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The SportsRantz NASCAR Fan Council answered this week’s question: Should the owners and teams place limits on what drivers can do in the off-weekends? And the responses are in from the Council! With special guests; Justin Johnson (NASCAR Driver), Phil Hampton (NASCAR Driver), and Mike Harmon (NASCAR Driver) also answering my question from the viewpoint of a driver!

Let’s hear what the Council has to say:

Andrew: The drivers are considered private contractors and as such work out their own contracts.  The owners have the right to write in off week guidelines for their driver in those contracts, and penalties if the driver violates the contract.  I think it is well within the rights of the owners, who are paying the drivers boat loads of money to drive for them, to require some common sense. Yeah, I think it is ok to for the owners to protect their investments.

Jason: The owners do have a monetary investment in drivers, so if the drivers are being reckless or bring any disdain  to their team/sponsors then I believe the owners have a say so, such as going 145/45 mph , illegal drug use, DUI’s, or any other harmful crime.

Katie: I think owners shouldn’t allow the drivers to do stupid things (like publicly party and get drunk, things that bring the company a bad name). But it is the drivers’ personal lives. So I don’t think they should have a lot of say. Obviously some owners (like Redbull) allow their drivers to sky dive while others don’t. I think drivers know the owners well enough not to go out of bounds because they know what their owners allow them to do. For example, Childress will go hunting and fishing with his drivers. I think in way drivers and owners have an unspoken (or maybe spoken/written) agreement on what they can and can’t do. Drivers have to realize that if they’re hurt, they hurt the company.

Matt: That is a good question. From the owners standpoint I can understand why they would want to place limits on what drivers do on off weekends. If someone got hurt driving on the off weekend and in effect he can’t drive in the cup series, the sponsor of that car is going to be very mad. The owners and sponsors place too much of an investment in the drivers that I think there should be limits on what they can do.

New Council Members:

Ben: I do feel there should be limits. I understand the fans want to see the big names at tracks that don’t have a Cup race, but how fun is it to see the big boys beat up on the up-and-comers? I don’t see a problem with the Cup stars running at Eldora and other tracks like that, but it annoys me to see Kyle and the others win NW race after NW race and kind of hindering the development of the NW regulars.

Carlie: They should only have certain limits as long as they don’t get into any big trouble. They should be able to go where they want and have some freedom during their off weekends. After all they all work hard!

John: I feel during the season a driver under contract should be under the complete control of the Owner as to what he can do on off weekends. He should not be able to do anything to damage the “product”. The obvious such as skydiving, bullfighting, wrestling, motorcycle racing or stunts and things like that should not be allowed. I think they should also have final say-so if they want to drive a car race for another driver/owner. As anyone who is in the NASCAR world will tell you, there is NO off weekend in NASCAR. There is always something to do for your car, your team, your chance to win. I personally don’t think any driver that is in the CHASE should be allowed to drive any other series during the final 10 races of the season, but that is another article.

Tom: I think the owners (and in addition, the sponsors) have some right to limit what their drivers do on off weekends.  Skydiving?  Bungee jumping?  Things like this should be avoided.  However, I think racing-related activities (Nationwide, CWTS, sprint cars, sports cars, etc.) should be left to the driver’s discretion.


NASCAR Drivers Perspective:

Justin Johnson:  I think if your contract allows then do it live life you never know when your time is up. God has a plan for us. Plus not letting the driver do anything but just drive is too far. Got to have a life too!

Mark Harmon: First of all it’s hard to keep a racer from racing and it even harder to keep racer out of a car when we feel the need to race. Some sponsors and team owners don’t want them doing it and get it setup in the contract were they are not allowed to do that. but if you stop and think about it the driver is the 1 taking the biggest risk, racing in the cup series or the nationwide series he can make  10 * as much as what they would racing any other race, so is he gets injured he’s the 1 that’s losing the most. There have been several sponsors that have had to replace an injured driver. But a driver, who has a passion for racing, has to ask his self where does the racer stop and the businessman begin? As racers, myself and others  know that we are not invincible but we have to have the mindset that we are in order to do what we do, so on off weeks it that mindset also carries over. I personally feel the decision should be up to the driver as they are the 1 that is taking the biggest risk.

Philip Hampton:  No because you can get injured walking on a deck or driving a streetcar on the road. Paul Menard got injured doing everyday things & Kasey wasn’t in a sprint car that flipped over numerous times. There’s no way to prevent injuries when they could happen at any time or place.

It would seem that all around the drivers and fans can agree on this topic. And I would like to thank the Sportsrantz Nascar Fan Council Members and the NASCAR Drivers for their time to answer this week’s question.

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