The series of weekly driver interviews continues with Brad Keselowski of Team Penske. This is Keselowski’s eighth time doing a 12 Questions interview. The 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?
Probably three or four times a month.
That’s fairly often. Do you have nightmares? Just envision yourself driving?
A little bit of both. Sometimes it’s like I won a race. Sometimes it’s like the “I’m late to the car” thing. Or the “I don’t have any clothes on” dream, like you’re naked in the race car or at the race car. And then there’s sometimes the “Crash really hard and die” dream.
Oh! That took a dramatic turn there.
Yeah. It covers the whole spectrum.
2. If you get into someone during a race — intentional or not — does it matter if you apologize?
Eh. I don’t know. I mean, it’s racing. I feel like when you get in the car, you can expect those things are going to happen.
If you do something intentional, then yeah. You should have enough humility to accept the fact those things aren’t always necessary.
I was at Martinsville a few weeks ago and we were struggling — I had run into the back of somebody and broken the splitter. I’d been really good at Martinsville for the last few years, and we weren’t running as well as I know we were capable of. I didn’t know the reason was the splitter was damaged.
But AJ Allmendinger came up behind me and he was a little faster. I was already agitated because we weren’t running well, and then the second he caught me, he ran into the back of me. In my mind, it was like, “Dude, make a move! Don’t just run into someone.” So I was mad, and I ran into him.
A day or two later and I thought, “Man, I shouldn’t have done that. That really wasn’t cool.” So I said something to him, because I felt like I was wrong. Those scenarios are appropriate to apologize.
On the other side, if the two of you are racing and you get a little loose and run up into somebody a little bit? Nah. That’s just racing.
3. What is the biggest compliment someone could give you?
That one is pretty easy: It’s my wife or daughter when they say, “I love you.”
4. NASCAR comes to you and says, “Brad, we’re bringing a celebrity to the track and we’d love for you to host them.” Who is a celebrity you’d be really excited to host at a race?
Probably Elon Musk.
But I feel like you’d start debating about self-driving cars.
Oh, absolutely. That’s part of why it would be fun.
You’d want to pick his brain and also say, “Here’s why it’s not going to work out for you.”
Pretty much. And he might say something that makes me think about it differently. And that’s OK. That’s part of why I’d enjoy it. I would enjoy it not from the cult of celebrity perspective, I would enjoy it from the viewpoint perspective.
5. In an effort to show this is a health conscious sport, NASCAR decides to offer the No. 1 pit stall for an upcoming race to the first driver willing to go vegan for one month. Would you do it?
Yeah. I don’t think that one’s too hard. It’s achievable. It’d have to be a good race though, not one of those races where the first pit stall doesn’t mean much — like Pocono. The first pit stall at Pocono is like pbbbt. It’s not worth that much. So I would think it would be like a Martinsville or a Homestead.
No cheese, no meat, no milk…you could do all that?
Yeah. I try really hard not to drink milk now. I do a little bit of cheese; I try to avoid that, to be quite honest. If I eat cheese, it’s because it’s on something like pizza. But I could get around it.
It would be harder to me to give up bread, which I try do to that as well.
I don’t have a vegan diet right now, but I’m not far off it — other than I like steak, which is really far off it.
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 the 2015 Kansas spring race, also known as the SpongeBob SquarePants 400. Do you know where you finished?
’15 and ’16 run together for me. My guess is fifth.
It’s actually seventh. You started third, led 43 laps and Jimmie Johnson won. You finished behind Matt Kenseth and ahead of Kurt Busch. Does that ring a bell at all?
No. Not at all. I’ve had a lot of forgettable races at Kansas, and I forgot that one, clearly.
7. Who is the best rapper alive?
That’s an oxymoron, because I don’t think rap is good. There can’t be a best rapper if I don’t think it’s good.
8. Who has the most punchable face in NASCAR?
Man, this one could get me in a lot of trouble. Is this like a driver? Media member? Has anyone gone media with their answer?
Not yet. If there’s someone in the media you want to take a swing at…
This is a very violent question.
It is, but Dale Jr. came up with this question for his 12 Questions last year, and I thought it was too good to pass up.
Most punchable face…definitely not Mike Helton. Let’s go ahead and write that one off. And not Steve O’Donnell. I mean, they’re big guys. Not going to end well.
Man, I don’t know if I have an answer for this one. You have stumped me. I’m trying really hard not to be a punching guy, and you have me thinking in a different gear.
Oh! I actually do know what this is — those damn Toyota mascots.
The ones that walk around with the big heads?
Yes. Yeah. They’re very punchable. Big heads, soft — you wouldn’t hurt anybody.
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. Choose one to be your crew chief, one to be your spotter and one to be your motorhome driver.
I have to work backward from who shouldn’t do something. Taylor Swift should not be my bus driver, because that would not be good. There’d be some competition there and it’s not a good environment. That would not end well for anyone.
So that means she’d have to be spotter or crew chief, and I actually think she’d be a good crew chief. She has a very good strategy to what she does. I’ll give her credit.
I don’t think LeBron is a very good speaker, so I’m going to put him as my bus driver. Big guy, and bus drivers usually follow you around (to help with crowd control). Yeah, I like that idea.
So that leaves Tom Hanks as my spotter. And that’s perfect. Tom Hanks, we’ll go with him. He’s got one of America’s most lovable voices.
10. What is the key to finding the best pre-race bathroom?
Having a motorhome. I use the motorhome before the race.
Why don’t other drivers do that? No one has answered that way this year.
I don’t know. I guess they wait until the last minute. I can’t get inside their heads.
But having a motorhome is really important for a race car driver at this level. That’s hard to explain to people, because there’s some luxurious parts to having a motorhome. But there are also some basic necessities — traffic going to and from the races, the unforgiving schedule a race car driver has. But probably the one people don’t ever bring up is pure sanitary habits.
In the early days of my Xfinity career, before I had a motorhome, I would get sick at the racetrack almost every weekend. I’m absolutely convinced it’s from shaking hands and then eating — or from the bathrooms. Because the bathrooms at racetracks, let’s face it, are not good. So I’d get sick every race weekend. Once I started having a motorhome at the racetrack, I stopped getting sick.
That’s a big deal. You don’t want to be sick in a race car or during a race weekend; it hinders your ability to perform. So I try to use my motorhome for those things.
Not that there aren’t some luxurious things, but there are some practical applications.
What’s really interesting about NASCAR for me is in a lot of ways, it caters to having money and expensive things like that and then (also has) the blue collar (experience), camping in tents — but nothing in between. When I go to a football game or hockey game or basketball game, all the accommodations are right in the middle. There’s not a lot of rich guy accommodations at a basketball game. You could get a suite, but you’ll see a (celebrity) sitting courtside, and it’s just a normal chair. It’s not like he’s got a La-Z-Boy sofa or anything like that. He’s just closer. It’s not nicer, it’s closer.
Motorsports is set up so much differently. It’s either really blue collar or really nice and nothing in between. It’s so strange to me.
11. NASCAR misses the highlight reel value brought by Carl Edwards’ backflips and decides a replacement is needed. How much money would they have to pay you to backflip off your car after your next win?
Eh, I don’t think I’d take any money to do it. It’s not me. It’s not who I am, so I wouldn’t do it.
What if they offered you $5 billion?
Nah, it’s not me. It’s just money, Jeff.
I guess. But you could be the next Elon Musk.
Yeah, but I’d have to take it from someone else who would have the same ability. It’s not like they’d just be generating money, printing it. It’d have to come from someone else. So essentially, I’d be stealing from someone else.
OK. I guess I wouldn’t mind that, but…
I mean, what would keep the person who had that money they were going to give me from doing great things?
The fact they’re dumb enough to give you the money.
That’s free will. Who am I to interfere with that?
12. Each week, I ask a driver to give me a question for the next interview. Last week was Jimmie Johnson, and he wanted to know: Do you wear underwear beneath the fire-retardant gear worn under a firesuit?
No, because it’s not flame-resistant.
But wouldn’t that block the —
No. No, that’s not how it works. Flame retardant underwear, which I’m wearing, is meant to do a number of specific things — from wicking away sweat to being flame retardant to creating an air barrier to your skin. The whole concept is to create an air barrier. So with respect to that, if you put something in between it, in theory, you’re creating another pocket — but that pocket isn’t flame resistant, and it could light up.
I see. The more you know.
Like you should never wear a cotton T-shirt under a firesuit. And you should definitely, never ever — if you’re a racer out there reading this — wear like an Under Armour shirt.
Yes. They’re extremely flammable. If you wear one of those (workout-type) shirts underneath the race suit and it gets even a little hot, it will melt to your skin and fuse with it. So in a fire, you take what might have been first-degree burns and up them by wearing that. The worst possible situation, if you’re anywhere near fire, is to wear an Under Armour type shirt.
The next interview is Matt DiBenedetto. Do you have a question I can ask him?
Matt! You know what I was always curious about with Matt is how did he become so Reddit-popular. I’ve never understood that. Was it like a person he met that runs the page? Like how did that happen? I feel there’s a backstory there. I’m really curious about that, because every time something comes up on Reddit, it’s DiBenedetto.
Previous 12 Questions interviews with Brad Keselowski: