Interview: NASCAR DRIVER: BRENDAN GAUGHAN, Article by Sharon Abella
August 19, 2011 § Leave a comment
Well-rounded, well-educated, athletic, enthusiastic, and adventurous, are just a few adjectives to describe American Nascar stock car and truck series driver, #62, Brendan Gaughan. With 16 NASCAR Career Wins, 10 Pole Awards, 8 Truck Series victories, and 2 series Championships over the past 13 seasons, Brendan has certainly made his mark, however, driving is not the only sport Brendan excels at. While studying at Georgetown University, he also played basketball and football, as well. Born into a good family, his grandfather, is Vegas gaming pioneer, Jackie Gaughan, while his father is hotel and casino magnate, Michael Gaughan. When Brendan is not racing, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Tatum, and son, Michael James, as well as, snow-skiing in Colorado, and scuba diving all year round.
Read what BRENDAN GAUGHAN has to say about NASCAR!!!
Q: SHARON ABELLA: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to go into racing?
A: BRENDAN GAUGHAN: “You hear stories of people racing go-karts since they were five years old. That’s what they were groomed to do since they were walking. I don’t like that. I am a new father, and I don’t like that theory. I never liked that theory. When I grew up, my dad introduced me to many sports. I was on the swimming team in grade school. I played volleyball. I played baseball. You name it, I played it. My father did cross-desert, off-desert racing, similar to the Baja-1000, for fun. It was just a hobby for him. He has raced for 30 years, and I would watch him. It was just a fun hobby for my entire family, but when I got old enough to race, I raced with him. Originally, it was just for fun, and I was good at it, but it was supposed to be just for fun. I loved it, but I was just doing it as a hobby at the time . I played college sports, so it wasn’t like anything that I thought I was going to do for the rest of my life. Again, it was something that I was doing for fun, but the better I got, the more people noticed, and the more people were willing to spend other people’s money on me, and now here I am, years later.”
Q: SHARON ABELLA: “What type of training and physical conditioning is involved in racing?”
A: BRENDAN GAUGHAN: “It’s just like most sports. An athlete comes in a lot of different shapes and sizes. Anybody that watches baseball, or football, knows that a wide receiver looks totally different than a lineman. They are both athletes, but it takes a different kind of conditioning and a different kind of practice. The biggest part you have with racing is the mental conditioning, the mental toughness of it. Because when we hit walls, when we make mistakes, it hurts more. That’s really one of the toughest things. I do stay in shape. I do like to work out. I fluctuate in weight quite often. You look at some of the best in the business, Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards, Mark Martin, they are all in peak physical form.”
Q: SHARON ABELLA: “What are the most common culprits of crashes? Can they be pinpointed to a few different reasons?”
A: BRENDAN GAUGHAN: “There are a million different reasons why crashes can happen. You could blow a tire, you could have some sort of a part failure that causes a wreck. You can make a mistake and cause a wreck. Other people make mistakes which can cause a wreck. There is no just one thing that you can say, ‘that caused the wreck’. Every situation is different. Different racetracks are more difficult. When it happens, you have things that you go through that kind of are subconscious that try to stop you from hitting a wall, stop you from crashing that car. Many times there is nothing you can do about it. It doesn’t matter if you thought you were the greatest driver in the world. We all wreck once in awhile.”
Q: SHARON ABELLA: “How does a driver go from 14th place to first place? Obviously speed, but what does it take to reach first place if you are trailing so far behind?”
A: BRENDAN GAUGHAN: “In NASCAR racing, if you are down multiple laps, you are just running for points at that point. You always finish the race because you get points for first place or 43rd place. So, no matter how bad the day is, you always want to try and get back out there, and gain a couple spots, because those couple spots are points positions. It’s tough to come back from multiple laps down. People come back from a lap down all the time now. With the way the rules are, with the “Lucky Dog” rule, with the way the restart happened, with this new route policy, you can gain a lap back and get back in contention. If you went a lap down, other than it being due to a green flag pit stop, or a caution of time, and those sorts of things, other than that, if you have gone a lap down, it is most likely that you are slow, and you are a lap down because you weren’t going fast enough. You wouldn’t get that lap back. The only thing you can do on those days, is keep working hard, giving feedback to your crew, keep trying to make that race car better. The goal is to try to bring that race car home in one piece. In whatever position it’s in, and just bring it home. Say ‘okay, it wasn’t our day’, learn what you can from it, and bring it back it one piece. Because if you bring it back in a milk carton, that doesn’t help you get better when you go back. If you bring it back in one piece, you can diagnose it, say we missed here, and go back for something else.”
Q: SHARON ABELLA: “Do you have one competitor in particular that you would like to beat?”
A: BRENDAN GAUGHAN: “Whoever is in front of me. There’s guys we like, and guys we don’t like, and that’s with any sport. You always have guys that you get along better with. Some are your friends, some aren’t your friends, and some are just competitors, and you don’t know a lot about them. In NASCAR, the competitor vibe is a little different than in football or basketball. A football player sees the other opposing football player once a year, maybe. We see each other every week, so we have to have a little bit different respect level. That is kind of a key component. We may not like each other at times, but we always have to have that respect for each other with what we are doing, because our machines could be deadly weapons. It is a team sport. I have a team of guys at the race shop, that were working until ten o’clock last night trying to get this race car put together. They are the ones who have wives and children that they are missing. If I go out there and wreck my car trying to do something stupid to somebody because I have a vendetta, and I wreck both of us, all that does it take a bunch of lives and take them away from their families. You have to think big picture at those sorts of times. The smart guys always think, and always remember that there is more than just you in that race car in there. You pay attention to what is going on around you. You treat all that with respect. When it comes to who I want to beat? Whoever is in front of me is who I want to beat. I don’t care if it is for third place, fifth place, or tenth place, if they are in front of me, I want to get by.”
Q: SHARON ABELLA: Talk about racing against Jimmie Johnson.
A: BRENDAN GAUGHAN: “Jimmie and I have raced against each other since we were 15. We have been competitors against each other our whole lives, we have been friends throughout most of our teenage years. That’s the only bragging rights I have left against ole Jimmie. Jimmie never beat me for the World Championship. I always won those. He has got 5 Sprint Cup titles, I’ve got four World Championships. Those were some of the best times. We were young, in our late teens and early twenties, and having a great time. We weren’t grown up enough to know what was going on, and were just having a great time. We’ve been friends a long time. Those wins were the greatest moments ever. I love every win, and I remember every one of those.”
Q: SHARON ABELLA: “How does a driver know when it is time to retire?”
A: BRENDAN GAUGHAN: “I was told by racing great, Parnelli Jones, a long time ago, Parnelli, was a dear friend of mine and a mentor, and Parnelli told me, ‘you know it’s time to quit, when you have THAT accident’. I looked at him and I said, ‘what do you mean, that accident?’, he said, ‘you’ll know that accident when you have it’. When you have that accident, the first thing you think about is the family business. When your first thought isn’t about that race car, it isn’t about you just wrecked, or you just cost yourself the win. When it’s about the family business sure feels good right now, it’s probably time to get out. I remember my first, THAT accident. I remember sitting there, I broke a couple of ribs, broke a shoulder blade, I was sitting in the race car, climbing out, going, ‘oh wow, that hurt’. I looked at the race car, and it was a brand new race car. We just finished building it, and oh, I was just devastated. We had spent like a month a half building that race car, and putting every expensive piece of equipment we had at the time into it. I remember going, ‘oh damn, the car, oh’. When I looked at it, I knew it was destroyed, and going, ‘man, it took us so long to put it together, we’re never going to be able to fix it’. All of a sudden, I go, ‘Damn, I didn’t think of the family business. I guess it isn’t time to hang it up yet’. That’s what I was told. “You’ll know when it’s time, when you have THAT ACCIDENT, and the first thought is the family business sure feels good right now.”
Q: SHARON ABELLA: “Talk about the safety regulations in NASCAR.”
A: BRENDAN GAUGHAN: “There are a lot of safety regulations. This is their world. This is their sandbox. If you want to play in it, whether you are a race track operator, you are a race car driver, or you’re a race team owner, you have to follow by their rules. So NASCAR has taken a really big stance on every track we race on has to have soft walls, the safety barrier put up, every race car has the same strict standards that you have to abide by, how they are built, the safety devices that are in them, the safety devices that we have to wear. All these things are mandated by NASCAR. Nascar has spent the last decade, since Dale Earnhardt, Sr. passed away in 2001, really taking a lead role in race car and race track safety. It is by far a much safer sport now. There is no doubt about it. The sad part about Dale Earnhardt’s passing away was that his best legacy was what was left after he passed. He is the reason why these safety measures were enforced. He has saved many a life as a result of his passing. It was one of the saddest days in NASCAR history, when it came to losing a legend, but it totally changed the atmosphere of what was being done. It is a much safer sport now, more so, than it has ever been, 100% safer.”
Q: SHARON ABELLA: “What is your favorite thing to do when you aren’t racing?”
A: BRENDAN GAUGHAN: “I spend time with my wife and son. I am also an athlete by trade. I snow ski in the winter, and love the mountains in Colorado. Then, I also scuba dive all year round. I’m either underwater teaching scuba diving, or going scuba diving on my own. Those are the main things I do in my spare time right now.”
Article by Sharon Abella