NASCAR drivers are just normal people with really cool jobs, but their talents and success at their jobs have resulted in lifestyles many fans can’t relate to.
The best drivers typically live in mansions, spend time on the road in million-dollar motorhomes and fly around in private jets; not so for the average race fan.
So when Kyle Larson talked a little about his recent travels on Friday at Martinsville Speedway — which included a delay on his commercial flight back from the West Coast — my ears perked up.
Larson is the NASCAR Cup Series points leader and has finished in the top two for four straight weeks — including a win at Fontana. The image of him trudging through the airport and sitting at the gate with his toddler son Owen while waiting for the airline to call his boarding zone number? That’s actually pretty cool.
“I fly commercial as much as I can and fly with the team (on charter flights),” Larson said. “That’s a lot of money to fly a private plane — especially to the West Coast. I’m cheap with my money when it comes to flying.”
He added: “And I like to rack up the miles so I can maybe get some free trips down the road.”
How great is that? I love that a star NASCAR driver actually cares about his frequent flyer status.
Larson acknowledged he’s gotten less frugal on flights as he’s gotten more successful — he now flies first class instead of coach. But that’s a relatively recent development.
“A couple years ago, (Ricky) Stenhouse and Danica (Patrick) — obviously, she’s a very wealthy person — she didn’t understand why I’d purchase a coach ticket,” Larson said. “Coach is $120 versus first class being $500 — I mean, I’m going to save that money (at the time).”
One bummer: Owen is now three months over the maximum age for holding a child on a parent’s lap (2 years old and under), so Larson has to buy an extra ticket (“Which really stinks,” he said).
Still, he finds commercial flights to be a good investment — even in comparison to flying with the Ganassi crew.
“The team plane, you have to stop and refuel (and there’s) no wifi,” he said with a smile. “Commercial is not bad.”
Of course, this won’t last forever. I remember seeing drivers like Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski on my flights to races before they started flying private. But it’s fun to think of the points leader in a “just like us!” situation for the time being.
“For the record, his days of flying commercial are just about over,” Jimmie Johnson said with a laugh.