How I Got Here with Johnny Gibson

Each week, I ask a member of the racing community to shed some light on his or her career path. Up next: Johnny Gibson, the voice of the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series. This interview was recorded as a podcast but is also transcribed for those who prefer to read.

What do your duties entail as part of your current job?

Basically, I am the series announcer. My job is to provide information and help the fans at the racetrack understand and enjoy what they’re seeing and to describe everything to the people watching and listening at home on DIRTVision.

How did this all start for you? Did you grow up as a race fan, did you grow up wanting to be an announcer?

Grew up as a race fan, never had any thoughts or really any real ideas of being an announcer. Started going to races very young in Pennsylvania with my dad, met people involved in racing just from being around as a fan. Met more people through the people I met originally, and one thing led to another and I started going to World of Outlaws races and helping them sell programs.

There was a gentleman named Bill Woodside who was selling the programs at all of the Outlaw races. I moved from Pennsylvania to Indianapolis in 1994 and started going to the Outlaw races to help Bill sell programs. I had met him through Kevin Eckert, who I had met as a race fan. Started walking through the stands (saying), “Hey, get your program here.” It was a way to get into the races for free, maybe make a couple of bucks.

I went to help him at a race at I-96 Speedway in Michigan on the Monday after the King’s Royal in 1995, so that would have been July, and Bill wasn’t there. And the Outlaw merchandise people said, “Hey, can you sell programs tonight? We haven’t heard from Bill, we don’t know what’s going on. Can you do the whole thing tonight?” Sure, I can do that.

By the end of the night, they said, “We still don’t know what’s going on with Bill. We race Wednesday in Memphis, Houston on Friday, and Devil’s Bowl Speedway on Saturday. Can you come and do those races for us?”

I really didn’t have anything pressing going on at the time. Let me back up just a second. At that point, I was a musician. I was playing in rock bands and working like a series of day jobs that were pretty much dispensable. If I had a gig come up and had to leave a day job and worry about the next one when I came back, that’s what I did.

What were you playing in the band?

I played drums. And actually at that time I wasn’t in a band. I had played in bands in Pennsylvania and moved to Indy with the idea of just a change in scenery and getting in a different band there. And while that was sort of in the process of happening, the Outlaw thing sort of happened.

So I decided to go to Memphis and Houston and Dallas to do those races and by the end of the night, that Friday at Houston, they said, “Bill has definitely resigned. Do you want to do the program gig from now on?” And so basically I’d be traveling with the World of Outlaws full-time selling programs. Thought about it for about a half a second and said, “Sure.”

So I did that for the remainder of ’95 and for all of the 1996 season. Back in ’95 and ’96, World of Outlaws was televised on TNN. So when I was done selling programs, I’d go work for the production company and maybe be a spotter for a cameraman or be a runner or whatever. That’s how I met Bobby Gerould, who was doing the pit reporting at the TNN races, and Bobby was doing a lot of PA announcing in California.

So in September of ’96, we raced at Kings Speedway in Hanford, California, and Bobby came up to me before the races. He was on the mic that night, and said, “When you’re done selling programs, come up to the booth. I’d like to do an interview with you about what it’s like being on the road with the World of Outlaws and seeing all the races.”

So I went up to the booth and talked to Bobby for a little bit. One of the things that Bobby had learned about me, just from being around me, is that I had taken notes on the races from the time I was a really little kid. I had just always done that as a way of keeping up with what happened and keeping a little bit of a record of where I’ve been and what I’ve done.

So in the process of this interview, Bobby says, “You take notes on all these races, you know these guys, you know the sport — have you ever thought about being an announcer?” And I said, “Not really.” And Bobby hands me the microphone and says, “The first heat race is coming up. Give it a shot.”

Really? Just like that?

Just like that. I had never ever called a race, never done any announcing, nothing at all like that before. So I did the one heat race, and Carlton Reimers, who was still the series director for World of Outlaws, was at the race that night. He went back and talked to Ted Johnson, the founder and president of the Outlaws, and they decided to make me the announcer.

Ted called me into the office three weeks later and said, “We’re going to do something different next year” — which at the time I thought meant, “I guess I have to go get a real job.” Until he said, “You’re going to be our announcer.”

The Outlaws didn’t have a full-time announcer at that point, they just used the track announcers wherever they went. And a big part of the reason for me being hired full-time had nothing to do with my ability to call a race or anything like that, it was solely for the purpose for making sure the sponsor reads got done at every racetrack. They have a list of a series sponsors and all of their PA stuff, and sometimes the local announcer wouldn’t take care of the sponsors the way that the Outlaws wanted them to. And so my original reason for hiring was just to make sure all the sponsor stuff got taken care of.

It seems like you’re a total natural. Is it something that you have honed and perfected over that time?

Sure. I mean, it’s been 22 years now, so I’ve kind of developed as I’ve gone along. The biggest thing was when Ted told me that I was going to be the announcer starting next year, I spent a lot of time that winter watching the videos that Greg Stephens of Motorsport Video put together with the sound turned down and trying to call the race and trying to learn.

But looking back on it now, it is nearly unfathomable to me that a major series like the World of Outlaws took a chance on somebody who had never done any broadcasting or anything like that.

Again, it was kind of a gradual process where in that first year, there were some nights I did all the announcing, there were some nights where the local announcers still called the races and I just did the sponsor reads. It took a while to develop it to where it is now.

The other thing is for having no experience in that first year, I had gotten for what most local announcers be five or six years of experience because we were racing 100 nights. So I was on the mic 100 nights, where a local announcer might do 20 a year if they’re lucky. So I got a ton of experience right off the bat.

If there’s somebody out there who’s like, “Gosh, I would love to do that someday,” where would you recommend if people wanted to get started, doing some announcing?

Basically, I would say go talk to your local racetrack and see if they have an announcer, if they’re looking for someone else, if they know any other tracks that are. It might not be a bad idea, especially with the technology available today, to put together a bit of an audition tape, run a race video and record yourself calling the race over top of it. Just get your name known. Even if it’s not announcing yet, offer to come and volunteer at the track or work picking up trash or something like that. Be around. That’s what happened to me. I was in the right place at the right time.

I feel like you have such a natural voice, too — you have a booming announcer voice. Did you have that when you were selling programs as well?

Probably. I think that’s something that came from it, just being out there and being, “Hey, get your program here!” It’s not a whole lot of difference.

I even saw this video recently where Kyle Larson had Owen playing with his cars, and he’s imitating you. That’s got to feel kind of cool.

It is. It seems so surreal at time. This is just me and what I do, and it doesn’t really strike me that people recognize it. I don’t know. I don’t feel like I do anything special. I’m just the luckiest race fan in the world. I get to see the best sprint car drivers night after night and I get to talk about it.

What it is that you love so much about this where once you got in this role, you thought, “This is it. This is what I want to do.” I’m sure there other things you could have done and I’m sure you’ve been approached by other people over the years. But it seems like you really love this.

It is. Other career paths may have been an option. I definitely have been contacted by other forms of motorsports. But this is where my passion is. This is what I love. I’m not a NASCAR person. I couldn’t tell you who the NASCAR champion last year was. I don’t really watch it. I understand people love it and that’s fine for them — I’ve been to NASCAR races, it just doesn’t thrill me like the sprint cars do.

I think if anything, what I bring to the announcing is my passion for sprint car racing, and I think if I tried to do anything else, that passion wouldn’t be there. And in the very worst care scenario, I’d be faking it. I don’t ever want to be accused of that.

Part of this genuine enthusiasm, as I mentioned, it’s not a World of Outlaws race if you’re not doing the famous four-wide salute phrasing. How long have you been saying that same catchphrase before these races?

I honestly don’t know. Again, it evolved over the first couple of years. I’d say probably by the end of the second or sometime during my third season is when I kind of started to coalesce what I do for the four wide, and then I’ve added little bits and pieces here and there. I will admit that the “often imitated, never duplicated” part of it came during 2006 when the NST was a rival sanctioning organization, so it was kind of a little dig at them.

You were trolling them!

Exactly! Before anybody knew what trolling really was. (Laughs)

My other question would be, because you are having to react so quickly to things that are in front of you, you’re having to see things with your brain, process them and then have it come out in an announcer way. Have you ever messed up really big?

Oh, absolutely. I mean, any announcer will, especially in a high-speed environment like this. I say this probably in more of a joking way than I should, but I probably have the only job where having a bit of ADD kind of helps because I do process things rather quickly, I talk quickly and this is just my normal way of talking. It’s not just the way I call races. If you talk to me on a Thursday afternoon away from the racetrack, I still probably talk like this.

But I just kind of have this ability to look at something, decide what I’m going to say about it while looking for the next thing that I’m going to talk about. And again, maybe it’s just the fact that I have grown up around sprint car racing and I’ve gotten used to watching races in a certain way.

Can you close by telling us something about your life? Because I think that your life on the road constantly, you don’t really get to go home much…

Actually, my home is now parked on the outside of Turn 2 here. I lived in Minneapolis for four years most recently and then decided to get a nice motorhome and live in the motorhome year round. The last apartment I had in Minneapolis, I was home 89 nights that year. So it didn’t really make sense.

I was in the process of moving, I was going to look for a different apartment, and I found a really cool place right in downtown Minneapolis, walking distance to the Target Center and all that kind of stuff. And I started to think about the money I was going to pay for it and the amount of time I would be there and I thought, “You know, for that kind of money, I can actually put that toward a really nice motorhome and be able to have home with me all the time.” And I wish I would have done it 20 years ago. I really enjoy that. That’s made it new and fresh for me again after 20 years of traveling up and down the road with a little variation, but for the most part seeing the same places and the same thing year after year.

And that’s why it’s really cool to go and do things with people who are maybe out on the road for the first time and see things through their eyes, they see something you’ve seen year after year and don’t really recognize anymore, but to somebody with fresh eyes they’re like, “Oh this is so cool!” Then you remember, “That is pretty cool. I just kind of take it for granted now.”

But as far as about my life, again, I am just the luckiest race fan in the world. I get to go to races and talk about it, and drive down the road and go do it again.

12 Questions with Rico Abreu (2018)

Rico Abreu at Eldora. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

The 12 Questions series of interviews continues this week with sprint car driver Rico Abreu, who won the Gold Cup earlier this month in Chico, Calif. These interviews are recorded as a podcast but also transcribed for those who prefer to read.

1. How often do you have dreams about racing?

Usually if I’m thinking about a race or if I’m leading up to a big race, obviously I’ll be thinking about it all the time and I’ll have some dreams about it. But I think the biggest thing is I’m around race cars all the time and here working on the sprint cars. So it’s basically my life and it’s all I think about.

The biggest thing is just the work ethic that we all put into this team. I have had some dreams where things go wrong and then some dreams where things go good. Sometimes when I have good dreams, big dreams, I’ll jot them down or I’ll remember them three or four days later.

But I haven’t had any serious dreams about racing, just a few here and there of my car. Maybe just sometimes I’ll think about the attitude of my car and how it feels when I’m on track and that’ll come into a dream one time. But I’ve never really thought about that.

2. If you get into someone during a race — intentional or not — does it matter if you apologize? I assume no one would really get into another person intentionally in sprint cars because that would pretty dangerous. But if you do have an incident with somebody, does it matter if you apologize to them later?

I think it does later on. If you run into somebody or crash with somebody and they’re upset with you — or if they’re not — I think it just shows the level of respect if you go down there and apologize even if it wasn’t your fault. Sometimes people think things are different than you think.

I had an incident with Sheldon Haudenschild a couple weeks ago where I ran into the side of him and took us both out of the race. I think it was more of a racing incident, but I just made sure that the water was cool when I walked over there — more so even if everyone was angry, it just shows a level of respect if I go on over and say, “Hey, I didn’t obviously do this on purpose, but I took you guys out.”

3. What is the biggest compliment someone could give you?

I think it goes a long ways when people that you don’t think pay attention to your racing or what you’ve got going on in your career — when things start to change and your career can kind of go in a different direction and like it looks like it’s going downhill based off results — when people reach out to you and just show they see what’s going on and understand how difficult things can get. People who’ve reached out who you don’t realize that are paying attention to your career or racing and say, “Hey, keep working hard,” or, “Good job,” or anything on that level.

Or winning a race, I feel like your true friends or your true fans who are close to me reach out and said, “Good job,” just because of the people, they know the work that gets put into this and how difficult it is. Even in any level of racing, when you run a race team at a high level and you win or you run good or you’re competitive every night, people pay attention to that, and I like reaching out to people that I see that put a lot of work in or have a lot of drive and passion for the sport and have success. I like to reach out to them and say, “Hey, that’s really cool that you won,” or “You had a great run.” I just think it means a lot to those people, it means a lot when I get a message like that.

I won earlier in the year, and a guy like Chip Ganassi, he reached out. I don’t know if he follows my path lately just because of the direction it’s been going which is not NASCAR-related, but he’s seen I won and he reached out and said, “Good job” and that he likes winners. So I just have something like that with Chip, or Tony (Stewart) reaches out all the time even though my relationship with him is where I see him so often, but he still takes the time to reach out.

So when Chip reached out to you, he reminded you, “I like winners” just like he says on Twitter?

Yeah, he just said, “Good job” and “I like winners,” which is really cool.

4. The World of Outlaws 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 it’ll be really cool to bring LeBron or Steph Curry or someone who’s a real spotlight in the world right now just to kind of show them what our sport is. I think some of them have been kind of NASCAR racing and seen that side of it, but more of the grassroots stuff (is) no different from them going back and playing high school basketball or playing with the high school they went to or just shooting some hoops. It would be cool for a guy like that to come in and just kind of see how it all goes.

5. In an effort to show this is a health-conscious sport, the World of Outlaws decides to offer the pole for an A-main for an upcoming race to the first driver willing to go vegan for one month. Would you do it?

I don’t know. I don’t think so.

No? You like your meat?

Yeah, I do way too much. (Laughs)

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 2015 Dover K&N East race.

I finished second…no, third.


Yes. And one of the Rev Racing cars won. I don’t remember.

Collin Cabre.

I think he was in a Rev Racing car.

He was. See, you remembered this right away.

Yeah, so the first half of the race, the Butler Built seats have the head inserts inside of the head restraint, and it actually fell off. In the East race, there is split, so I think you do, I don’t know if you do 100 laps, if you do 50-50, or if it’s 50 laps. So I ran the first half and then you get a five-minute break. Well one of HScott/Justin Marks team (crewmen), they jumped in the car and like tied or taped my headrest on my seat. And then I ended up running second in the race. I was actually really good. Mardy Lindley was my crew chief. That was a fun year in stock car racing for me.

I was looking at some of the people who you beat in that race who are current NASCAR drivers.

William Byron.

Yeah, Byron, Landon Cassill, Corey LaJoie, Justin Haley, Kaz Grala. You were on it.

Yeah, I feel like that’s one of the tracks that really suited my driving style while I was in stock cars. Just the high banking, the fast rolling corners, it kind of raced more like a dirt track where you, a lot of on throttle time. I really enjoyed that race.

7. Who is the best rapper alive? Are you into rap at all?

I don’t really listen to much. I know Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, those are all old music I used to listen to. I listen to a lot of country and a lot of rock and roll.

8. Who has the most punchable face in the World of Outlaws?

I don’t know…Donny Schatz? He just wins everything.

He wins too much.

Yeah. (Laughs)

9. The World of Outlaws 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 team owner and one to be your motorhome driver.

Definitely LeBron the team owner, I feel like just because of his positioning and how he’s built his team and how he won all those championships in Cleveland, or went to the Finals so many times in Cleveland. I’ll put Tom Hanks as the crew chief and Taylor Swift as the bus driver because she’s probably a good cook.

10. What is the key to finding the best pre-race bathroom?

I honestly go down to all the haulers, look at the nicest hauler, and ask the guys if they have a bathroom and ask them if I can use it. I go to Donny Schatz’s trailer a lot and I go to Jason Sides’ trailer.

So you just walk in and it’s like family and you just ask, “Hey, can I use the bathroom?”

Yeah, I just ask and make sure. It’s a big topic around here because sometimes the bathrooms at the racetracks aren’t too nice and no one likes going into a hot port-a-potty at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. But I go to Donny Schatz’s trailer, I’ll ask Scuba, the car chief, if the bathroom’s OK to use and Scuba will say yes or no; and if he says no then I’ll go down to Jason Sides’ trailer, who usually tells me yes.

11. The World of Outlaws 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 don’t know. I don’t know if it’s more about the money than getting hurt. I’ve seen videos of Tyler Walker doing backflips after he won and then Carl Edwards. There’s a video of Tyler Walker tearing his ACL or something on YouTube when he does a backflip at Grandview Speedway.


I just don’t know if I could really get the flip, all the motion all the way over, or you see those videos on Barstool where the guys do the flips and land halfway on their neck. So it doesn’t look too comfortable.

12. Each week, I ask a driver to give me a question for the next interview. Last week was Will Power. His question for you was: Would you ever like to try an IndyCar, and if so, would you like to try it on an oval or a road course?

I definitely would love to run an IndyCar someday. My goals going into my whole racing (career) — if I had to put goals at the top that people dream of doing — it was always to run the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500. So I definitely would like to run in an IndyCar on an oval. I think they put on some great racing.

I would like to run the Daytona 500 as well, which I thought was going in that direction, but things shifted and things change through people’s career paths. I still haven’t given up on all that (with NASCAR), I just feel like there’s a better time later on down the road. I don’t know. I think, I definitely, if I’m going to do an IndyCar race, it’ll be on an oval.

I don’t know who the next interview is going to be with, but it’s going to be with a NASCAR driver. Do you have a question I might be able to ask somebody in NASCAR?

Ask them what they see most about drivers giving back to grassroots racing, as in Kyle Larson coming sprint car racing. Yes he loves it, but how he handles justifying coming to sprint car racing, going through that transition, and it makes it all work of going back and forth back and forth, and why some guys don’t do it more. Why Kyle Busch doesn’t go run more Late Model races or why does Christopher Bell not come and run more sprint car races?

I know that some of them are limited, but why are they so limited to it? Why doesn’t Chip Ganassi let Kyle Larson race on Thursdays before a Cup weekend? Yes, I see the money they have invested in him, but I just feel like the more of those guys that race, the better they are on track. I feel like we’re dirt racers, we’re all used to being up until 2 a.m. and the next day, getting up at 11 o’clock and going to your next race.

That’s the biggest talk right now, is these drivers coming back to the grassroots. I feel like there wasn’t as much as it until you had Kyle and Christopher and Tony doing all of these races. And you know, I feel like they have such big fan bases in this market or this sanctioning body, the World of Outlaws or any just local races, they could draw so much out of this. And why wouldn’t their sponsors want to be a part of this sport as well? They get so much more, coming here and being attached to them. I don’t know. It’s all cool to see it all going on.

This is the first 12 Questions interview with Rico Abreu.

12 Questions with Brad Sweet (2018)

Brad Sweet celebrates after winning the 2018 Knoxville Nationals on Saturday night in Iowa. (Photo: Paul Arch)

The 12 Questions series of driver interviews continues with Brad Sweet, the Kasey Kahne Racing sprint car driver who just won the 2018 Knoxville Nationals last weekend. This interview was recorded as a podcast but is also transcribed below for those who prefer to read.

1. How often do you have dreams about racing?

I probably dream about racing a few times a year — but I live, eat and breathe it while I’m awake. So luckily, I don’t have to dream about it too much while I’m sleeping.

You do what, 90 races per year?

Yeah, we usually have about 95 races on our schedule. And we don’t get to go home all that often because there are a lot of midweek races — Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays. So we pretty much live, eat and breathe racing from February to November.

2. If you get into someone during a race — intentional or not — does it matter if you apologize? I realize there would be a lot higher consequences for that in a sprint car race than a NASCAR race.

Yeah. Obviously, when we get into each other, a lot bigger crashes happen. Our cars are open-wheel, so usually it’s very unintentional, because if you get into someone, it can hurt you just as bad as you can hurt them. We don’t really have the bump-and-runs because your front tires are exposed and your rear tires are exposed, so if they touch tires, usually you both go crashing.

But there are times you make move and wipe someone’s front end out or something. And then it just depends. If they race you like that, a lot of times you might get them back. It’s just the way it is. Then there’s other times where it was a complete accident and you really want them to know it was an accident, because we race against each other so much, you don’t want any grudges happening throughout the season.

Is the World of Outlaws community tight-knit like the NASCAR community is with the motorhome lot?

Absolutely. Just as tight; there’s certain guys who are probably even tighter, just because we do travel so much. The drivers are literally the motorhome drivers and set up the T-shirt trailers. We all help each other get down the road. And then all the teams work together to get up and down the road.

It turns into a family. You see these people out here just as much or more as you see your family members back at home. There’s friendships that are closer than others, but for the most part, everyone gets along really well and you can almost count on a lot of people to help you out throughout the season.

3. What is the biggest compliment someone could give you?

That’s tough. I would say the biggest compliment in my life right now would be I’m a good dad and a good husband and a good person.

4. The World of Outlaws 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’m kind of a big The Rock fan — Dwayne Johnson. I got really into him after watching Ballers on HBO. I feel like he’d be super into it. He’s that type of guy who just embraces everything. Plus I’d love to ask him questions. He just seems like he really understands how this world works and knows how to do a great job. He works hard at what he does. I admire him a lot.

5. In an effort to show this is a health-conscious sport, the World of Outlaws decides to offer the pole for an A-Main at an upcoming race to the first driver willing to go vegan for one month. Would you do it?

I guess it would depend on the race a little bit. If it was the Knoxville Nationals, probably. Because I’d probably need to lose a little weight before we get there anyway and get in good shape.

There are some races I would do it for — our big three races are the Knoxville Nationals, the Kings Royal (at Eldora Speedway) and the National Open (at Williams Grove Speedway). If it was just one of our standard races, probably not.

Well, you got the pole for the Knoxville Nationals without having to go vegan for a month anyway, so…

Yeah. We’re in good shape and I didn’t have to go vegan, so I’m pretty happy about that.

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 2013 Texas fall Xfinity race. Do you happen to remember that one at all?

I’m going to say I finished 10th.

You finished eighth in this race. Started ninth, led seven laps. Matt Kenseth won.

Yeah, I remember getting a top-10. I couldn’t remember where I finished. I had a couple good runs, but not as many as I’d like to.

When you look back on your NASCAR career, would you have done anything differently?

I’m super happy with where I’m at now, but there were a couple years where I really beat myself up because those opportunities just don’t come around. I had a great opportunity to do good. I wish I would have just gotten to learn a little more in a stock car before getting thrown into Trucks and Xfinity.

I did two half-seasons in Xfinity. So basically I felt like the second half of what would have been my first full season, I started to kind of figure it out. I feel like if I could have gone and done one full season, it would have been a completely different story.

But looking back on it, now I’m actually just really happy where I’m at and I don’t actually miss it — at all. So I’m in a really happy place in my life and I think a lot of that would have been different if I had been successful in NASCAR. That’s just how life works, I guess.

I just wish I would have gotten more training, basically. I don’t have that Kyle Larson or maybe Chris Bell natural ability — I’ve always had to work harder at doing it. But I always feel like once I get something and work at it, I can run just as good as anybody.

7. Who is the best rapper alive?

Best rapper? Oh man. I’m really not into rap music very much. Me and Kyle Larson always listen to Afroman and he seems pretty good. But I’m sure he’s not the best rapper alive. (Laughs)

8. Who has the most punchable face in the World of Outlaws?

I mean, I like Donny Schatz, but damn he makes me mad sometimes. (Laughs) So Donny Schatz.

It seems like a lot of fans boo him because he wins so much — not because they dislike his personality. Is that right?

Yeah, he doesn’t have the Kyle Busch personality. He has somewhat of a nice personality. But he wins, you know? And everybody always cheers for the underdogs because they get tired of seeing certain people win. That’s half of why people don’t like Kyle Busch, and it’s the same with Donny Schatz — they just want someone else to win. That’s in any sport. They always don’t like the winning team; we always cheer the underdog.

Luckily, I’m kind of considered the underdog over here just because Donny Schatz has won so much. So I actually get a lot of people saying, “Please beat Donny, please beat Donny.” I get that night in and night out. “Anybody but Donny. Please.” We’re always trying, so it gives the fans a little extra to get excited about.

9. The World of Outlaws 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 team owner and one to be your motorhome driver.

Man, that’s tough. I think LeBron James will probably be my crew chief. He seems to think about how things really work. He might not be the most mechanically inclined guy, but if we could explain it to him, I think he could really get it.

Taylor Swift, we’ll go ahead and make her the team owner. She seems like she’d be good at that.

And then we’ll have Tom Hanks be the bus driver because he’d be fun. He’d be a good guy to make jokes and probably have a couple drinks with.

10. What is the key to finding the best pre-race bathroom?

Luckily for us, we have our trucks and trailers a lot with us and we basically pit out of there. We don’t have to go out like in NASCAR onto the grid and do the whole deal. So we have a bathroom right here in our trailer that’s pretty much money in the bank.

But actually this week here at Knoxville, we don’t have the bathroom (because the trailers are parked outside the track). So I don’t know. I have a hard time with public restrooms, but when you gotta go, you gotta go. Here you just go to the closest one, because there’s really no special one. When I was in NASCAR, I remember there were always some special hidden gems along the way. I know you don’t want to get any bad ones. 

11. The World of Outlaws noticed the highlight reel value brought by Carl Edwards’ backflips when he was in NASCAR and wants a sprint car version. How much money would they have to offer for you to backflip off your car following your next win?

(Laughs) If I could do a backflip, I would probably do it for free because that’s cool. But they’d just have to pay for the training, and there’d be a lot of training because I don’t think I’m anywhere close to being able to do a backflip.

It would be hard to do it off the wing, too.

You’d almost have to do a double backflip because you’d be so high in the air. It’d be a lot more dangerous. Maybe off the front tire. You could maybe stand up there and do a backflip. That’d maybe be a little lower than where Carl did it off the door, but not that much lower. But you’d have to pay me a lot, because I feel like I’d hurt myself in a hurry for sure.

12. Each week, I ask a driver to give me a question for the next interview. Last week was Garrett Smithley from the Xfinity Series. His question is: What was the first time you ever got into a 410 sprint car, what was that feeling like and how long did it take you to get up to speed?

That’s a good question. The first time I got in a 410 sprint car was 2005. (Editor’s note: World of Outlaws sprint cars have 410 cubic inch engines and are referred to as “410s.” Other series run 360ci engines and are called 360s.) I’d driven 360 sprint cars, so that was a good transition from go-karts. I remember the first time I got in a 410, I could not control it. I couldn’t believe the amount of power it had. It’s definitely taken years to be able to figure out how to control that type of power. It’s an unbelievable amount of horsepower for how light the race cars are. I remember just being blown away. And still to this day, it blows me away how fast and how much power we really have.

Do you have a question I can ask someone back in the NASCAR garage?

If they’ve never driven a dirt car, what dirt car would they choose to drive and what racetrack?

So like in terms of a sprint car or a modified or something like that?

Yeah, just see what their interest is. If they only grew up on pavement, do they have interest in driving on dirt? To some NASCAR guys, it seems like sprint cars are kind of voodoo — like, “Man, those are just dangerous.” So is it a dirt Late Model maybe? Or do they want to try it? I’d just like to see what their interest in dirt racing is.

This is the first 12 Questions interview with Brad Sweet.