How Much Money Do NASCAR Drivers Make? - Money Nation (2023)

Tom Gerencer

Surprisingly, NASCAR drivers make more money than players in any organized professional sport except the NBA. The typical driver makes over $1.5 milliona year. As we explain below, that $1.5 million is only salary. NASCAR drivers also make money from winnings, endorsements and merchandise money. In fact, the middle-of-the-road NASCAR driver makes more from race winnings than from salary at over $2.5 million a year. Factoring that in makes NASCAR drivers the highest paid of any televised competitive sport. That’s in terms of typical drivers. The top drivers in the sport don’t do as well when they’re compared to other sports. NASCAR’s top money maker is Dale Earnhardt, Jr. In 2015 he made nearly $15 million in salary and winnings, plus another $9 million from endorsement deals for a total of almost $24 million. Compare that to a big NBA star like LeBron James. Jamesmakes over $23 million in salary, plusan estimated $25 million a year from endorsement deals. That’s a total of $25 million. So while thetypicalNASCAR driver makes more money than players in other sports, the same can’t be said for the top earners.

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How Much Money NASCAR Drivers Make

The typical NASCAR driver makes $5 million a year from all sources. That includes race winnings, salary, merchandise royalties and endorsements. The median salary alone for NASCAR is $1.5 million. “Median” means that half the drivers in the sport make more than that and half make less. Looking at the highest paid driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr. rules the field with $23.6 million in total earnings for 2015. $14.6 million of that money comes directly from salary and winnings, with the rest from endorsements. The highest paid female driver is Danica Patrick. She earned a total of $13.8 million from all sources in 2015. One surprising thing about her is that she’s on the bottom end of the top ten highest paid NASCAR drivers with $7.8 million in salary in winnings, but she more than makes up for it with endorsement deals of $6 million a year total. It seems Patrick is valued more highly by fans and sponsors than she is by her team at Stewart-Haas Racing.

How Much Money NASCAR Drivers Make

Typical NASCAR driver pay (all sources)$5,091,586
Typical NASCAR driver salary$1,542,062
Highest paid NASCAR driver (Salary & winnings, Dale Earnhardt Jr.)$14,600,000
Highest paid male NASCAR driver (Overall earnings, Dale Earnhardt Jr.)$23,600,000
Highest paid female NASCAR driver (Danica Patrick)$13,800,000

Typical NASCAR DriverMoney by Year

How Much Money Do NASCAR Drivers Make? - Money Nation (1)The table below shows median NASCAR pay by year. Why “median” instead of “average?” Averages fall prey to being bent out of shape by the biggest numbers in the field. In other words, in a group of ten people were nine make $60,000 a year and one is LeBron James, the average salary would be $2.3 million while the median is a far more descriptive $60,000. The table below shows the change of a few median numbers over time. The first column contains driver salary. The base salary of the run-of-the-mill NASCAR driver in 2006 was an impressive $917,669. It has grown by an impressive 68% since then to $1.54 million. That alone would be impressive, but there are also race winnings to consider. NASCAR money is handled something like golf money. Each race has a certain pool of money that gets divided up depending how each driver finishes. For instance, Kevin Harvick finished second in the Daytona 500 in 2015, giving him $1,157,195 in prize money for the event. Joey Logano finished first and got a higher $1,586,503. Clint Bowyer finished 7th and got $437,178, and so on. The typical NASCAR driver scored $2.57 million in race winnings in 2015. Adding up median salary, race winnings and endorsement money puts the median NASCAR driver’s total pay up over $5 million per year.

How Much Money NASCAR Drivers Make by Year

YearTypical NASCAR Driver SalaryMedian NASCAR Driver Race WinningsMedian NASCAR Driver Total Earnings
2006$917,669$1,529,449$3,053,008
2007$1,331,745$2,219,575$4,310,235
2008$1,305,778$2,176,297$4,248,085
2009$1,521,002$2,535,004$4,910,295
2010$1,135,040$1,891,733$3,769,771
2011$973,615$1,622,692$3,303,730
2012$1,436,848$2,394,746$4,712,571
2013$1,299,746$2,166,243$4,321,368
2014$1,930,539$3,217,565$6,234,854
2015$1,542,062$2,570,104$5,091,586

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Also see:How Much Money Does an NBA Player Make?

10 Highest Paid NASCAR Drivers

How Much Money Do NASCAR Drivers Make? - Money Nation (2)The table below shows the top ten highest paid NASCAR drivers. Interestingly, one of them is a woman, which we don’t tend to see in professional sports. Danica Patrick is the 8th highest paid NASCAR driver in the world, though it’s thanks only in small part to her salary. Patrick’s salary is $3.9 million, which doesn’t measure up to others in the top ten list. She earned another $3.8 million from race winnings in 2015, but the biggest chunk of her money that year came from $6 million in endorsement deals. Patrick is a corporate darling, landing big deals with GoDaddy, Nature’s Bakery, Aspen Dental, Peak Antifreeze, Coca Cola and others. The #1 highest paid NASCAR driver is Dale Earnhardt Jr. Earnhardt made $23.6 million in 2015. That’s $14.6 million from salary and winnings and $9 million from endorsements. Without endorsement deals, the top ten highest paid drivers make about $10 million less than the top 10 NBA players.

Top 10 Highest Paid (Salary) NASCAR driver in 2015

DriverWinnings and SalaryEndorsementsTotal Earnings
Dale Earnhardt Jr.$14,600,000$9,000,000$23,600,000
Jimmie Johnson$15,700,000$6,500,000$22,200,000
Jeff Gordon$14,000,000$4,500,000$18,500,000
Kevin Harvick$13,000,000$2,500,000$15,500,000
Denny Hamlin$13,000,000$2,000,000$15,000,000
Tony Stewart$10,500,000$4,000,000$14,500,000
Kyle Busch$12,900,000$1,500,000$14,400,000
Danica Patrick$7,900,000$6,000,000$13,900,000
Carl Edwards$12,600,000$1,200,000$13,800,000
Kasey Kahne$10,400,000$1,500,000$11,900,000

Also see:How Much Money Do Pro Golfers Make?

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How Much Money NASCAR Drivers Make by Source

The typical NASCAR driver makes more money from winnings than from salary and the least money from endorsements and merchandise royalties. Drivers in the upper 10% make a significantly higher portion of their total earnings from endorsements. The drivers who create most of the TV ratings naturally get more sponsor dollars. The table below shows how the median driver’s pay breaks down by category.

NASCAR Driver Pay by Source

Median Winnings$2,570,104
Median Salary$1,542,062
Median Merchandise Royalties$514,021
Median Endorsements$465,398
Total Median pay$5,091,586

NASCARPay: The Democratic Money Sport

How Much Money Do NASCAR Drivers Make? - Money Nation (3)NASCAR’s money distribution method is possibly the most democratic of all competitive TV events. Why? Take a look at the data below. NASCAR drivers enjoy a very similar median and average pay level. Simply put, that means the drivers at the top aren’t eating up a disproportionate amount of the sport’s money. In the NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL, the top ten or twenty earners throw the averages out of whack. For example, the average NBA salary is about double the typical salary. The average NFL salary is more than double the median. The average MLB player makeseight times the typical player. Yet in the NASCAR world, average and typical are the same. There are no LeBrons or Ortiz’s blowing out the curves. Looked at another way, what other major televised sport pits women against men on the same playing field? It’s true that Danica Patrick is the only well known female driver in the league, but there are 12 other active female drivers and there have been nearly 100 women drivers throughout the history of the sport. While that’s not exactly equality, it’s a lot closer to it than the NBA or NFL. NASCAR may have a bit further to go in terms of race. While there are a few black NASCAR drivers, the field does not exactly overflow with them.

Here's Why NASCAR Pays More Equally than Other Sports

Median NASCAR Driver Money$2,570,104
Average NASCAR Driver Money$2,700,958

Also see:How Much Money Do NFL Players Make?

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Do NASCAR Drivers Get to Keep All their Money?

To an extent, NASCAR drivers have to plow some of their winnings back into their racing teams to pay staff salaries and for upkeep on equipment. The data in this article are based on available NASCAR winnings reported by sports statistics site Spotrac.com. Figures for salary, endorsements and merchandise earnings are gleaned from media reports and estimates, adjusted by known numbers from stars like Dale Earnhardt Jr.

How Much Money NASCAR Drivers Make vs Other Sports

How Much Money Do NASCAR Drivers Make? - Money Nation (4)Endorsement pay aside, NASCAR drivers do quite well compared to other sports stars. Even excluding all winnings, merchandise royalties and sponsor money, the typical NASCAR driver earns more than comparable players from every other league except the NBA.Top end players in the other leagues generally do better than NASCAR drivers, with the exception of the NHL. Top paid NBA, MLB and NFL players generally earn about twice the total money of a NASCAR driver in the highest salary bracket. One other drawback to NASCAR is the low number of drivers. The major league sports mostly have room for over a thousand players each, with the exception of the NBA. Even pro golf manages to fit in 241 players. In NASCAR, only 82 full time drivers fill the ranks, making the odds of becoming a pro driver a lot lower than succeeding in the other sports.

How Much Money NASCAR Drivers Make vs Other Sports

Pro Sports LeagueMedian Pay 2016Max Number of Players
NBA$2,500,000450
NASCAR$1,542,06282
NHL$1,400,0001500
NFL$860,0001696
MLB$520,0001200
PGA$508,000241

Like finding out how much big sports figures make? Check out our post here on how much money MLB players make, or this post about Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s net worth.

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Sources:

Spotrac.com

FAQs

How much money does a NASCAR driver make each race? ›

After each NASCAR race, drivers split a purse. Usually, the winner takes most of the earnings, which on average can be $47,500, and the loser takes home around $8,500. Huge races like the Daytona 500 may have prize pots of over 15 million dollars and winners may take 1.5 to 2 million dollars of that.

How much does an average NASCAR driver make? ›

The salaries of Nascar Drivers in the US range from $21,364 to $577,997 , with a median salary of $103,858 . The middle 57% of Nascar Drivers makes between $103,862 and $260,376, with the top 86% making $577,997.

Do NASCAR owners make a profit? ›

Do NASCAR Team Owners Make a Profit? The short answer is yes, they do. NASCAR hasn't grown into one of the nation's greatest, if not the greatest motorsport events by accident. It's a huge business and when team owners get the balance of drivers, equipment, and race results right, they can really clean up.

Who makes more money NFL or NASCAR? ›

When it comes to team worth, once again the NFL has a huge advantage over NASCAR. The average NFL team is worth $2.5 billion and according to Forbes Magazine that's up 8% over last year, and all but five of the NFL teams are worth at least $2 billion.

What is Chase Elliott's annual salary? ›

Previous Contracts
YearAgeTotal Salary
201924$9,500,000
202025$10,200,000
202126$8,000,000
202227-

What is Kyle Larson salary? ›

$9,000,000

Who is the richest NASCAR driver? ›

Kyle Busch was the highest paid NASCAR driver in 2023, earning approximately $18.6 million dollars in total earnings. His total earnings account for only his salary and endorsements, not additional winnings.

Who is the highest paid NASCAR driver ever? ›

Kyle Busch is the highest-paid NASCAR driver with a salary of $16.9 million annually. Busch races for the Richard Childress Racing team, driving the No. 8 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.

Is it expensive to be a NASCAR driver? ›

Owning a NASCAR team can be expected to be a very hefty investment. It involves many expenses, all of which cost a large amount of money. The expected total for owning a NASCAR team is nearly $400,000 per week, which over the 38-week season, is on average more than $15 million in annual expenses.

Do NASCAR drivers keep race winnings? ›

Through the purse split, however, the winner can still take home $47,500 a race, on average, while the loser can make close to $8,500. That's just prize money.

How much do NASCAR pit crews make annually? ›

So there you have it! Now you know that NASCAR pit crew members are some of the highest-paid athletes in the world, earning an average salary of $200,000 per year. If you're thinking about becoming a pit crew member yourself, be sure to get plenty of experience so you can command a higher salary.

How is NASCAR TV money split? ›

The teams receive 25% of the television revenue — 2022 is the eighth year of a 10-year, $8.2 billion deal — while the tracks get 65% and NASCAR gets 10%. NASCAR, owned by the France family, owns the majority of the tracks. Teams rely on sponsorship for the majority of their revenue.

What sport is the highest paid? ›

Highest Paying Sports in the World

Basketball is the highest paid sport in the world, with the average annual salary in the NBA in 2023 being nearly $10.5 million. This is more than double the average salary in the NFL, which sits in second place at $4.5 million.

What sport generates the most money? ›

The Super Bowl is the last round, where two conference champions compete with each other to determine the league champion. As per revenue, the NFL is the wealthiest professional sports league.

What sport is most profitable? ›

NFL – National Football League

It's the most profitable professional sports team not just in the US, but in the world for 2021. The Cowboys are even more valuable than some of the top European football teams – which is a different sport but one of the most popular sports in all of Europe.

How much does a NASCAR driver make per hour? ›

NASCAR pays an average salary of $40,750 per year, or $19.59 an hour. NASCAR pays the lowest earners $18,000 a year, while the top 10 percent are paid over $88,000.

Who is the highest paid NASCAR driver? ›

Kyle Busch is the highest-paid NASCAR driver with a salary of $16.9 million annually. Busch races for the Richard Childress Racing team, driving the No. 8 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.

How much does a NASCAR pit crew make per race? ›

So how much do NASCAR Pit Crews earn? A typical NASCAR Pit Crew member starts from a salary of $500 for the day for doing the duties of a Utilityman. Then comes the Tire Changer and Carrier duos, who can earn $1500 each, with a winning bonus of around $300. This makes their early earnings in the ballpark of $80,000.

How much does a NASCAR driver lose during a race? ›

Temperatures in the car often exceed 100 degrees, reaching as much as 170 degrees by the floorboards. Drivers can lose 5-10 pounds in sweat during a race. If a driver loses more than 3 percent of his body weight in sweat and doesn't replace those fluids, focus and reflexes start declining.

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