Getting Laid Off As A NASCAR Driver Isn’t Too Different From The Rest Of Us (2024)

For those of us who’ve spent any time in the workplace, it’s happened at least once: we are summoned to HR and given the dreadful news. We're handed the pink slip and told our services are no longer needed. It can be like a gut punch or, depending on the job, a blessed relief.

Now, if you’re working in your dream job, the HR person might as well be dressed in a long black hooded robe, handing over that pink slip with a skeleton hand while holding a scythe in the other.

But life goes on. Bills still need to be paid, mouths need to be fed, and babes need to be clothed. So, we dust off the resume, get the word out to our network, and embark on the dreaded job hunt.

As it turns out, this experience isn’t too different for a NASCAR driver. Minus the hooded figure, of course.

Take Chase Briscoe, for instance. The Indiana native had his dream job. He'd worked his entire life with the goal of making it into the NASCAR Cup series. Not only did he achieve that feat, but he also got to work for one of his childhood heroes, fellow Hoosier and racing legend Tony Stewart, driving the iconic No. 14 car Stewart vacated in 2021.

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But earlier this year, rumblings began. The once-mighty Stewart-Haas Racing ship was taking on water. A few weeks ago, the drivers were told the team was considering selling one, perhaps two, of their Charters—essentially franchise agreements worth millions. This could plug the hole and keep the ship afloat.

That plan, however, never materialized. Recently, everyone was told it was time to abandon ship. Tony Stewart gathered his four drivers to deliver the bad news. A definite gut punch. One that hit especially hard for the 29-year-old Briscoe, a married father with a two-and-a-half-year-old son and a wife pregnant with twins.

As soon as Stewart delivered the news, Briscoe sprang into action.

“That was the first thing I asked when Tony sat us all down and asked if we had any questions,” Briscoe said. “I said, ‘Yeah, what does this mean for us as far as being able to talk to other teams?’ And he said, ‘You guys are free to do whatever you want.’ So, literally while I was sitting in the room, I started texting people, letting them know, ‘Hey, I’m going to be available and need to find something.’”

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He didn’t need to update his resume, which is already quite impressive: a win in the Cup series and Rookie of the Year honors in all three of NASCAR’s national touring series. But at the end of the day, he still has to find a new job like everyone else.

“It’s really no different,” he said. “I think you still have to put yourself out there, let people know you’re available, go talk to them, meet them, and do whatever you have to do while also trying to perform on the racetrack and show your worth.”

Indeed, instead of a two-week notice, Briscoe’s tenure with the team won’t end until November 10, after the final race at Phoenix. Until then, he not only has to find a new job but also needs to put in a 100% effort on the track.

With the three other drivers at SHR also looking for new rides, along with others in the Cup series seeking new opportunities, and the usual crop of younger drivers in the Xfinity and Truck series wanting to move up, the market is even more crowded than usual.

Briscoe’s goal is not to be lost in the dust.

“I’m just trying to make sure I’m not left out,” he said. “I don’t have anything to fall back on. I’m not like some of the other people who have a family business or something. With a two-and-a-half-year-old and a wife and twins on the way, I definitely can’t afford to be left out and not have anything.”

Another element added to the mix is sponsorship. Briscoe has solid relationships with several sponsors, and a driver with a committed sponsor willing to follow him can be very attractive to a potential team. However, none of his current sponsors have formally committed to backing him, which is actually a good thing, according to Briscoe.

“All of them were definitely willing to talk to whoever I end up going to, but there’s no commitment on paper,” he said. “That’s one thing I’d say about Mahindra—they made it clear they don’t want to be the main topic of discussion. They want a team to hire me for me, not because of who I can bring.”

That hands-off approach makes sense when considering Briscoe’s long-term future.

“They felt it was better for them when they try to sell it to the higher-ups,” he said. “If a team comes to me and says, ‘Hey, we want Chase for Chase and not because of Mahindra Tractors or,’ it’s easier for them to sell it internally as well.

“I’m confident I have a great enough relationship with Mahindra Tractors,, and all these people that wherever I end up, I’m sure there will be discussions.”

Briscoe had plenty of experience searching for a job before getting his role with Stewart-Haas. He points out that one thing has changed since his last job hunt—something most of us don’t have to worry about.

“It’s definitely different now with the social landscape,” he said. “How many followers you have is a big thing on how sellable you are and how attractive you are to people.

“Fifteen years ago, nobody cared about Twitter or Instagram followers, but now sponsors do, so it’s changed. The landscape of how we do things has evolved. Fifteen years from now, it’ll be totally different again.”

While his job is to drive a race car, Briscoe notes, “We’re also a marketing company, and to be a marketing company, you have to be good on social media. That’s what we’ve turned into.”

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Chase Briscoe’s job search could be a short one. On Friday, Martin Truex Jr. announced he will step away from full-time racing at the end of the season. That opens one of the most coveted seats in the sport. Almost immediately, Briscoe’s name was put at the front of the speculation line. But until that’s official, or should it fall through, Briscoe will be auditioning—job hunting each and every race until the checkered flag falls in November.

“I feel like every week at this level you have to perform week in and week out,” he said. “You can’t have a couple of bad weeks because it’s like the stock market. One week you’re the hottest guy in the sport, and three weeks from now, you could have three bad weeks in a row, and everyone thinks you’re washed up and can’t drive anymore. So you’re always auditioning, always trying to prove your worth.”

Getting Laid Off As A NASCAR Driver Isn’t Too Different From The Rest Of Us (2024)
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