Up to speed
A question for Elliott Sadler
Question: Will you be racing for another 30 years?
Answer: No, I see myself driving until I’m 40 years old, so let’s say another 10 years. I think that is one of the biggest changes you will see in this sport over the next decade. A lot of the drivers will retire at a younger age. So many drivers are getting started at 19 and 20 years old at the Nextel Cup level. That’s a big change. It used to be that you didn’t see teams investing in drivers until they were close to 30, but there has been a big youth movement over the past five years or so.
I think the biggest change for drivers, and one of the reasons that you will see them retire earlier because of how much time they spend away from the race track. It used to be that 95 percent of their time was spent at the track or in the shop, and that definitely isn’t true any more. The demands on our time are a lot more than they used to be.
In addition to driving the M&M’S® Ford, I also have been sharing the seat of the CitiFinancial Ford with my teammate Dale Jarrett. Running both the Busch and the Cup cars has obviously made for busy weekends while at the track, but another added commitment were the extra test dates.
While we’ve doubled the amount of test dates, I am definitely not complaining. What we learn from those tests helps us perform better on Saturdays and Sundays for all of our sponsors. In addition to our primary sponsors at Robert Yates Racing, M&M’S and UPS, we probably have another 15 to 20 associate partners. It takes a lot of great companies to make our race team successful, so we’re thankful for all of their support.
In addition, I have about a half dozen personal endorsements that are separate from our race team. For all of these sponsors, including M&M’S, I probably make about 80 to 90 appearances a year.
One of the best parts of my job is meeting fans at appearances. Drivers don’t have time to meet every fan that’s standing by the fence at the track or who walks into the garage, because that’s our workplace. You really don’t have much time to practice, so you’ve got to be focused on what you’re doing for the team. But when I’m at an autograph session, the fans have my undivided attention. I have time to meet and greet with every single one.
While I might only drive another 10 years or so, I would love to own my own team, maybe starting in the Truck Series. I see myself staying in the sport for a very long time but just not behind the wheel of a car. This sport has been very good to me, and I can’t imagine not being at the racetrack for “Gentleman, start your engines” each weekend.
Get an autographed #38 Elliott Sadler die-cast car!
Just email us a question you’d like to ask Elliott. If we select it, his answer will be printed in a future column, and you will receive an autographed, collectible die-cast car!
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Deadline: Nov. 1, 2005