Kurt Busch Talks NASCAR, Black Lives Matter and His Drive for Success - OZY | A Modern Media Company

Kurt Busch Talks NASCAR, Black Lives Matter and His Drive for Success

Kurt Busch Talks NASCAR, Black Lives Matter and His Drive for Success

By Nick Fouriezos


Because he wasn’t necessarily destined to reach the pinnacle of his sport.

By Nick Fouriezos

NASCAR driver Kurt Busch sat for a revealing interview with OZY’s CEO and co-founder on the latest episode of The Carlos Watson Show. The following are some of the best cuts from the full conversation, which you can find on the show’s podcast feed.

On Bubba Wallace and the Black Lives Matter movement in NASCAR

Kurt Busch: It was incredible. I was impacted by it, I think, less than others because I grew up in a very diverse town. Las Vegas has people from all over the world that come in and settle in there. And I’m thankful that my mom, my dad, my families and my grandmother — she’s not alive anymore, but she taught me a lot because she grew up in Illinois, but she spent a lot of time in Alabama.

I just thought people flew it [the Confederate flag] in the South because they still think that the war was won down there. It’s like, “No. No, it’s not.” I was just like, “Hey, just let them fly the flag.” But Bubba, he’s just like us. He’s driven. He wants to win. And he’s now connecting himself in a better way. And he’s using that platform, which I think is appropriate. It’s tasteful and it’s meaningful.

Carlos Watson: The fans, your fans, how did they relate to you?

Busch: I hardly felt any friction at all. I think the understanding for all of us is to continue to make unity happen more easily. That’s what I took from it. And so whether there’s a couple of comments here or there’s some positivity over there, to me you can’t look at one to help direct the other. It’s about being right here, self-centered and soul-centered, to help push any and everybody to come together in unity. That’s what I learned from all of this.

On maturing as a driver and a person

Watson: When I first came across you, you were a little bit more of a hothead, and it’s been kind of interesting. I call you in your Drew Brees years, it feels like you’re in your Drew Brees years, where you’re still throwing for 5,000 yards a season, you’re still throwing for 40 touchdowns, but you seem like you might be in a different phase of life. Did you purposefully say, “I can’t be the same guy I was yesterday.” Was that very intentional?

Busch: I was a hothead. I thought it was all about the driver. I thought it was all about me. I thought it was all about the talent that made a racer or made a championship happen. Right?

And over time, I’ve seen that it’s about the team. There’s no “I” in team. But at the end of the day, I feel this part of my career has been more fulfilling because I’m giving back, I’m helping and pushing these guys in a direction to coach them through the things that I necessarily didn’t receive early on. But I’m not going to complain about that. That’s part of what made me who I was then to become a champion early on.

On early success

Busch: I love to compete. I love to win. The tenacity and the skill that I have was God-given. It was instilled within my father, who taught me how to race, who also taught my little brother, who’s a champion, how to race. And honestly, the simple answer is, we went to the racetrack when I was a kid early on, we went there to win. It wasn’t social hour. It wasn’t to hang out with buddies.

I had a couple of girlfriends that came to the track and they’re like, “Who are you? You’re a different person when you’re at track.” And I said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m just me when I’m at track.” It’s that commitment. It’s that commitment to craft, the dedication. There’s 365 days in a year and it’s 24/7. And I think that mentality shines through with my passion and my tenacity to win. And that’s where it all came from.

Watson: You and I both know that every race doesn’t end at the finish line. Have you ever had any fears as a driver?

Busch: Every time that I hit the switch and press start, or jump into a race, of course. And then immediately, you have to block it out and jump into, “Why am I here? Why did this happen?” And you just roll through the preparation. I mean, it’s simple. It’s teamwork, like we talked about earlier. It’s the confidence to know that you have it. It’s the preparation, and video, and running the lines through the simulator, having the setup underneath.

… That’s what we all do in motor sports. When you have an engine, when you have a car, when you have a motorcycle, it doesn’t matter if it’s a dirt bike, a street bike like the MotoGP guys, I’m telling you that chicks dig the danger. That’s it. That’s all I got to say.

Watson: What would you have done if you hadn’t made it in racing? Play that sliding doors game a little bit. What else do you think you would have done if you hadn’t made it?

Busch: If I wasn’t a racer, I honestly believe I’d have found something in racing, whether I was a crew member … Now that I’ve been in the sport longer, I’ve learned more about the marketing side, the coaching side. Now as [I’m] getting into my 40s, I want to help with that situation for people. But in all honesty, I mean, I’m a blue-collar kid from Las Vegas. To hit on this end of the topic, I was a plumber. I was fixing water lines and main breaks for the city of Las Vegas when I was 19 years old, after college.

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