The 12 Questions series of interviews continues this week with Garrett Smithley of JD Motorsports. 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 dream a lot in general. I’m actually fascinated with dreams.
I feel like it’s a gateway into a different realm. I don’t know — we’re getting deep here. But I’ve watched a lot of YouTube videos (about dreams) and I think it’s cool. I wish I could go back and rewatch my dreams.
As for racing (dreams), I’d say 40 percent of the time. Before I was racing full time, I dreamed about it all the time. Now that I race full time, I don’t dream about it quite as much.
I have a recurring nightmare I’m not ready. I don’t have my helmet, I don’t have my stuff. I hate those dreams.
Do you think dreams mean something? Like they have messages?
I think sometimes. You can use them in your life. Different dreams have meaning, and I’ve looked some of those up — like when you dream you’re falling. I think they mean something.
2. If you get into someone during a race — intentional or not — does it matter if you apologize?
Probably. A lot of drivers say it doesn’t matter if somebody apologizes. It actually happened a few races ago — somebody got into me and ended up wrecking us. He came over and apologized.
I think deep down you say, “Oh, it doesn’t matter,” but it does matter. Because this is such a mental sport. If you’re racing that guy, you’re going to say, “Well, he apologized, so…eh.”
3. What is the biggest compliment someone could give you?
Probably that I belong. I don’t come from a racing background and I started late — when I was 15. I’ve always been told I wasn’t going to make it to this level. So when people say, “Man, you’re doing a good job. You belong here. You belong in a race car,” I think that’s a really good compliment.
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?
Can I have two answers for this? Any of the sharks from Shark Tank or Camila Cabello, because I have a crush on her.
Did you like Fifth Harmony before she left?
I didn’t know they were a thing, and then Camila Cabello did her own thing and I went back and listened. I was like, “Oh, this is Fifth Harmony. I get it. I understand.”
I used to like Ariana Grande, but now she’s like married to Pete Davidson or whatever.
That killed it for you?
Yeah. Like I don’t have a chance. They’re in love.
Well, if you’d been on Saturday Night Live, you could have had a shot.
I’m not funny like that. (Laughs)
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?
No. If it was like for a month, maybe. I could eat some Chicken Alfredo. Wait, can I eat Alfredo?
Nope. That’s creamy sauce.
Oh my gosh. No. Absolutely not. Not even for a month. Sorry.
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 2016 Michigan Xfinity race. Do you happen to remember that one at all?
I was battling with Ryan Preece. I think we beat him by one spot. Uh…21st?
Nope. This was P17.
Seventeeth? Whoa! I need to give myself more credit!
You finished right behind Ross Chastain (his teammate) and ahead of Brendan Gaughan.
Brendan had some type of issue. I just didn’t think we finished that well. Seventeenth! Wow, sweet!
7. Who is the best rapper alive?
Eminem. I’m not a huge rap fan, but yeah. Rap god.
Can I give a nod to Lil Dicky though? Because I really like Lil Dicky. I think he’s hilarious. He’s not the best, but he’s actually gotten me back into rap.
The music video for his song with Chris Brown is hilarious.
Oh yeah. “Freaky Friday.” All his stuff — “Save Dat Money,” “Pillow Talking.” “Save Dat Money” is my favorite.
I know he’s been around for a little while, but I just recently discovered him.
8. Who has the most punchable face in NASCAR?
(Laughs) How am I supposed to answer this? Well, I guess I could have another two-part answer, right?
Myself, I would want to punch somebody I could fight. Tyler Reddick is pretty short, so I could fight him.
You’d have a chance?
I feel like I’d have a chance with Reddick. I like Tyler, but I feel like we could fight. It’d be a good fight. I’m not a fighter though.
But if we’re looking at past situations, with people wanting to punch somebody, probably Brad (Keselowski), right?
It seems like he comes up a lot.
I like Brad. I wouldn’t punch Brad — he’s never made me mad. But if you look at stats-wise who has the most punchable face in NASCAR — like a Racing Reference for punches — that’d be it, right?
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.
Well, Taylor is going to be the motorhome driver. So, yeah. She’s pretty cool. She can sing me songs when I have a bad race and come back to the motorhome.
LeBron is a champion, so I feel like he’d be crew chief. Because he knows how to get it done.
And then Tom Hanks — if I could have Woody (from Toy Story) spotting for me, that would be awesome. Woody or Captain Phillips or Forrest Gump. I could be like, “This car SUCKS, LeBron! What are you doing?” And Tom could just be like, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.”
I feel like we could make a whole race Radioactive with Tom Hanks up there. Let’s do it.
10. What is the key to finding the best pre-race bathroom?
This is a problem in NASCAR. I want every track to listen to your podcast. We need drivers’ bathrooms — like three or four or five of them right where our cars are.
A lot of people don’t like port-o-potties. I like port-o-potties because they’re private, you can get away, meditate. I think Watkins Glen is one of the tough ones. Some tracks are good — you’ve got to scout them out — because right off the truck, I’m going to the bathroom. I’ve never peed in my seat. Seriously, if there aren’t port-o-potties, you have to make sure you know where you’re going before driver intros.
11. NASCAR decides they miss the highlight reel value brought by Carl Edwards’ backflips and want a replacement. How much money would they have to offer for you to backflip off your car following your next win?
They’d have to give me lessons. I can backflip off the boat into the water.
Do you make it?
I mean, yeah. So last year, Harrison Rhodes was racing with us. He has a boat out on Badin Lake. We did a lake day with me, him and Ross — team bonding. And he’s got this two-level dock, and he said, “Hey, do a gainer.” That’s where you run to the end of the dock and do backflip. So I look over the edge — I had some “courage” in my bloodstream at that point — and said, “I’m just going to do it. Screw it.” So I start running and get to the end of the dock. But instead of keeping running, I stop and then do the flip — and I back-flopped. I was so sore — my back was red for days. It was awful.
So NASCAR would have to make sure I went and did lessons, paid for the lessons and if I get hurt, pay for the medical bills. I’m good with that.
12. Each week, I ask a driver to give me a question for the next interview. Last week’s was with William Byron. His question for you was: Do you do iRacing, and how much does it help or hurt you?
I still do it. I don’t do it nearly as much as I used to. In the offseason, I’ll do it quite a bit because I’ll go crazy when I’m not in a race car.
It helps, especially for road courses — ahead of Watkins Glen, Mid-Ohio and Road America, I’ll be on there doing a whole lot of it. It doesn’t hurt. Even going to an oval, you can’t get that seat-of-your-pants feel, but you get that visual. (It helps with) coming to pit road, exiting pit road, the bumps are mapped. I don’t think iRacing has ever hurt me inside the race car.
But I will tell a funny story really quick. I ran my first Truck race in 2015 at Atlanta with Mittler Brothers. The way I have my wheel mapped (in the game), I have paddle shifters to look left or right. I was going down the backstretch (in real life), and I looked right, but I went to hit my paddle to look right. (Laughs) Because to that point, I had only ever done NASCAR on iRacing. I looked, but I instinctively went to hit a paddle. I’m like, “I’m an idiot! Why did I just do that?”
I hope people don’t make fun of me for that.
Do you have a question I might be able to ask for the next interview? It will be with a sprint car driver.
What was the first time they ever got into a 410 sprint car and how long did it take them to get up to speed?
Brad Sweet answered Smithley’s question in his 12 Questions interview, which you can read here.
Previous 12 Questions interviews with Garrett Smithley: