The 12 Questions series of interviews continues this week with Corey LaJoie of Go Fas Racing. This interview was recorded as a podcast but is also transcribed for those who prefer to read.
1. Are you an iPhone person or an Android person, and why?
I’m a normal human being, so I’m an iPhone person.
That makes you a normal human being?
Yeah. Are you an iPhone person?
I am an iPhone person. Actually, you continue the streak. Not one driver so far has said Android.
Yeah, I wouldn’t know how to operate it. I wouldn’t even know how to turn one on.
2. If a fan meets you in the garage, they might only have a brief moment with you. So between an autograph, a selfie or quick comment, what is your advice on the best way to maximize that interaction?
I think the selfie is the best way to go. Like have the camera ready, and, “Hey, can I take a selfie?” “Yeah sure!” Snap. There it is.
A lot of people don’t even know what my name is anyway, so if you can call my name out and it’s not “Paul Menard” — because I get that about five times a weekend. If you can call Corey LaJoie and “Hey, can I have a selfie?” that’s automatic brownie points in my book.
So people see a firesuit and they’re like, “You must be somebody!”
“Paul Menard!” I say, “Yeah, I wish.”
3. When someone pulls a jerk move on the road when you’re driving down the highway, does that feeling compare at all to when someone pulls a jerk move on the track?
No. I get way more mad when somebody pulls a jerk move on the road than on the track because on the track you expect it, right? You’re racing. But on the road when somebody does something stupid, it can put other people’s lives in danger, right? So that gets me way more fired up.
But I’m a little more tame in my older age now. I’m not one to honk, I’m just one to get really close or put you in the median or really use my car as a weapon sometimes. But I’ve toned that down a little bit.
4. Has there ever been a time where you’ve had a sketchy situation with your safety equipment?
Not that I can recall. My dad would get pretty mad at me if I did (Randy LaJoie’s Joie of Seating builds race car seats). There’s been times where I’ve raced a Super Late Model or something without a HANS device, and you just figure either “Ah, I forgot it,” or “I’m not going that fast.” So there might have been a couple of times when I raced without a HANS device.
But for the most part, my dad would get pretty pissed off if I didn’t have all my stuff in order and I got hurt, because it would look bad for the business obviously. So in that regard, I try to stay pretty safe.
So his interest goes beyond just the seats, obviously.
Yeah, if I get hurt — even if my toe gets hurt in the race car — it’s a bad representation of the business. So I’ve got to make sure all my stuff is dialed in so if something does happen, I don’t get too terribly hurt.
5. If your crew chief put a super secret illegal part on your car that made it way faster, would you want to know about it?
I’d be interested to know what it was so I can apply it to another car, whether it’s a Super Late Model or something.
So you want to take his idea later after you race it and be like, “Oh, OK.”
Yeah. That’s what a lot of the big guys do with the risk versus reward. The reward is so much greater, because if you can run an illegal part — like spoilers for four months at a time and not get caught until the end of the year and you’ve already made the Chase and you’ve already made the final two rounds of the playoffs, then that was worth it. So I would run an illegal part because there’s everybody else in the gray area. They can tell you that they’re boxed off all they want to, but everybody’s pushing the gray area. Some guys push it a little more, some guys don’t.
Is that a misconception among fans? Because I think fans only think people are cheating when somebody gets caught. But everybody’s doing it all the time, pretty much.
The further back in the garage you get, the less bending of the rules happens because the fines versus the budgets are way, way smaller, right? On a team with a $3 million budget, a $100,000 fine is quite a bit. To a $30 million budget, a $100,000 fine is nothing. So that’s got to be taken into account.
And also, if we roll through pre-qualifying inspection and we fail the first time, we’re really worried about the next time we go through being right because we can’t afford to lose another guy. (Editor’s note: Crew members get ejected for the weekend if a car fails inspection twice). Like we’re not maxed out on our roster numbers anyways — we’re probably two shy — so when we roll through and we fail, we’re like, “Oh boy, we can’t afford to give John away for the rest of the weekend for just qualifying tech.” So we’ve got to make sure we’ve got all our stuff right when we go through.
And those (bigger teams) just have another mechanic to pull from or they’ll put the crew chief in the driver’s bus for the race. Like those guys aren’t going anywhere, right? And they have the resources where they can bend the rules and have it not be that big of a penalty.
6. What is a food you would not recommend eating right before a race and are you speaking with personal experience with this recommendation?
I would venture to say a Taco Bell run would probably not be well-advised before a race. I haven’t had that.
So don’t make a run for the border right before a race.
No, I don’t recommend that at all. I usually get Taco Bell after a race. But there’s certain things where you don’t want to be burping up something and have it just be smelling really bad. It’s not fun when your stomach is rumbling for 400 miles.
And you can smell inside the helmet?
Oh yeah. There’s not a whole lot of escape for that, so…
7. Is there life in outer space, and if so, do they race?
I don’t think so. That could get in a real deep conversation, but for the most part, I’m going to say no. I’ll leave it at that. I have other theories, but not enough time today.
8. What do drivers talk about when they’re standing around at driver intros before a race?
A lot of them talk about their kids and what they do away from the track. There’s not really a whole lot of racing talk because you’re going to get a whole lot of racing fix for the next four hours, so you don’t really want to. Sometimes there’s a little bit of talk, right? Just “How’s your car driving?” and “This happened the other day.”
But there’s going to be a little more talk this Sunday (at Phoenix, in the wake of the Daniel Suarez-Michael McDowell fight), maybe pinning different drivers against each other, maybe head-to-head fights. So see who will win what. I think there’s going to be some more conversations about that.
So after the McDowell-Suarez thing, people will be like, “Hey, do you think this guy can take this guy?”
Yeah, I think so.
9. What makes you happy right now?
My wife and just the state of my career right now, everything is going really good and I’m happy here at Go Fas Racing, bringing some fast cars to the racetrack. And just reading the Bible quite a bit, just been digging into that, it’s been really good. So I’ve got a lot of good things rolling in my life. I’m pretty content and happy where I’m at right now.
10. Let’s say a sponsor comes to you and says, “We are going to fully fund the entire rest of your racing career on the condition that you wear a clown nose and an 80’s rocker wig in every interview you do forever.” Would you accept that offer?
It depends how much I would be getting paid out of the deal because funding my career making $80,000 a year for the next 20 years is different than funding my career and me making $15 million. So if they’re funding my career and I’m making $15 million, I’ll wear a nose, hair, bell bottom pants all they want. So I haven’t had that opportunity come to my attention yet, but it would depend on what I would be making on the backhand, because every man has a price.
11. This is the 10th year of the 12 Questions. There has never been a repeat question until now. Pick a number between 1 and 100, and I’m going to pull up a random question from a past year’s series.
Let’s do 71. That was my Bandolero number back in the day.
Do you keep a mental list of people who you owe for payback?
No. You know the guys that you owe one to, but you also want to make sure that it’s right time and it’s beneficial to you. So I would like to say no because I’m not a revengeful type of person, but there are certain times where you cut guys a little bit more of a break than others sometimes just from the way they’ve raced in the past. So whether or not it’s putting somebody in the wall, that probably isn’t how I think. It’s just a matter of how hard I’m going to race somebody at what time in the race versus how they race me or did something to me weeks prior.
12. The last interview was with Paul Menard. As you mentioned earlier, he asked how often you get mistaken for him.
Four to five times a weekend.
That sounds very often.
Yeah. I wish I was Paul Menard. But I’m not, and eventually people might start mistaking Paul Menard for Corey LaJoie.
He said he was walking in the garage and somebody said, “Hey, Corey LaJoie!”
Wow! First for everything. Yeah, I’ve gotten Paul Menard for the last three to four years before everybody kind of knows I’m even here. So that’s a small improvement.
Maybe putting your face on a car has helped raised awareness.
Yes, it definitely has, no doubt. Old Spice got their money’s worth out of that. But yeah, that’s actually funny that Paul Menard got Corey LaJoie because I’ve been getting Paul Menard for several times every weekend for the last two years.
I don’t know who the next interview is going to be with. Do you have a question I can ask another driver?
I would ask somebody if they ever raced hung over, but nobody would be truthful in answering that. Unless it’d be like Clint Bowyer, then it’d be like, “Hell yeah!”
I like the fighting thing. But I think that one comes up a lot — what driver would you fight? Everybody says Ryan Newman, right? Because he’s like cornbread fed and he’s got no neck, so he can probably take a punch.
Do you think Suarez could take down Newman?
So even Newman could take down Suarez? Newman’s that indestructible?
Newman is an oak tree. You could like run into that guy, you’d bounce off.
So I think a legitimate question would be, we all didn’t consider Suarez a fighter, right? Or strong. Who is another sleeper in the garage that you probably wouldn’t want to get into a fight with? Like Chris Buescher, somebody like that.
So not the main guys you think of, not like the Newman type, but who’s a guy that’s sneaky strong, that’s going to be able to…
Kinda squirrely, like punch you in the face before it even happens. I wouldn’t even have bet Suarez. I would put Suarez on the map, but I wouldn’t have seen him yanking down Michael McDowell like a little boy. So I’m trying to visualize the garage. Maybe Kevin Harvick.
He has a wrestler background.
Because he has a wrestler background and he’s training with Cowboy (Cerrone), I’m sure he’s picked up some tips here and there to put you in an arm bar before you even knew what happened. So I probably wouldn’t mess with Harvick. I’m sure Cowboy’s taught him some things. Like say, “Hey man, show me an arm bar!” And then that’s that. I wouldn’t mess with Harvick.
Previous 12 Questions interviews with Corey LaJoie: