At just 24 years-old, Ty Dillon is already one of biggest names in Nascar. Even though his grandfather, Richard Childress, is a legend in the sport, Ty didn’t always know if racing was the life for him. It wasn’t until he sat behind the wheel 11-years-ago, that, as he puts it, “whatever is in my blood clicked.” Since then he has dedicated his life to becoming one of the fastest and most well-liked drivers on the track. For his part, Ty is focused. He knows what he wants and recognizes the path that he needs to take to get there. Whether it’s physical or mental, he’s determined to be the best. Heading into the “Citizen Soldier 400” Sprint Cup Race and “Drive Sober 200” Xfinity Cup Race, with Death Wish Coffee as one of his sponsors, we wanted to know exactly what has made him so successful.
Did you always want to be a racer?
Racing was never pressured on us even though we grew up in a racing family that was involved in all parts of Nascar. I was going to the race track my whole life but I did play other sports. I loved football, basketball, baseball, all of them. I didn't get into racing until I was about 13-years-old, which sounds young but compared to most drivers who start when they’re 4 or 5 years old it’s actually a little bit later. Once I got into it and had my first time in a race car, whatever is in my blood clicked.
How did your career get to this point and what do you think has helped you take it to the next level?
Once I started racing, the focused turned into getting as many laps and putting myself in a race car as many times as I could throughout the week. By the time I was 15, I was probably racing 70-100 times a year up to the point where I started getting into the Nascar ranks then I really hit it hard when I knew this is what I wanted to do.
Do you ever get scared?
Not really. I’ve done it for so long and so many times. There're times where I get nervous before some races and there’s definitely some places that are really fast but I never get scared anymore.
What does racing and competing at this level do to your body?
Being in a race car every week definitely takes an impact on your body and you have to workout. It’s a very physical sport, more than what people realize. When you’re sitting in a car for 3-4 hours it’s usually 20 or 30 degrees hotter than it is outside with the engine heat. If it’s 90 degrees, then it’s 120 in the car. It’s really hot and you're moving very fast so the physical demands are a lot higher than what people think. The mental stuff is draining as well and you’re also losing a ton of water weight each race so you have to really hydrate throughout the season.
What do you do to train?
I don’t like to be stuck in the gym, I like to do things outside. I like to mountain bike and rock climb indoors. In the off-season, I have to put on muscle and then during the season I have to maintain it. It’s the part of our sport that people don’t really expect.
How do you stay focused during the racing season?
It's a big mental game. The sport has developed so much that we’re racing for tenths of a second each lap. Whether its pits stops or your focus, it's as fast as you can click a stopwatch, so mentally you’re constantly thinking of ways to make your car better so you can have some kind of edge. We’re always thinking of what we can do to be better, even if you’re the fastest.
What is your daily routine like during racing season?
It’s hard to say because, in Nascar, we’re different. We have so many sponsor obligations and we do so many fan signings. It’s hard to get into a normal routine. Typically we have 2-3 practices, qualifying and then the race. Every race weekend is a little bit different, a little more unique than the last. I drink a lot of coffee. My wife and I make a pot every morning. I don’t drink it black, though… I’m not that tough.
What fuels you to keep going?
The will to win, and to be the best at this sport. That victory lane, that moment where everything comes together against 43 other drivers. Winning is what drives me and fuels me the most.
What is one piece of advice that you carry with you?
I’ve gotten so much good advice over the years. My grandfather is always full of advice but honestly just treating people with respect is the biggest thing. Treat people how you want to be treated. When I have kids that's going to be one of the first things that I want them to understand.
What do the next five years look like for you?
I hope to be winning the Sprint Cup championship and I hope to have won a lot of races. I hope to be racing both Sprint and Infinity full time over the next five years and hopefully have championships in both.
What is something that people who are still getting familiar with you, should know?
I’m a huge outdoors guy. I used to ride a motorcycle then I got injured so I don’t do that anymore. I love football and baseball. The Carolina Panthers and the Atlanta Braves. My wife is a cheerleader for the Charlotte Hornet’s so I go to a ton of those games.
Death Wish will be the primary sponsor on the #95 car driven by Ty Dillon in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the Dover International Speedway on October 2.
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