NASCAR driver Kurt Busch has a long list of records to his name including 775 starts in NASCAR’s top three divisions, NCS, NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) and the NASCAR RV and Gander Outdoors Truck Series (NRGOTS), plus a deep love for the sport and craft of racing. Kurt and Andy discuss how he first got behind the wheel, hsi racing philosophy, and his plans for 2021 and beyond.
Kurt grew up in a racing family and got behind the wheel at a young age. He has 22 years of professional driving experience under his belt and has marquee wins in the NASCAR All-Star race, Coca-Cola 600 (2010) the Daytona 500 (2017) and scoring a win in the 2020 NASCAR Playoffs at his hometown track, Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“I started at 16 years old. I was watching my dad race my whole life. He taught me how to race. The first time when I jumped in, I had my hat on backwards, flip flops on and I was just jamming,” Kurt said.
Kurt explains that his father’s racing philosophy was ‘don’t put yourself in a position to wreck’ and focused on making better decisions each time a driver stepped behind the wheel.
“When there was a wreck, which I did have a few early in my career, we would go back and watch the videotape and watch the moves that I made wrong,” Kurt said.
Kurt likens his dedication to racing to Kobe Bryant’s Mamba Mentality and explains some of the commonalities between elite athletes. He also recalls meeting Kobe and immediately noticing his attitude of greatness and drive for victory.
“Kobe had that champion fire, that champion desire,” Kurt said. “It’s a matter of finding the strengths and weaknesses and people looking in the mirror and admitting it to themselves. It’s a sixth sense and you have to react to it. Finding key things that will add to victory. Everybody’s got the same cake that we’re trying to raise and you just got to make it the right way. That’s how you get ahead of the competition.”
Kurt’s younger brother Kyle also got into the family sport of racing and is a two-time and NASCAR Cup Series champion. He’s also racked up 527 races run over 16 years.
“We’re not teammates, but now that’s the genuine sibling rivalry early in my career or in his when he got to the cup level, I had five years of experience. I was like, ‘he’s just a rookie and he’s just a pain in the butt, little brother.’ Then he got settled in and around 2008-10, he caught it, everything was clicking for him. He’s now the winningest driver of all the series,” Kurt said. “He has one hundred truck wins this year in Xfinity and he’s got 50 in the cup. I mean he’s got more wins in NASCAR than Richard Petty. I think I can take a little bit of credit for saying that I taught him a thing or two.”
Kurt gained notice when he supported fellow driver Bubba Wallace in his efforts to remove the Confederate flag symbol from NASCAR events. As of 2020, the Confederate flag was banned and NASCAR showed support for the Black Lives Matter movement and social justice initiatives.
“I just thought it was a decorative flag on the car. Then when I got to the South, I saw people flying the flags and started to do some research…We’ve got to move forward. I thought last year the move that NASCAR made was the right timing and the fans have respected it. I really believe everybody’s embraced it,” Kurt said.
Kurt is also a strong supporter of the VetTix Foundation which donates race tickets to military families.
“I wanted to give back to the community…they gave me motivation from within. I raced in the Indy 500 a few years ago on Memorial Day weekend, and I worked out a full, military-style bootcamp leading up to that. Seeing the veterans at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center motivated me to give back,” Kurt said.
Kurt is looking forward to continuing his racing career, someday tackling the Bathurst 1000, a 24-hour race in Australia, and working as a NASCAR commentator on Fox Sports.
“I have great health. I have a great wife and life. I’m having fun racing cars, winning this year. It’s a good battle right now. A lot of winners on our circuit and the playoffs are going to be tough this year. My contract is up at the end of this year but the teams are starting to talk to me about what I would like to do and we’ll see how it all balances out,” Kurt said.