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Bizarre Superstitions of Race Car Drivers

When you think of sports superstitions, baseball usually comes to mind. From players not washing their uniforms to eating only chicken before a game, baseball is loaded with superstitions and rituals. In fact, in college, one entire lecture of my anthropology class was dedicated to the history of “baseball magic.” Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines superstition as “a belief that certain events or things will bring good or bad luck.” The auto racing industry is no different! We too hang our hopes on silly rituals to get a leg up on our competitors. One of the most common auto racing superstitions is the “No Green Cars” belief. This superstition dates back to 1920 when Gaston Chevrolet, brother of one of the Chevy Motors co-founders, was killed in an auto racing accident while driving a green car. Another popular superstition is the number 13. This belief tends to span many cultures and time periods. But even in racing, the number 13 is unlucky. So much so, NASCAR numbers their pits so that no team is in the “number 13” pit. The rituals of lucky charms, talking to your race car, and wearing mismatched shoes have been around for a while. Which got me thinking, what are some superstitions of modern day drivers?

My superstitions range from normal to…let’s call it…”unique.”

• I have to fist bump my crew chief after being buckled in the car before a race.

• I talk to my Dad (R.I.P.) in my head before every race.

• My good luck charm is “Speedy,” a stuffed animal white tiger I have zip tied to my roll cage. Speedy was given to me by my former Hallett crew chief John Zentner and his daughter Rhia. Speedy even survived my recent accident at Road America. I bet she is the only white tiger to roll 5+ times in a Porsche Cup Car! Speedy did not follow me to the ER, but the crew shipped her home to me in Oklahoma. She is definitely riding shot gun in my next race car.

• In Porsche Club racing, my Hallett Motor Racing Circuit team always had the superstition of “No Fun Races.” Porsche Club of America runs “fun races” that are non points races which give veterans a chance to use the session as a test run and give rookies an opportunity to practice their race starts. Our team had a strict no fun race policy. One time at Mid-Ohio I had to run the fun race for testing purposes. Of course my transmission broke during that session. We had other team members which would get in an accident or get hit with the dreaded 13/13 PCA penalty during the fun race. Simply put, “fun” races are bad luck!

The following is a fresh list of superstitions from my friends and colleagues in the racing industry. Enjoy!

 

Stephen Cox, TV Host & Racing Champion

 Stephen Cox“Never lay my helmet upside down. Never. Freaks me out. [I] walk out on track (must be alone), squat down and run my hand over the asphalt. Sometimes 5 seconds. Sometimes 5 minutes. Not sure why. Maybe I’m becoming one with the universe. [I] carry a green scarf in [the] front pocket of my fire suit. My mom gave it to me at my first race in 1985. Carried [it] at every race since.”
http://www.sopwithmotorsports.com

 

 

Sparky Grape, 2005-2006 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Team Owner

“I had lucky shorts and if my right glove wasn’t on top of the left glove in the car when I went to put them on, I’d get out, reach in through the right side window and rearrange them.”
http://www.grapecomp.com

 

Melanie Snow, 2009 GT3 USA National Champion

Melanie Snow “Since I had that big crash [at Road America] I won’t do what I did just prior to that race. So I changed the music I listen to and [wear] different Nomex and suit (but that was easy since they cut it off anyway [at the ER]). Other than that I always say a prayer once we pull onto the front straight to grid.”
http://www.snow-ahead.com

 

 

 

Larry Foyt, Former Indycar & NASCAR driver, Team Manager A.J. Foyt Enterprises

Larry FoytLarry Foyt has the “normal” racing superstitions such as green cars can be bad luck but has witnessed some unusual ones, such as “Kenny Brack’s wife would always kiss the nose of the car for all of Kenny’s races.”
http://foytracing.com/

 

 

 

Andrew Davis, 2011 Rolex GT Champion

Andrew Davis“I purposely have none because I feel it’s a great way to get a driver’s head out of the game by using something that is out of his/her control.”
http://andrewdavisracing.com

 

 

 

 

Doug Bielefeld, Tudor United SportsCar Championship Prototype Challenge Driver

Doug Bielefeld“Don’t step on [the] bricks at Indy unless you’ve won! Pray [before each race]. Put [racing gear] on in sequence so you don’t forget something. And don’t touch the car after quali.”
http://www.bar1motorsports.com/doug-bielefeld/

 

 

 

 

Christian “Mental” Ward, Club Racer & Instructor

Christian Mental“I always have a cowboy hat with me at a race. It started as a joke…[but] when I went to my first LeMons race I wore one and it got to be my thing. So much that even in winter races I wear one.”

 

 

 

 

I want to hear about your racing superstitions! Share your experiences by leaving a comment and don’t forget to share this article on Facebook & Twitter.

Race Car Driving Motorsports Superstitions

7 Comments

  • V Man Says

    Love it! Sounds like everyone has their little corks!

  • Stephen England Says

    Three generations of Oklahoma Region SCCA drivers, George England, John Saucier, Steve England, Randy Saucier believed it unlucky to wish a driver “Good Luck” before a race. The entire family and their crews would tell their driver on the false grid, ” Have Fun.” !

  • Paul M. Says

    David Coulthard allegedly wore the same pair of boxer shorts at every grand prix during his early years in the sport…

  • tc marnne Says

    Never EVER just one more lap or I’ll hit this jump one more time…
    I literally almost passed away after saying that and what ultimately caused me to stop riding/racing pro bmx..

  • Kristin Treager Says

    Great info guys! I especially like using “have fun” instead of “good luck!” I might have to steal that one…

  • If I miss a post, it is like I skip the train or some thing.
    It really annoys me!

  • MiataSteve Says

    I have a little prayer I say and cross myself when on the grid. I wear my Dad’s dog tags on race weekends. I forgot them once and blew the race so bad….but I didn’t remember the tags until after the race.

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