NASCAR’s relationship with musicians, particularly country stars, has been tight for some time. A whole bunch of NASCAR drivers have been the inspirations behind songs, starred in music videos, and even recorded music themselves. But, when you’re in the music business there is something particularly appealing about being in the presence of a NASCAR champion.
It’s not easy to win a NASCAR title. It takes the right driver, the right team, and the right time to create that special title-winning formula. The vibe of a NASCAR champion is infectious, in that it brings with it a sense of success and a determined spirit. When an artist is in the process of making a music video, they’re probably going to want someone in the business of winning to be on set. It’ll rub off on the entire creative process. Plus, the name recognition associated with the champion definitely provides a solid numbers boost.
With that in mind, it shouldn’t be all that surprising that these four iconic NASCAR drivers have “Cup Series champ” and “music video star” on their resumes.
4 NASCAR Champs in Music Videos
Bill Elliott won the NASCAR Cup Series championship in 1988, and in 1996, he was featured in the music video for Alan Jackson’s “Who’s Cheatin’ Who.” Chase Elliott’s dad shared the spotlight with quite a few NASCAR legends, including Dale Jarrett, who won the title the year after Elliott in ’89, and Rusty Wallace, the 1999 Cup Series champ.
As it turns out, Elliott’s foray into country music started almost 10 years before his music video debut. In 1985, “Awesome Bill From Dawsonville” was one of 22 NASCAR drivers to provide lead vocals on an actual country album called “World Series of Country Music Proudly Presents Stock Car Racing’s Entertainers of the Year.” Elliott’s song “A Crazy Racin’ Man” focused on his NASCAR career.
The album, which also featured Dale Earnhardt, Cale Yarborough, and Bobby Allison, was a big-time flop, selling only 20,000 copies. It’s a good thing Bill Elliott stuck with his day job.
Dale Earnhardt Sr.
Seven-time Cup Series champion Dale Earnhardt Sr. and 17-time CMA award-winners Brooks and Dunn were both fans of each other, as the song “Sunday Money” was a tribute to Dale, who responded to the musical homage by naming his yacht after it. But, despite the mutual respect between the trio, it wasn’t easy to convince Earnhardt to co-star in the music video for “Honky Tonk Truth.”
The Intimidator wasn’t intimidated by anything on the race track, but music was a whole different ball game. The plan for the music video was to have him dress up like Kix Brooks, strum the guitar, and lip-sync along to the song. Dale was apprehensive about the whole idea, insisting that he couldn’t sing or act in any way.
Eventually, Brooks and Dunn talked Dale into the gig, assuring him that they would cut out any scenes that he wasn’t happy with. Dale eventually came around to the idea, and with a little bit of liquid courage, showed up to the set in good spirits. As you can see from the video, it turned out pretty well!
Brad Paisley and Jeff Gordon have been friends for a long time, so it was probably pretty easy for the three-time Grammy Award winner to convince the four-time Cup Series champion to star in the music video for his 2011 hit “Old Alabama.”
The prominent featuring of the members of renowned country band Alabama was more than enough to make this video a classic, but the NASCAR-based star power for the video, which was partially featured at the Hendrick Motorsports complex in Charlotte, North Carolina, took this video to another level. Three-time Cup champion Darrell Waltrip, legendary team owner Rick Hendrick, and Kelley Earnhardt Miller, Dale Earnhardt Jr’s sister and co-owner of JR Motorsports, starred alongside Gordon, who undoubtedly had an absolute blast filming the driving scenes.
Paisley and Gordon have actually collaborated on various projects and stunts over the years. Ahead of the 2010 CMA Awards, which Paisley co-hosted with Carrie Underwood, the country star convinced Gordon to dress up just like him and walk on stage as if he were Paisley himself. The prank was a smashing success, as it’s clear that Gordon and Paisley practically look like twins.
It was Tony Stewart vs. Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the music video for the 3 Doors Down single “The Road I’m On.”
Filmed in 2003, the video features Stewart, a three-time Cup champ, and Dale Jr. street racing custom Chevy Tahoes before continuing the race on a local short track. Getting paid to race? The gig had to be a no-brainer for Dale and Tony.
As it turns out, Stewart, Earnhardt, and 3 Doors Down vocalist Brad Arnold struck up quite the friendship during the shoot, which also led to a solid, albeit short-lived, business relationship.
At a Nationwide Series race in August 2003, Stewart drove a 3 Doors Down-sponsored No. 8 Chevy for Dale Jr.’s now-defunct racing team Chance 2 Motorsports. The car featured 3 Doors Down members on the hood and Arnold on the rear fenders.