This is Why NASCAR Drivers Have Longer Careers Compared to Formula 1 Drivers (2024)

No sportsperson can remain in their craft forever. Unfortunately, immortality and eternal youth are best left to fanfiction, as this is the real world. Motorsports, consisting of Formula One and NASCAR, is a particularly demanding field, even if some try to argue that sitting in a car and driving fast is not a good way of testing physical skill. That being said, as drivers grow older, their reflexes may not be as sharp as before, no matter how much they train.

Of course, it doesn’t help that drivers try to enter their respective sports as early as possible. Sure, it does wonders for the record books and ensures that the racers are in their prime from an early age. However, there are chances that they could call time on their career much earlier. On average, drivers from Formula One retire in their mid to late 30s. However, it is worth mentioning that NASCAR drivers can stretch out their careers a lot longer.

Some drivers are already bucking the trend in Formula 1


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Interestingly, in the 2020s, there are a number of sports stars who are sticking around well past their ‘retirement age’. This isn’t limited to F1 and NASCAR though, as prime examples are Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and even Valentino Rossi. Sure, the latter has finally hung up his boots, but he stuck around the MotoGP scene until he was 41 years old. Meanwhile, Messi and Ronaldo are approaching 40 and still look competitive.

Coming back to Formula One and NASCAR, we have the likes of Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard had taken a couple of sabbaticals but is currently competing in F1 again, for Aston Martin Racing. While he isn’t winning, he is still fairly competitive, especially when we look at his teammate Lance Stroll.

This is Why NASCAR Drivers Have Longer Careers Compared to Formula 1 Drivers (1)

Meanwhile, across the pond, we have the likes of Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, and Martin Truex Jr. Harvick may be retiring at the end of the season, but the other two are still going strong.

Do NASCAR drivers truly retire from racing at all?


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In all honesty, there are a few NASCAR drivers who stretch out their careers for as long as possible. Just look at Dale Earnhardt Jr, who competed in an Xfinity Series race earlier this year, and he is 49 years old.

In a recent YouTube video, Kenny Wallace claimed that NASCAR drivers are retiring too early. Wallace referenced Clint Bowyer who recently competed in Tony Stewart‘s SRX series with a best finish of 2nd.

Wallace said on his channel, “The question begs this. Why are NASCAR drivers quitting so early? I like to use the word ‘quitting’ because they’re not really retiring. They’re still racing a little bit. You see Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer, Bobby Labonte, you see these NASCAR drivers. Some of them never even announced that they were retired from NASCAR. Respond right here, show me a press release. Did Jeff Burton, Bobby Labonte, Clint Bowyer, did they announce – did they have a press conference? ‘I’m retired, I quit NASCAR’. I never saw it.”

Why do F1 drivers retire earlier than their stock car counterparts?

A large part of it has to do with the cars themselves, as driving an F1 car is much more demanding on the body. Most of the strain is on the neck and back, but if the 2023 Qatar GP is any indication, it has a toll on the whole body. Apparently, most NASCAR drivers hit their peak by the time they hit 30 or are in their mid-30s. So when it is finally time to call time on their careers, they are usually in their early to mid-40s. Compare this to F1, whose drivers peak in their mid-20s and then retire by their mid to late 3os.

In the last 15 years in NASCAR, the average age for a driver has dipped dramatically. Previously, drivers would call time on their career by the age of 38, but that has since dropped to 33. This is because fewer drivers tend to stay on in the sports by the time they are in their early 30s. As a result, several big names like Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards retired early. One reason could be the influx of younger and faster drivers challenging for victory.

READ MORE: Falling Short of Playoff Goal, Was Leaving Joe Gibbs a Good Decision for Kyle Busch?

Is the younger generation at fault for this issue?

According to ex-NASCAR driver Michael Waltrip, “It’s not that they can’t be competitive well into their 40s, some might just not have the desire anymore. When I first came in in the 1980s and 90s, guys didn’t make it to Cup until their early 30s. There were exceptions, but teams didn’t put young guys into Cup cars.”

He believes that the main issue has to do with how many years are spent on the racing circuit. Waltrip himself did not call time on his Cup Series career until the 2017 Daytona 500. During that particular race, he finished in a fine 8th place, and the kicker was that he was 53 years old at the time.

Some would even say that a few drivers hang up their boots so that they can spend more time with their families. Others could also be forcibly retired due to injury or even through a lack of sponsor funds.

WATCH THIS STORY:Kyle Busch’s Rollercoaster Ride at Talladega


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Another example of NASCAR drivers’ longevity is none other than Kyle Busch. He is currently 38 years old and has already been in the sport for 20 years. If the math is correct, then he would have made his debut at the age of 18. Considering that he is still going strong to this day, it doesn’t look like he will retire anytime soon.

Amazingly, there is a NASCAR driver called Hershel McGriff, who raced at the ripe old age of 90 years, 4 months, 21 days. This was a K&N Pro Series race at the Tucson Speedway during the 2018 season. McGriff is currently 95 years old and a 2023 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee. That 2018 K&N Pro Series race was special because McGriff set the record for the oldest driver in a NASCAR-sanctioned race.


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This is Why NASCAR Drivers Have Longer Careers Compared to Formula 1 Drivers (2024)


Do NASCAR or F1 drivers make more? ›

Do Formula 1 drivers make more money than NASCAR drivers? Yes - and they earn it. There's more to being a F1 driver than being a body in a car.

Why is NASCAR slower than F1? ›

NASCAR races have the slowest cars among these three series simply because of the weight of the vehicles, which stands at around 3,000 lbs. These stock cars featuring V-8 engines can reach top speeds of up to 200 mph, and can go from 0 to 60 mph in 3.4. seconds.

Why do F1 drivers work out so much? ›

F1 drivers need more than the regular gym regimen. They need the strength to handle the intense gravitational forces (G-force) they face and the endurance to last a nearly two-hour race in various climates. And, with few exceptions, they only get to drive the actual car during the season.

Is NASCAR more popular than F1? ›

Nascar continues to lead the way in US viewership as F1 and IndyCar plateau. Stock car racing series records fifth-straight viewership increase, compared to slight falls for open-wheel series.

Which is louder F1 or NASCAR? ›

Luckily for NASCAR fans, spectators generally only have to endure 100-dB of sound, which is equivalent to the sound of a lawnmower. NASCAR is not the loudest racing event, however. Drag Racing reaches 150 dB and Formula 1 can reach 145 dB. IndyCar racing ties NASCAR at 130 dB.

Is NASCAR or F1 more expensive? ›

Both NASCAR and F1 are undeniably expensive endeavors, but F1 stands out as the more financially demanding of the two.

Which is faster, Indy or NASCAR? ›

IndyCar speed

With an average weight that's less than 1,400 lbs. - less than half of NASCAR's stock cars - it's no wonder that they are quicker. To date, the fastest recorded speed in an IndyCar competition stands at 236 mph.

Does NASCAR or F1 take more skill? ›

Both the sport requires two different types of skills. Formula 1 drivers primarily need to focus on being the fastest car on the track while avoiding any contact. Meanwhile, the NASCAR needs their driver to be precise as they run so close, leading to many touches.

Who is the hottest Formula 1 driver? ›

Who Is the Most Attractive Formula 1 Driver?
  • 171. Charles Leclerc. ...
  • 146. Carlos Sainz Jr. ...
  • Lando Norris. British Formula 1 driver, popular among fans for his youthful energy and sense of humor. ...
  • George Russell. ...
  • Daniel Ricciardo. ...
  • Pierre Gasly. ...
  • Lewis Hamilton. ...
  • Lance Stroll.

Do F1 drivers sweat a lot? ›

Why an F1 driver's diet is so important. Racing an F1 car is exhausting: in the most extreme race, the Singapore Grand Prix where it's twice as hot as any other race, the driver will lose 3-4kg in sweat. And in any Grand Prix, the drivers' bodies are working overtime to cope with the heat and G force stress.

What do Formula 1 drivers eat? ›

Diets are generally high in fruit, vegetables, and wholegrains to promote immune function and energy release. Carbohydrates are taken in both before and after exercise, and when preparing for longer sessions or bouts in the car to aid with performance.

Has an F1 driver ever won NASCAR? ›

The only driver who I can think of who has won in both NASCAR and F1 is Mario Andretti. Andretti won Daytona in 1967 and the F1 championship in 1978, he also won the Indy 500 in 1969. Edit: Juan Pablo Montoya has also won in all three series (NASCAR, F1 and IndyCar).

Has anyone gone from F1 to NASCAR? ›

Jacques Villeneuve, pictured in 2022. Another former F1 World Champion on the list, Villeneuve achieved that honour in 1997 and raced on in Formula 1 through until 2006, after which he turned his attention to the NASCAR Cup and Truck series, also appearing multiple times in the Nationwide Series since.

Are F1 drivers the fittest? ›

F1 drivers are some of the fittest athletes on the planet. But how do they stay at the top of their powers in a physically exhausting sport and the longest season in the championship's history?

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