience. NASCAR will conduct background checks to assess your qualifications for the license. If they find your racing experience insufficient, they may ask you to take a driving ability test conducted by NASCAR officials. Their decision on your application will be final. Failing the test means your application will be rejected, requiring you to reapply at a later time.

Once you have your NASCAR license, it needs to be renewed annually. The process is straightforward through the NASCAR members website. Renewal is easier because the background research has already been conducted for your initial license application. However, there is a cost associated with the renewal.

NASCAR License Application Process

When someone believes they have the qualifications and experience to become a NASCAR driver, they can acquire a NASCAR racing license. To apply for the license, drivers have four options.

They can email scanned copies of their application and waiver forms to NASCAR or send physical copies by mail to NASCAR headquarters.

Another option is to visit their local track and apply in person, where the necessary forms are available. In all cases, drivers need to pass a drug test before their application can be approved.

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How to Find a NASCAR Team

Here are few tips to finding a NASCAR Team:

  • Obtaining a NASCAR racing license is the first step.
  • Getting financial support from a team is crucial as running your own team is costly.
  • Aligning with a wealthy team owner in NASCAR increases the chances of success.
  • Team owners assist drivers in securing sponsors and generating income.
  • Successful drivers often use the money earned during racing to establish their own teams.

Tips For Getting Into NASCAR Driving

  • Prepare financially for the expensive journey to NASCAR; seek sponsors early.
  • Stay focused on each race and avoid distractions from the dream of becoming a NASCAR driver.
  • Be open to different pathways and opportunities in motorsport; internships and esports events can lead to connections and race seats.
  • Consider taking a step back and finding affordable championships when facing financial roadblocks.
  • Network actively to expand connections in the motorsport industry.
  • Learn extensively about NASCAR cars and mechanics to enhance performance and communication with mechanics.
  • Starting racing at a young age is advantageous, but it’s never too late to begin; parental support plays a role.
  • Also playing NASCAR Video Games is an good methods to get the basic idea.


Becoming a NASCAR driver is a challenging but rewarding journey. It requires a combination of skill, determination, and a passion for the sport. Start by developing your racing skills, pursuing formal training, and building a strong support network.

Seek sponsorship, obtain a racing license, and consider joining a racing team to enhance your chances of success. Gain experience, focus on fitness and mental conditioning, and market yourself effectively. Embrace calculated risks, persist through challenges, and seize every opportunity that comes your way.

Remember, the road to becoming a NASCAR driver is a thrilling ride, and with dedication and perseverance, you can turn your dream into a reality.

  1. What age do you need to be to become a NASCAR driver?

    The minimum age to compete in NASCAR varies depending on the racing series. Generally, drivers must be at least 18 years old for national series like the NASCAR Cup Series, while younger drivers can participate in lower-level series.

  2. Do I need a professional racing background to become a NASCAR driver?

    While a professional racing background can be beneficial, it is not a strict requirement. Many successful NASCAR drivers started with grassroots racing and worked their way up through talent and dedication.

  3. How can I find racing schools to develop my skills?

    Research reputable racing schools in your area or in locations known for motorsport training. Read reviews, check their curriculum, and consider reaching out to former students or racing professionals for recommendations.

  4. Is it necessary to relocate to a racing hub to pursue a career in NASCAR?

    While proximity to racing hubs can provide more opportunities and resources, it is not always necessary to relocate. Many drivers have started their careers from various locations, and with dedication and persistence, you can make progress from anywhere.

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