NASCAR racer Denny Hamlin said Wednesday that he believed drivers should be getting paid like NBA and NFL players.
“We’re way underpaid as racecar drivers,” Hamlin told NBC Sports and ESPN. “There’s no doubt, doing what we do, the schedule that we have and the danger that we incur every single week, NASCAR drivers should be making NBA, NFL money.”
NASCAR drivers normally receive deals within the seven-figure range versus other sports which range from eight to nine figures. ESPN reported there was “no mandatory pay scale for NASCAR drivers.”
“I'm sure this will be in some headline somewhere where Denny says drivers aren't paid enough, but I'm basing it off all other sports. I'm not including myself. I'm including the back half of the field — those drivers are risking the same amount I am and they should be paid a hell of a lot more,” Hamlin said.
The Joe Gibbs Racing sponsored driver said the sponsorship money the racers receive should not be their main salary but “bonus money” for the team.
NASCAR’s television deal, which will run till 2024 and bring in $820 million per year, is broken up and distributed to the track, team and drivers. The track receives 65 percent of the money, teams get 25 percent and drivers 10 percent, ESPN reported.
“Racetracks are making a lot of money,” Hamlin said. “And I’m not trying to throw anyone under the bus, but they’ve either got to reinvest that money, which some tracks are.”
“The crew members deserve better working conditions than what they’ve got. We’ve got to hold these tracks to a higher standard, not only with the race surface but the fan experience, the team experience. That money has to be reinvested to give us a better product and something for fans to see,” Hamlin said.
Forbes reported Hamlin earned $15.2 million in 2016, making him the third-highest paid racer that year. However, the top highest-paid racers’ income per year has decreased since 2013.