I am not an avid fan of NASCAR, but there are things that I have always wondered about the sport and its athletes. Most importantly, do drivers ever have to pee or poop themselves during a long race?
That important question and many more were answered when I got to speak with Carl Edwards this week. Edwards drives the No. 19 Toyota Camry in the Sprint Cup series and has put together a pretty impressive career up to this point, amassing 27 wins and 216 top-ten finishes.
He’s also a prominent SUBWAY spokesman who, as part of the festivities for the SUBWAY Firecracker 250, will be joining the USO in hosting a lunch for members of the United States Coast Guard over the holiday weekend. It’s a cool event that honors those who have served our country at a time in which it’s extra important to recognize their sacrifices.
What better opportunity to ask one of the most accomplished drivers in NASCAR about whether he is able to fart in his car without consequence?
You’re working with SUBWAY for a pretty cool event in support of the troops. How important is it for you to give back to the military, especially around the 4th of July?
I really believe that the reason we have all these opportunities in this country is because of our individual freedoms, our liberties and the people that are out there defending that. They deserve a ton of respect and I can’t thank SUBWAY enough for letting me be a part of this. They’ve quietly donated $125,000 to the USO, including 5,000 meals. They’re honoring two veterans this weekend by letting them be a huge part of the SUBWAY Firecracker 250. They’re not just veterans who have served, but they’re also SUBWAY franchisees, so they own stores and they’re a part of the business. It’s really cool to be a part of this.
After we talk here, I’m going over to have lunch with some Coast Guard members. We’re gonna have some SUBWAY sandwiches and it’ll be great. I’m happy SUBWAY allows me to be a small part of it.
What is your favorite sub?
The sweet onion chicken teriyaki has been my go-to, but they’ve got a new rotisserie chicken that I really like also. I’ve been alternating back and forth between them.
As someone who knows next to nothing about racing, what would be your elevator pitch to sell someone on the sport?
You have to go to an event and see what happens. It’s deceptively complex. It’s an amazing sport. There’s so much that goes into it, even before you get on the racetrack. Everything that’s happening there is just over the top – the human element, the technical element. There’s everything in a NASCAR race.
At what age did you first drive a car and what initially got you into racing?
I don’t know when I first drove a car, but the first time I drove a racecar was when I was 14 years old. I drove my dad’s car — he drove a 4-cylinder on dirt – and I ran about a fifth-mile racetrack. I had been watching racing since as long as I can remember. My dad had been racing and I’d been going to the racetrack with him, but when I got in that car, it was SO much different being in the car than it was watching. It literally scared me. It was crazy. That was my first experience.
So it’s safe to say that you drove regular cars before the age of 14?
Yeah. My mom would let me drive a lot when I was younger.
One thing I’ve always wondered: How hard is it for a driver to go the normal speed limit in a non-race setting?
To preserve my eligible status as a driver’s license holder, I let other people drive more often now. [laughs]
I do have a very hard time on the road, and there’s certain people who won’t even let me ride because I’m such a terrible backseat driver. I’ve had people pull over while I’m riding with them and they’re like, “I’m getting out and you’re either going to get out too or you have to drive the car. I’m done listening to you.”
So, yeah, it’s hard to drive on the road.
Do you have more anxiety driving alongside professionals at high speeds or pedestrians on normal roads?
Regular, everyday driving is far more dangerous than what we do in the racecar. That’s one thing that racing has done for me, it’s made me respect how dangerous driving on the road is. There’s so many things to hit, so many different situations you can be in with oncoming traffic. It’s way worse.
As someone who always has to pee as soon as I start driving anywhere, do you ever have to go to the bathroom during long races?
Yes, and you should think of us every time you’re watching the races and you get up off of your couch to use the restroom. Just know that we can’t. That’s one of the tough parts. In fact, when I first started, that was one of my first thoughts. I was like, “I don’t know how this is going to work out,” but you get used to it.
So how do you handle that business?
Like I said, you get used to it. [laughs]
Another thing – anybody who is a normal person knows that farting in a car can be the deadliest thing of all time, so is it nice to be going so fast that you can fart with no consequences?
[laughs] You know what, man? I haven’t really put much thought into that one. Generally, there’s a lot of airflow, so that’s never been a real issue.
How do you prepare for a race? Do you have a typical pre-race meal or routine?
Yeah, I ease up on the fluids and the fiber. [laughs] No, the biggest thing is no new foods. You don’t want any problems. Having food poisoning in a race car is just about the worst thing ever.
The fluids thing has to be kind of complex. You sweat a ton during a race, don’t you? So you have to have some fluids in you, but not enough so that you have to pee yourself the entire time.
Physically, the hardest part about racing is that it’s just hot. In the car, you literally lose about eight to 10 pounds during a hot race. It’s a really hot environment, so, yeah, you have to balance that pretty well.
Besides the sweating and getting hot, what’s the most grueling part of a race?
The environment is just really loud, really hot, really stressful. There are no real creature comforts in a car. That’s something that all of us are working on now, being more fit and making sure we have some level of fitness. When it’s a hard race, it’s really tough. The best way to describe it is when you go get on a really fast, scary roller coaster that lasts two to three minutes, you’re heart rate will be up and you’ll be sweating. For us, it’s like that for three hours-straight. It wears on you.
What is the best advice you’ve ever gotten about racing?
The biggest thing with racing is that there are a thousand ways to lose a race. You can have a five-cent wire connector come off and you lose a race. To win a race at this level, everything has to go perfectly. You really have to be prepared – not just with the car, but physically and mentally as well. You have to be ready for anything to happen. It’s ultra competitive.
Anything else you want to add?
I just want to say that that’s the first time I’ve ever been asked about a lot of the things you asked about. So, that was interesting.