New England native Joey Logano grew up in Middleton, Conn. A few hours north is New Hampshire Motor Speedway, a track Logano calls home. Halfway between his home and the famous short track also known as the "Magic Mile" is New England's favorite football team, the Patriots. On Sunday, July 15, three members of the three-time Super Bowl-winning team visited NHMS for their very first NASCAR Cup race. They were guests of Joe Gibbs Racing, mainly Logano, but they still met and visited with the driver of the No. 18 Toyota, Kyle Busch.
|From left to right: Zoltan Mesko, Joey Logano,|
Nick McDonald and Ryan Wendell.
Photo Credit: Geneviev
|Mesko and Logano|
Photo Credit: Genevieve
It is ideal for drivers to be small in size because the less weight in the seat of the car means the crew can play around with equipment to create more of an aerodynamic advantage for the race. As for size and physical ability, auto racing is the only sport where women can be physically competitive with men. No matter how strong and physically fit a woman is, she will never be able to keep up with playing against men on the football field, while she can race against a man on the racetrack.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. admitted a while back that his small size in height and weight is the reason he could not pursue a career in football, a childhood dream of his. Imagine Logano, Earnhardt or even Danica Patrick being tackled by a 300-pound guy?
"A lot faster than you guys do," Logano responded jokingly.
Football players might die when tackled; there are a reported 325 deaths among young players before graduating college, and three professional players have died on the field. The damage done to players could be unnoticed for a few days and could eventually lead to severe consequences, as it did to the retired Patriots linebacker No. 54 Tedy Bruschi. He suffered a mild stroke after the 2005 Pro Bowl game, which was just a few short weeks after the 2005 Super Bowl where he helped his team win. He chose to sit out the entire 2005 season. He went on to play for two more seasons before retiring in 2009.
There are plenty of other players who had to take time out from football because of an injury. Tom Brady, the No. 12 quarterback for New England, took the 2008 season off because of a serious knee injury that led to surgery. Peyton Manning, the quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts, took the 2011 season off to recover from a neck injury that also led to surgery.
Recently, Denny Hamlin took time out of racing in a Nationwide race for the Daytona Jalapeno 250 because of a back injury. Hamlin had knee surgery in 2010 - but it didn't stop him from racing. Nor did Kasey Kahne's knee surgeries, his last one was in February, right before the Daytona 500. Fans joked that the surgeries helped these guys become better drivers. Putting the comedy aside, if NASCAR drivers do not live a healthier life, or one where they at least take care of themselves, their minor injuries from a wreck could lead to a short career.
One final thought: NASCAR drivers are paid through sponsorship dollars. Football salaries are determined by the National Football League individual teams and there's a salary cap. Who are the higher paid athletes? Manning recently signed a $96 million, five-year contract with the Denver Broncos. However, Brady's net worth is $100 million and he earns $26.5 million a year, where as Earnhardt Jr.'s net worth is $300 million and he earned $26 million in 2011.
NASCAR drivers are also big fans of football, as are many of their teammates. Some of the crew members were on football teams before joining a pit crew - or even getting a job at the shop. Regardless, if you're running around on a field throwing a ball, or sitting in a car driving fast around a relatively small racetrack or changing tires during the race - living a competitive athletic lifestyle is what these guys like to do and they wouldn't trade it for a good day at an office job.
Drivers are just as athletic as football players - and drivers may consider themselves to be driven by an adrenaline rush more than athletic ability.
|Genevieve at Ogunquit Beach, ME|
Photo Credit: Genevieve