The 12 Questions series of interviews continues this week with Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon of Richard Childress Racing. This interview was recorded as a podcast but is also transcribed for those who prefer to read.
1. How often do you have dreams about racing?
I’ve had a couple of dreams about racing, and one in particular was about the Daytona 500. I had this dream where I looked in the rearview mirror and no one was behind me and I was coming to the checkered flag. I haven’t had those memories (about dreams) very often, but I did have that one, which is crazy. I thought about it leading up this offseason, and that was a dream and it all happened. It’s weirded me out for a while, but it’s a cool one.
I haven’t really had any more. I’ve had one or two others that I’ve brought up at just random tracks that I’ve been on. When you get to focusing on them so much and you’re on the simulator, you can see the track in your mind and your mind just never sleeps.
2. If you get into someone during a race — intentional or not — does it matter if you apologize?
I think reaching out to the person is fine if it wasn’t intentional. If you didn’t do it on purpose and it was just a mistake, you overdrove and you hit them, it’s like, “Hey man, I screwed up there. I was over my head.” And that’s a good time to let someone know.
If you did it on purpose, I think they know themselves pretty much already. And then there’s a conversation about why you did it — if it was to get back at them for something earlier or it’s just, “Hey man, I had to go. That was kind of the deal and I’m sorry for it, but you understand.”
3. What is the biggest compliment someone could give you?
I think the biggest compliment you could get is (about) the person you are. Like you know, you’re a good person. Where your morals are: “Man you get it, you understand it.” That’s a good compliment to me. I’m more proud of the person you are than the driver you are away from the track. I’m a competitor, I’m very competitive, but hopefully still the person is what shows more than the driver and what I do out on Sundays, because that really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.
4. NASCAR comes to you and says they’re bringing a celebrity to the track and they want you to host them. Who is a celebrity you’d be excited to host?
Who would be the guy I’d like to hang out with the most out of all these people? The cool thing is, I’m a huge Panthers fan, so all my Panthers buddies there, they’re awesome and real. Whoever I did ask to bring to the track, I would want them to be someone that I can just have like a friend. I want to be shell-shocked to be around them, but have them talk and hang out like it was another one of my boys, my buddies. So I’d want the relationship to be instant, whoever it was.
I don’t know why this popped into my head, but Will Smith seems like a cool person. I think that’d be pretty cool. That would be somebody I’m interested in having at the track. Seems like he’s nice, too. I watch some of his Instagram stories with his family, and he’s just him. That’s cool.
5. In an effort to show this is a health-conscious sport, NASCAR decides to offer the No. 1 pit stall selection for an upcoming race to the first driver willing to go vegan for one month. Would you do it?
Oh yeah. No problem. I do a lot of things to my diet to keep discipline, just as a person. I’ve just gotten back on it, actually I was there for awhile, just slacking. But my diet is pretty important, and it’s mostly because I’ve talked to (Christian) McCaffrey, and he got me started back on eating right and just taking care of my body. I don’t eat bread, cheese, chicken — and if I do pasta, it’s gluten-free, wheat-free. I just started that, and I’ve leaned down a little bit.
Do you feel better?
Yeah. I feel better, and some of it’s just about seeing it and not eating it, right? Like just teaching yourself you don’t have to have that to function, you know what I mean? And that’s cool because I used to eat a lot of Chick-Fil-A just because it’s convenient. Chicken’s great, but that’s something that I just kind of cut out, just to be disciplined.
6. It’s time for the Random Race Challenge. I’ve picked a random race from your career and you have to tell me where you finished.
This is gonna be tough.
I’m going back to 2016 for this one, and it’s the Michigan spring Cup race. Do you have any memory of this?
I think so. I’m hoping it is the package that we tried with the high spoiler and I was racing Matt Kenseth back and forth. I think I finished fourth in that one? Or sixth?
I have eighth here.
Eighth, OK. Is it the high spoiler package? There was one in there I was running really well, but we started in the back and we stayed out on fuel and took the lead, but eighth might be correct. Well it is correct, obviously, but I’m just wondering if it’s the high spoiler package.
It might have been the fall race. Are you good at remembering races in general?
Not really. Not really the finishing orders — I’m not good at knowing where I finish somewhere. I know the vicinity, and I can tell you the details of each race. Like if you bring it up, I can tell you what was going on during the race and what happened, but I don’t focus on the finish number usually. Unless it’s a win.
7. Who is the best rapper alive?
My era is Lil Wayne. I remember riding with one of my friends to go snowboarding every Thursday up in Boone and we would listen to Da Drought, we’d listen to that mix (tape) all the way down every day. We memorized all the lines, and it was pretty witty. I always loved that.
He just came out with The Carter V this weekend (this interview was conducted last month). Have you gotten to listen to it?
I haven’t listened to it, but I’ll be on it. Maybe tonight I’ll get on it after this race.
Because he says he’s the best rapper alive…
He is. (Sings) “Best rapper alive.”
8. Who has the most punchable face in NASCAR?
I mean, it’s gotta be Kyle (Busch). I don’t know who he got punched by in Vegas, but I just picture his face when he had the blood running down and everything. That’s why (the answer), I guess.
9. NASCAR enlists three famous Americans to be involved with your team for one race as part of a publicity push: Taylor Swift, LeBron James and Tom Hanks. Pick one to be your crew chief, one to be your spotter, and one to be your motorhome driver.
Wow, that is tough. I’ll let Taylor spot because I think a woman spotter would actually be a good thing. I’ve always kind of thought that. There’s not any I don’t think on the spotting (stand), and I think they would take a lot of the bias out and just spot and give you what they see. Because women are kind of like that. I feel like women take out bias sometimes, which is nice. And so a woman spotter I think would be a good thing. I think Taylor would do good up there.
I would get Tom Hanks to crew chief because I feel like he would make light of tough situations, but he would stay in the game.
LeBron would be the bus driver because when I was chilling, we could go shoot hoops.
10. What is the key to finding the best pre-race bathroom?
That is a tough one. It happens last second. Not gonna lie, I’m gonna give you this story because this will be entertaining for your followers.
So a couple races in a row, I was struggling to remember to go pee early enough. Like I would go to the bathroom, but I’d drink enough water during the time walking to intros and going through intros, and then I would go straight to my car.
It’s very routine. When you get done with intros, you need to go use the bathroom, then go take the pictures by the car. Well I was going to the car a couple times in a row (before the bathroom), and the pictures would start and the national anthem would start and it would kind of happen all at once.
Well, I would have to pee after the national anthem. So I was like running to find a bathroom after that. You really have to get ready (to race) at that time, it’s bang bang at that point. So I always look for a port-a-john, I try to hit it before I get to my car to get my pictures taken.
Well this time (at Bristol), I got to the car and everything happened quick. National anthem’s over and I had to pee and I was not gonna get in the car and pee during the race — because it’s hard to pee yourself when you’re strapped in. So I just actually peed myself right by the left rear tire.
I had two of my guys stand there. I was like, “I’m just gonna pee myself right now.” And I peed standing like right there with my suit on, and the suit, you could see it change color. Then I just got in the car.
Couldn’t you just pee on the tire?
Well, Bristol is 400 stories up, so I figured there’s just that one person up there zoomed in taking a picture of you getting in your car and might get a real good picture of me peeing on the left rear tire. I thought about peeing in between the wall there, but it’s just so high up there at Bristol, so I’m just like, “Screw it. Just let it rip now and it’ll all be good. It’s a long race. Sweat will kind of dissipate (the pee).” But yeah, that happened this year.
So you had to race 500 laps in your pee from the start.
Yeah, from the start. Yeah, you know it’s gonna be a long one when that happens.
11. NASCAR decides they would like the highlight reel value brought by the Carl Edwards backflips and want their own version. How much money would they have to pay you to backflip off your car following your next win?
I just don’t think I could complete the backflip, so I am going to take a risk of hurting myself. I could try it for $2 million, and it’s probably going to land in a back-flop, so I’m probably going to need surgery. Hopefully that covers it.
So $2 million plus medical.
Yeah, plus medical. There you go.
12. Each week, I ask a driver to give me a question for the next interview. Last week was with Chris Buescher. His question for you is: If you win at Charlotte again like you did in the 600, now that there’s artificial turf in the infield, will that alter your belly-slide celebration?
I’m definitely going to use the turf, that looks interesting. I wonder if it’s just gonna stick, though. Could be dangerous. Will definitely try it. All the football players are playing on turf, they get little burns. Hopefully I don’t get any turf burn or anything like that, but I’ll figure that out when it comes down to it.
It’ll still be worth it.
Yeah, for sure.
The next interview I’m doing is with Landon Cassill. Do you have a question I can ask Landon?
If someone would sponsor you to grow out your hair until it reached your knees, would you wear it that long and keep it that way for the rest of your racing career? Would you wear it to your knees until you were done racing?
So the question is the only way he’s going to get a sponsor is if he’s willing to do that, and would he do it?
Yeah. That, or even rock dreadlocks to the track, dread out his hair and just roll with it.
Previous 12 Questions interviews with Austin Dillon: