GREEN, THE NUMBER 13 AND PEANUTS: A GLIMPSE INTO SUPERSTITION
If the legends are true, Casey Mears may have the most bad luck of all the drivers in Sunday’s Daytona 500 (FOX, 12 p.m. ET).
Racers are a superstitious lot, with rituals they follow every weekend and things they avoid like the plague. Peanuts, the color green, and $50 bills historically are the big three of bad luck for racers, but every driver has his or her own unique quirks.
“Peanuts are a bad thing in racing,” said Kurt Busch, the 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion. “Banana peels are bad. Green and the number 13.”
Mears has a specific take on the whole superstition thing, which makes sense given that he drives the GEICO-sponsored Ford that carries both a partially green paint scheme and the No. 13.
“When I used to race Indy Car I felt like I had time to worry about that,” Mears said. “One that my dad started was to never set your helmet upside down or you would end up upside down. That is one that I hang on to. Plus it scratches your helmet. We used to say to stay away from green. He used to say stay away from 13, but it is on the side of my door so I can’t say that. I guess I just don’t have the superstitions I used to.”
Busch admitted he wasn’t quite sure how the peanut thing got started.
“Might have been (something bad happened) here at Daytona years ago and people just blamed it on the peanut shells,” Busch shrugged.
And his pre-race ritual? “I try to always get a turkey sandwich in,” Busch said. “I don’t know why. That just helps settle my stomach. We’re always a little nervous before the race.”
The most unusual superstition might belong to David Gilliland.
“I try not to shave on race days,” said Gilliland. “That’s probably a superstition I got from a guy named Jerry Dodd, the first guy I ever drove for when he was my car owner. He made sure that if I shaved on race day, he was gonna yell at me, so that’s probably one. And then I always try to get a note or picture from my kids that they draw to put in the race car. That’s pretty special to me. As far as meals and eating, I try and eat chicken — just bland kind of stuff. Chicken is usually the best.”