NASCAR (The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) has been an American tradition since 1947. Its founder Bill France Senior must have known that great things were coming because they certainly have.
NASCAR is the nation’s second most watched sport after football, and audience attendances at live meetings are incredible with NASCAR being the most attended sport in the world.
With all this popularity, it must come as no great surprise that some of the sport’s most popular and successful drivers are doing very well for themselves. How well? Check out our list of the 15 richest NASCAR racers ever.
15. Jimmie Johnson – $40 million
14. Jeff Burton – $45 million
Having driven nearly 700 races, Jeff “The Mayor” Burton probably doesn’t have much left to learn about NASCAR. Even though he’s never won a major race – he’s a huge fan favorite and that means the money isn’t far behind. His earnings on and off track have been considerable.
13. Carl Edwards – $50 million
Carl Edwards’ financial success comes as much from his crowd-pleasing antics after and before the races as it does from his racing wins. He was Rookie of the Year and the fans absolutely love his appeal. So do marketers, who help ensure he’s packing in the cash every single year.
12. Kasey Kahen – $50 million
Spend 11 years in NASCAR and at the top of the game and your bank balance is likely to be very healthy indeed. Kasey Kahnes has won the Coca-Cola 600 and delivered nearly 150 top 10 finishes during his time. Now he owns his own NASCAR team too, for good measure.
11. Cale Yarborough – $50 million
10. Greg Biffle – $50 million
Greg Biffle’s a seriously committed driver with more than 13 years of racing in NASCAR events. He’s won just one shy of 40 of the events he’s competed in, too. He was once elected “the most popular racer” in the Busch Series. All this adds up to a lot of money in Greg’s pocket.
9. Matt Kenseth – $60 million
Race for 17 years and notch up 29 wins over nearly 530 races and what have you got? Matt Kenseth holding a cool $60 million. Strangely, more of his money comes from racing than most other people on his list – his endorsement portfolio is not particularly heavy compared to others on this list.
8. Richard Petty – $60 million
Richard “The King” Petty is the most celebrated driver of all time in NASCAR. He pulled in an incredible 7 NASCAR championship crowns as well as more than 200 race wins! If he’d been racing today, his bankroll would be nearly double the nonetheless impressive $60 million he has now.
7. Mark Martin – $70 million
Mark Martin failed to land a Daytona 500 win. He was never crowned a NASCAR champion. But despite that, he’s done very well from a career in which he never quite moved out of second place but always made second his own. He also has the second highest level of race wins in the history of NASCAR.
6. Tony Stewart – $70 million
Tony Stewart’s success can be partially attributed to the fact that he drives for his own team, Sprint Cup Series. That means he gets to take home a bigger chunk of the prize money than other drivers do. He’s done very well at racing too though, with three Sprint Cup Series championships to his name.
5. Dale Earnhardt Senior – $70 million
Dale Earnhardt Sr. is one of the all-time greats of NASCAR. “The Intimidator” as he was better known to fans won more than 70 races, including a Daytona 500 win. Sadly, he lost his life in the Daytona 500 when he crashed in the last lap of the race.
4. Kevin Harvick – $70 million
Kevin Harvick’s eponymous racing team Kevin Harvick Incorporated is one of the many reasons he’s made a lot of money out of NASCAR. Though it’s fair to say that his near 50 wins in races hasn’t hurt his wallet any either. He’s also a Daytona 500 winner.
3. Ken Schrader – $75 million
Ken Shrader’s love of NASCAR as a sport is probably unmatched by anyone. He’s raced in multiple divisions and shown that he can succeed in all of them. He’s not a sure bet for anything when he’s competing, but his dedication to the sport is unmatched.
2. Jeff Gordon – $150 million
You don’t make $150 million in a sport without being a sensation. If you can take the Daytona 500 on three occasions, however, it puts you at the pinnacle of NASCAR. Jeff’s been so successful that his winnings over his career exceed $100 million and the rest comes from endorsements.
1. Dale Earnhardt Junior – $300 million
While his dad did well for himself, but Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the most successful, financially, NASCAR driver of all time by a barnyard mile. $300 million comes from his own team, his huge number of victories and from being the most popular guy in the sport of all time.
It seems obvious when you think about it that NASCAR’s popularity would create some very wealthy people, but did you think that racers could earn this much money?
NASCAR fans are among the most loyal and dedicated of any sport in the world. They’re certainly the ones most likely to turn up to watch their favorite racers in person.
Is it right that racers should earn this much money or is there something out of balance here? Tell us who your favorite driver is and what you think in the comments below. We’d love to hear what you think!