Being on the bubble is not a good thing when qualifying for a NASCAR race, and being on the bubble in this debate doesn’t seem very good, either, so it’s time to step down and make a difficult call. No, the NASCAR schedule is not too grueling. That said, I do still have some qualms about my choice.
Family life for drivers, crew chiefs, tire changers, and mechanics must be a real challenge, with life revolving around a schedule that is 38 weeks long. As someone who feels that family should be the center of our lives, I have great sympathy for the wives who are raising children on their own and for the children who see Daddy maybe three or four days a week. I also feel for the drivers, who must miss watching their children as they grow up.
Yet, is this really any worse than middle class America, where mothers and fathers commute to their jobs, arriving home after the children are already in bed or leaving for work long before their kids have awakened to start a new day? Add that to the fact that while 38 weeks may sound long, for most workers, jobs are all year, with maybe one or two weeks off per year. A very high ranking job might give an employee three or four weeks vacation a year. In NASCAR, drivers not only have two months to themselves, but they now have four weeks off during their racing season.
In addition, the racing season is inherent in the job. Drivers and their teams know what they are getting into, and they know this is part of the passion. Many drivers who have a need for speed race five days a week, not just in the big three NASCAR circuits. If they didn’t have a NASCAR race, they’d probably be racing on a dirt track somewhere anyway. In fact, one of these ‘grueling’ weeks is the annual All-Star race, and drivers die to make it into that race. If offered a week off or a chance to participate in this traditional event, most would probably choose the race.
Racing is a passion that drives these people, not an option, and that’s why they are in the elite circuits of NASCAR in the first place.
Another advantage a successful NASCAR driver has is that they earn a great salary, which allows many of them to purchase their own planes and helicopters. A large number of NASCAR drivers are pilots, giving them the ability to get home quick, and if they aren’t pilots themselves, there are several owners who provide their aircraft for the convenience of their drivers and team members.
While I regret the toll that separation makes on the families of the crews, the NASCAR schedule itself is not too grueling. This is a career of choice, and it comes with some awesome perks. Though it may seem unfair at times, when you look at the big picture and the dedicated time off that the drivers and their teams actually have, it’s not that bad.
Thus, my vote is no, the season is not too grueling. In fact, they have room to add a couple of more dates in the future, should they so desire; at least, that’s how this person sees it.