The 12 Questions series of interviews continues this week with Paul Menard of Wood Brothers 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 an iPhone guy. Not really sure why. I had an Android probably 10 years ago. I could never figure the damn thing out. I’m a big music guy, so I went to the iPhone because I could put all my music on there and just not have to carry an iPod or anything. I think it’s a lot easier to work, too.
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?
It probably depends a lot about when it is. If you’re rushing to the car for practice or something, they better be prepared to walk and I’ll sign whatever in the time that it takes to get to the car. If it’s something like this where we’re kind of just hanging out (Editor’s note: This interview took place in the garage), I see there’s a couple kids over there, I’ll just hang out and sign for them.
NASCAR does a good job with doing the red carpet thing for driver intros and stuff to actually give you some time to actually spend a little bit of time and sign, but if it’s practice or it’s a pressure situation, you gotta keep moving.
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?
A jerk move? (Laughs)
I was trying to be polite there.
I gotcha. I’d say it’s similar. On the track, you get mad and you get over it pretty quick. On the road, you just kind of feel like bad about it because there’s so many other people that are out there. You know, soccer moms, minivan packed full of kids and somebody’s driving aggressively on the road. I never really understand that.
I’d probably get more mad on the road honestly than on the track. One little mistake’s going to wad up a couple of cars and hurt some kids and adults too. So yeah, it’s pretty dumb.
4. Has there ever been a time where you’ve had a sketchy situation with your safety equipment?
No, not really. Nowadays, you crash a car and you get new seatbelts, so everything’s brand new. Back in the day, Late Model racing and things, we had those old latch and link system of belts where you had to kind of put everything together and basically run a piece of metal through and latch it, and I’ve had those where I’ve hit them with my wrist before and it’s come off. But that’s usually just sitting in the car waiting for changes and I’ll move my hands. I’ve never had it on track, so knock on wood, I’ve been pretty lucky, I guess.
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?
Probably not. I’d hope that they wouldn’t do that, knowing that it’s glaringly illegal. But if they did, I wouldn’t want to know about it, no.
Just be like, “Whatever you gotta do?”
Just play stupid, I guess. Easier to do when you don’t know.
6. What is a food you would not recommend eating right before a race and are you speaking with personal experience with this recommendation?
A couple years ago I had some outdated yogurt before the Atlanta 500. Luckily it was a night race, so it cleared up, but I was pretty nervous. So yeah, stay away from the outdated yogurt. It was Labor Day Weekend, too, so it was like 100 degrees out. It was pretty brutal.
7. Is there life in outer space, and if so, do they race?
(Laughs) Yeah, there’s something out there. We don’t know what, but there’s definitely something out there. And if they’re smart enough to build machines, I’d say they probably do race or have fun with it somehow. That’s a really weird question. But yeah, I think there’s something out there, and they probably do race. Hell yeah.
8. What do drivers talk about when they’re standing around at driver intros before a race?
Depends who you’re talking to. Usually not racing-related stuff. You might open up with, “Hey, how’s your car?” Then you might segue into, “What did you have for dinner?” the night before or something. It’s usually very random.
9. What makes you happy right now?
Being a dad, honestly. I have two little kids at home that are growing and they change all the time. I spent all winter with both kids and I went away for a weekend in Atlanta, I got home and my daughter was different than she was when I left and picked up new things. My son, he’s walking and he’s starting to talk and they grow up really quick.
How old are they?
My daughter’s almost 5 and my son is 16 months.
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?
At my age, life’s too damn short.
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.
There’s 100 questions total that you’ve asked?
There’s actually a little bit more, but I cut some of the bad ones.
So if I do 105 you won’t know?
I wouldn’t know.
Let’s go 50.
This is actually a question you have answered before from 2011.
Let’s see if my answer matches.
How different is your personality inside the car than outside of it?
Pretty similar, I’d say. I’m pretty laid back until I get pissed off or something, then the gloves come off. But I’m pretty easygoing. You get in the race car and obviously your competitive juices start flowing and you do other things, but I’d say pretty similar.
Apparently you haven’t changed in eight years because you said back in 2011, “Probably pretty similar. I’m a pretty calm guy inside and out. I go about my daily affairs kind of the same way I go about driving the race car.”
There you go.
12. The last interview was with Hailie Deegan. Her question for you is: if you had to pick a driver to be your ride or die BFF and spend every single day with them, which driver in here would you pick?
That I’m racing against currently?
Oh man. I’d probably go with Almirola. We go way back. We’ve known each other a long time. We’re pretty good friends. He’s my ride or die. (Smiles)
The next interview I’m doing is with Corey LaJoie. Do you have a question I can ask him?
I was walking in this morning and somebody said, “Hey Corey.” So I want to know how many times he gets called “Paul.”
It must be the beard, right?
It must be.
Previous 12 Questions interviews with Paul Menard: