I recently got the chance to do an interview with an eight-time winner in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Brendan Gaughan. Gaughan has had a very successful career in NASCAR which has spanned to over 13 years in the sport but he’s not ready to hang up his racing helmet yet. He still feels like there are a few things that have been left unfinished and some things the 13 year veteran wants to accomplish. All this is uncovered in my interview with the Las Vegas, Nevada native.
I asked Gaughan when he had started racing and I had expected him to say something like 6 or 7 like most NASCAR drivers today, but I got an unexpected answer.
“I started racing at 15 in the SNORE Desert Series in the deserts of southern Nevada and Las Vegas. Racing was something that my family had done for fun since the early 70’s.”
Like I had stated, I expected him to say an early age but he started as a teenager and in a very different way than most of today’s NASCAR drivers. He started racing off road cars as opposed to dirt cars, late models or karts.
It’s no secret that Gaughan’s father is a billionaire. He owns the South Point casino in Las Vegas so having money must’ve helped him begin his career. Gaughan had the money to start and his father was also involved in racing and raced for fun so I asked Brendan whether he thought he’d be racing if it weren’t for his dad starting him off in racing at such an early age.
“I’m very fortunate that my family has always been very involved in just about everything that myself and my brothers and sister ever did. It didn’t matter if it was football, basketball or horse’s mom and dad always were there for support. In my case, I probably wouldn’t have been introduced to racing at such a young age had it not been for the fact that my dad raced in the desert since the late 60’s. So I know that had it not been for that, I probably wouldn’t have been as interested and most likely not have had the opportunities that I got early on in my career.”
Every racer has had that one person (or more) that really had an effect on their racing career. I asked Brendan who his true racing hero was.
“Once again, my father was one of my main heroes in life growing up and even though he wasn’t a “professional” I thought he was pretty dang cool, but being around the desert I grew up watching guys like Walker Evans (who I spent most of my early years racing for) and Malcolm Smith who were the legends of desert racing. Also, my dad was friends and teammates with Rick Mears back in the early 70’s when he still raced in the desert so I have always been a huge Rick Mears fan. I also was lucky enough to grow up with Parnelli Jones who I even got to race against for a season when I was younger and finally Emerson Fittapaldi, my father and he were good friends back in the day so I always was cheering for Emmo. The really cool part about each one of my heroes in racing… I am lucky enough to call almost every one of them a friend!”
I think a fun question to ask a veteran like Brendan Gaughan is definitely which young up and comer with equipment that is lacking in every which direction is deserving of a better ride to really strut his/her stuff and prove that they need to be here. I was very impressed with Brendan’s answer to my question. Also, keep in mind, I sent all my questions prior to the Truck race in Bristol Motor Speedway last Wednesday night.
“That’s a tough question, there are so many kids out there racing their guts out trying to get a break and so many that deserve a good opportunity. I think that Ross Chastain has really been able to impress me in the short amount of time he has been out there and I really believe that Johanna Long could become great if given the right equipment and a true chance.”
Brendan Gaughan has eight career wins in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and has been in NASCAR for over 13 years. What I wanted to know is if Brendan’s career were to end now, would he be satisfied with where he’s at and what he’s accomplished. If he isn’t satisfied, I wanted to know what he feels he needs to accomplish or prove before he could feel comfortable ending his career.
“I still feel like I have a lot to accomplish, I would like to win in tall three series I would love to have the opportunity to chase down the championship that alluded me in the truck series and would love to race for many more years before I decide to hang it up, hopefully I can make all those things happen at Richard Childress Racing.”
I asked Brendan who he thought was his biggest on-track rival or who put the most pressure on him on and off the track and Brendan put in some great insight.
“That all depends on what series you are racing and can even change from track to track but I don’t feel anyone puts pressure on me, I learned a long time ago in college that no one has the ability to intimidate me or make me feel unnecessary pressure. The only person that puts pressure on me is myself, I expect to do my best every time I touch the race track and that is the most important person I have to answer to.”
I asked Brendan Gaughan the same question that I had asked Timmy Hill, if he had control of what tracks went where in the schedule, what race would he put on the Nationwide and Trucks schedule and which one would he take off the schedule. He answered with another insightful opinion.
“Fortunately for me, I don’t have that control, so I don’t care. As long as the entire field has to race on the same track then that’s all that matters to me, I would love to see a return to road racing in the trucks, but that’s about as far as I will go into the subject of playing NASCAR scheduler.”
My final question for Brendan was when he retires from driving, would he like to be involved in the media as a commentator like Rusty Wallace and Dale Jarrett have recently or an owner? Would you like to still be involved in NASCAR in some way?
“Again, I am very fortunate, I have a great business degree from Georgetown University and have also been involved in the family business my entire life. If the opportunity arose for me to do more TV and radio for NASCAR and other forms of racing I would love to, I have enjoyed the little bit of color commentating I have done for some of the old series that I have raced but I am not going to count on that, I will be prepared for all scenarios and play it by ear when it happens.”
I really enjoyed doing this interview with Brendan Gaughan. Brendan is a very smart guy as shown in this interview. He always has some insightful comments that he isn’t afraid to share and he always will if asked. You can watch Brendan race for Richard Childress Racing next on his limited schedule next in the Nationwide Series at Kentucky Speedway in the No.33 South Point Casino Chevy on September 22nd. You can also keep up with Brendan by following him on twitter at @Brendan62.
By Tyson Lautenschlager