The 12 Questions series of interviews continues this week with Clint Bowyer of Stewart-Haas Racing. This interview is recommended as a podcast, but is also transcribed for those who would rather read.
1. How often do you have dreams about racing?
I don’t really dream, Jeff. Helluva question.
Really? You just sail right through the night?
I can’t even remember my dreams. Don’t you ever wake up, and you’re like, “What the hell happened?”
Yeah, but sometimes I’m interviewing you in my dream. It freaks me out.
I don’t have that, Jeff. I don’t ever dream I’m interviewing with you.
2. If you get into someone during a race — intentional or not — does it matter if you apologize?
Yes, but it means zero. You’re still going to get retaliated, and sometimes, with peers and things like that, it just depends who it is. If it’s somebody you’ve kind of had a run-in with before or you don’t get along or you don’t speak off the racetrack or something else, they don’t really know you, they don’t know that that was (unintentional).
I mean, a guy like Jamie McMurray. He’s gotten into me before and it was a situation, like that wasn’t on purpose. Pissed you off, it was a bad deal, but it didn’t mean anything to me and I knew he’d be calling and as soon as he did, I was like, “I get it. It’s all good. Shit happens.” Same goes on the flip side of that.
It just depends. If it’s a kid that’s been racing you hard and doing something stupid for four or five weeks and making it hard and over-pushing the envelope and it finally catches up to you, that’s the one that gets to you and makes you mad.
3. What is the biggest compliment someone could give you?
I think the biggest compliment now in life is, “Your kid’s a good kid” and “he was polite.” (Bowyer’s son Cash) went over to somebody’s house the other day and they’re like, “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe how polite he was.” You’re like, “Yes!” He didn’t get that from me, by the way.
But nonetheless, your pride comes from different things now. Once you have a family and kids and everything else, you know, yes — when somebody says you did a good job in the race car or something else, that’s meaningful. But when they say that about something that is your pride and joy gives you a compliment, it’s a good feeling.
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?
I think all of them. It doesn’t matter. If it’s a celebrity, it’s meaningful that they’re there, that they want to be there, that they’re choosing to be at our sport. So it’s always fun for me that we get to meet celebrities because I don’t view myself as worthy of being able to hang out with celebrities. I’ve always been starstruck and big-eyed. When you see somebody that you see on TV or grew up seeing on TV, I’m no different from anybody else. Like, “Holy shit, that’s whoever!” It still rocks you back on your heels and it’s a big deal.
If I had to pick somebody who the next celebrity would be or would blow me away, I don’t know. It would have to be somebody funny, because I like having fun in our sport, I like having fun in general. But when you are around people like that, you can kind of embrace the relationship a little bit more and show them the funny side of our sport. Get them in a car and put them in a situation and they’ll freak out or something like that. I like that aspect of celebrities and things like that.
That’s kind of a shitty answer to your question, but I’m serious, it doesn’t really matter who it is. If it’s a celebrity and they’re interested in our sport, they’re there, I want to be involved and I want to show them our sport.
5. In an effort to show this is a health-conscious sport, NASCAR decides to offer the pole for an upcoming race to the first driver willing to go vegan for one month. Would you do it?
For a pit stall? Hell no! For a win or something? I don’t even pick stalls anyway — we just complain about them.
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.
I’ll tell you right now: Fail.
This is the 2014 July New Hampshire Cup race.
No clue, buddy. Not one clue.
You finished sixth. You started eighth. You led 36 laps this race. Brad Keselowski won. So you don’t remember this race?
No. I don’t even know what car I was driving.
7. Who is the best rapper alive?
(Laughs) What? There’s no such thing. There’s literally no such thing.
I will say this, I was at the beach with my spotter Brett Griffin and his two daughters and they sang this Cardi B song in the back of the van and I had to stop the van, I was crying laughing so hard. And I don’t know if I was crying laughing so hard because of the fact it was awesome they were doing it or the fact that I knew that Brett was going to be in trouble with his wife because they are definitely getting thrown out of school because of the words in that song that they knew already at such a young age. He is definitely going to get an ass-chewing. And that’s really why I was laughing, because I knew at some point it was going to come full circle to him getting in trouble, because I know damn well they knew that song because of him, not because of his wife.
8. Who has the most punchable face in NASCAR?
God, that’s easy. Everybody knows that’s Kyle (Busch). (Laughs)
That’s terrible though. You set me up for failure there! That’s bullshit.
You acted like you knew the answer right away!
I’m going to give you 12 questions one of these days.
He’s not even the most common answer this year.
Yeah. Brad is.
It’s kind of the same face.
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.
How did you pick those three?
I’m running out of questions, here…
Your dreaming is real. This is your dream? Holy shit. Your dreams are out of control. You pick Taylor Swift, Tom Hanks, and who?
LeBron. Choose one to be your spotter, one to be your motorhome driver, and one to be —
The jack man.
No, your crew chief. You could do jack man if you want, mix it up.
I think LeBron would be big enough. You wouldn’t want Tom Hanks to be the jack guy, you know what I’m saying. Taylor Swift wouldn’t be a very good jack guy.
Well, we clearly couldn’t have Taylor Swift being the motorhome driver as a married man, because that wouldn’t last very long. One or the other wouldn’t last: You’d break down or your wife would break up.
That’s a good point.
(Laughs) So I appreciate you setting me up for failure once again on that.
But what are we gonna do with LeBron? Well Tom Hanks will be the spotter, you can understand him and he will be good. And then the crew chief, I guess LeBron’s in.
Well, you’re going to have to put Taylor there since you can’t have her as your motorhome driver. She’s going to be calling the shots.
Yeah. I don’t think LeBron could fit in the motorhome seat though, his head would be rubbing.
He might know how to grill or something cool.
Yeah, he makes enough money. All three of them make enough money that they aren’t going to drive your bus. That’s just the facts. But your dreams, I’m following along in your dreams here. They’re really screwed up, by the way.
10. What is the key to finding the best pre-race bathroom?
Ho ho! This is the key to success in motorsports. Everybody always asks, “What do you do pregame? What do you do before the race?” If you don’t do one thing before the race, you’re gonna wish you did that one thing the entire race. It’s three and a half hours out there, Jack. If you’ve got a Number Two issue on your hands for three and a half hours, you’ve got a hell of an issue on your hands. It’s a shitty situation. (Pretends to be upset with the question.) One more opportunity to set me up for failure!
11. NASCAR decides they would like the highlight reel value brought by the former Carl Edwards backflips and want their own version. How much money would they have to offer for you to backflip off your car following your next win?
I win the championship, I will do whatever you want. If you want me to do a backflip, get the pads out because I’m gonna need them. No way in hell am I gonna land on my feet.
Homestead. Done. You just bring it up and I will attempt a backflip. I probably need the roof to get the full rotation around and make sure I don’t land on my head because the door stop’s probably not enough, but I’ll go for it.
12. Each week, I ask a driver to give me a question for the next interview. Last week was Rico Abreu. He wants to know: Why don’t more Cup drivers pull like a Larson or a Kahne or a Stewart and dive back into some of these lower series, whether it’s sprint car racing or Late Models or things like that?
Rico, if he can’t be a big enough star on his own and he needs Larson to come back and bring the crowd for him, there’s enough being said. (Grins)
Here’s the thing: I do contribute to that level. I don’t race in it anymore, but I own two Dirt Late Model teams. I feel like through that connection, I am connected and I enjoy that. I enjoy short track racing and I think that’s very, very important, it’s always been a good platform for me. Partners, we’ve always built good partners at that level and even brought them to the Cup Series.
I love short track racing. I mean, if I never made it to Cup and I always raced at Lakeside Speedway in the Midwest and raced at Iowa in the (IMCA) Super Nationals that just happened, I was plenty content. Had a good time, was successful, had a lot of fun and made a lot of memories with a lot of good people. That’s plenty good enough for me.
Do you have a question I can ask the next interview?
Can you tell me who it is?
The schedule’s up in the air right now, so it’s either going to be Justin Haley from the Truck Series or Ryan Blaney.
Which I literally have nothing in common with. Like I don’t even think we speak the same language. I don’t know Fortnite like these kids do.
I don’t know. My question for the next driver is: Are they OK with me beating them? How bad does it bother them when somebody as crazy as I am is able to beat them on any given Sunday? Does it make them feel like a lesser person? Does it embarrass them? Does it keep them up at night dreaming like Jeff Gluck?
Previous 12 Questions interviews with Clint Bowyer: