By Patrick Olsen on May 30, 2007
CONCORD, N.C. — From small things, big things eventually grow.
For Kurt Busch, the road to becoming a successful NASCAR driver started small. Looking back, Busch admits he was driving for some time before he legally could.
“Yeah, I was probably into some cars way too early,” Busch said. “I do know that I drove when I was 15 and a half with my learner’s permit, in a car that my dad and I built. It was a 1964 Volkswagen Bug. We bought it for 500 bucks and restored it from the ground up.”
With a car that old, you might wonder how often Busch wound up replacing parts, including the clutch.
“Actually, we never had to replace the clutch. Went through some brake pads, though. Wore out the brake pads,” he laughed. “It was just a fun car to have as your first driver. It definitely struggled with the heat out in Las Vegas. It was only air-cooled, and we’d go cruising up and down the Strip with it. Definitely a fun car to have.”
Of course, the life of a NASCAR driver is not all fast driving. There are more pedestrian pursuits, like getting the groceries and running around town. For that, Busch has a split approach.
“Yeah, you got your daily driver, and then you’ve got your sports cars,” he said. “Right now my daily driver is a Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8. So it’s got the horsepower; it’s got the Hemi, it’s got a lower stance, it handles well. I love it. I’m a truck guy, too. I’ve got my Ram 1500 pickup,” he said.
“There’s a couple sports cars, with a Porsche and a Viper and my Ford GT. I’ve got a nice arsenal going so far.”
As part of Gillette's “Fast Cars & Superstars — Gillette Young Guns Celebrity Race,” a reality show (which Cars.com is sponsoring) that begins airing June 7 on ABC, Busch was training celebrities like Super Bowl MVP John Elway and professional surfer Laird Hamilton in the Cars.com race car. Given a choice, would he like to swap places with Elway in his heyday?
“Could be that,” Busch said. “Or hanging out on the beach, getting paid to surf. That’d be cool.”
Editor-in-Chief Patrick Olsen was born and raised in California. He loves pickup trucks and drivers who pay attention. Email Patrick