Regan Smith is still making a name for himself among NASCAR Sprint Cup fans. But those who have been around a while know that he comes by racing naturally. He is the son of Ron and Lee Smith, former NASCAR Nationwide Series owners. His parents taught him about more than racing, though. His mom served as an animal rescue volunteer on the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Getty Images for NASCARJerry Markland
Did you know?
NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers live very public lives, with facts and information about their past and present constantly in view. But sometimes they offer true insight into the personality and past of the individuals these men are. With that in mind, here's a look at a few facts about some drivers that might have been forgotten over time.
Aric Almirola is trying to make a name for himself in NASCAR racing, but did you know that he wasn’t in the car on the final lap of his first official win? Almirola started the 2007 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at the Milwaukee Mile when Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin couldn’t land in the area as he traveled from Sprint Cup qualifying at Infineon Raceway in California. Almirola was running third early in the race when he was pulled from the car because Hamlin had arrived at the track. Hamlin went on to win the race but, per NASCAR rules, since Almirola was credited with the start, he was also credited with the win.
Dave Blaney is all about family. His brother, Dale, was drafted by the LA Lakers and played in the CBA. In addition, he owns Sharon Speedway in Hartford, Ohio, with his family. And he's helping his son, Ryan, embark on his own racing career.
Kyle Busch gains more than his share of headlines on and off the track. Fans know much of his history, but did you know that he has always been built for speed? Busch graduated with honors from Durango (Nev.) High School in 2002 — a year early in order to accelerate his racing career. He’s spent some offseason time chasing new thrills, too . . . learning to surf in Hawaii following the 2006 season.
Driven to succeed
Certainly everyone knows that Dale Earnhardt Jr. values his personal time and keeps his private life just that when he wants to. He’s well known for owning Whisky River in Charlotte, but did you know that he also keeps an impressive collection of personal cars on hand? Earnhardt Jr., who lists his favorite sports team as the Washington Redskins, has a garage that includes the 2006 Corvette Z06, 2001 Corvette C5-R with Le Mans wing, 2005 Corvette, 2001 “Intimidator SS” Camaro and a 1948 Chevrolet truck are just some of the vehicles in his personal fleet.
Carl Edwards was another driver who was toiling away at a “regular” career when he finally broke into NASCAR. Edwards was a college student at the Univ. of Missouri and a part-time substitute teacher prior to signing with Roush Fenway Racing. Still, he comes by racing naturally; Edwards father Carl “Mike” Edwards won more than 200 feature races driving modified stock cars and midgets at Midwestern tracks.
David Gilliland is quietly becoming quite the restrictor-plate racer and is gaining ground in the Cup series. But once he chased more than Cup trophies. Gilliland played on his Western High School golf team in Anaheim, Calif. His teammate? PGA Tour superstar Tiger Woods.
Getty Images for NASCARNick Laham
Jeff Gordon is one of NASCAR’s most active drivers in terms of charitable causes. He visited the Congo in 2011 and Rwanda in 2012 as part of his work through the Jeff Gordon Foundation, which was founded in 1999. The group primarily supports children battling cancer, and Jeff Gordon’s Children’s Hospital in Concord, NC. Gordon has historically supported charities working on behalf of children in need, including the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Hendrick Bone Marrow Foundation and Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.
Getty Images for NASCARJerry Markland
Kahne has obviously made great strides in his Sprint Cup career, joining Hendrick Motorsports for the 2012 season. But he’s also committed to charity endeavors and being a contributing part of his committee. In 2005, he created the Kasey Kahne Foundation to raise funds for organizations that support chronically ill children and those that held disadvantaged youth. In 2006, he was appointed by President Bush to serve as a member of the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation. He works bring awareness to the importance of volunteering.
Jamie McMurray may have surprised some when team owner Chip Ganassi decided to move him up the ranks. But he was already a champion. McMurray won four U.S. Go-Kart titles from 1986-92 and was World Go-Kart champion in 1991. In 1989, he was selected as one of only 10 Americans to represent the U.S. in an international karting event in the former Soviet Union in 1989.