Let’s just face it, the sports celebrities we see and follow aren’t as dazzling in real life as we think. No one’s perfect. Like every person in the world, they too have some problematic sides to them. There’s been a long controversial history of celebrities doing things ranging from getting in fights, drug abuse, sleeping around with unbelievable numbers of people, being plain jerks to committing literal crimes. Even renowned NASCAR superstars fall into this rabbit hole that ends up making people detest and criticize them.
In this article, we’ll be listing the top 10 most hated NASCAR drivers.
#10. Carl Edwards
Two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Carl Edwards protects his privacy and private life in a way that we don’t know much about him. But there are people who’ve met him and interacted with him that said his behavior was “fishy” and somewhat unsettling.
Edwards always had a wide smile on his face, too much for it to be a simple show of happiness. Many fans ponder whether his smile was genuine or a facade that hid deeper malice. Either way, we can conclude that Carl Edwards is a pretty strange dude.
#09. Lee Petty
As a man who earned his living by setting his wheels on smoke, Lee Petty was quite determined to win on the tracks. With the burden of financial trouble on his shoulders, Petty was ready to risk it all. Not only did he use illegal parts in his cars, but he also drove aggressively in almost all of his races.
Petty’s reckless and desperate tactics stood to be problematic and hazardous. So much so, his became a huge concern as NASCAR fans started to write tons upon tons of complaints. NASCAR addressed this issue and openly let him know by writing him a letter. Other than that, American car designer Smokey Yunick once described him as “a two-faced, dirty driver”- a statement that spoke volumes. So, he is one of the Dirtiest Drivers of NASCAR ever.
#08. Darrell Waltrip
Darrel Waltrip has to be one of the smuggest drivers in NASCAR history. After all, he earned himself a nickname because of this trait of his. In the 1977 Southern 500, the American stock car driver crashed into the runner-up Cale Yarborough, wrecking his car all the while. When asked about the stunt Waltrip pulled on him, Yarborough simply said, “Jaws, Jaws, Jaws” (Referring to the classic 1975 thriller), particularly because of his big mouth and rotten driving tactic ramming into cars.
Darrell Waltrip was boastful from the very start of his racing days; he was widely known as the full-of-himself, cheeky, bold impudent. Even as a newbie in the racing game, Waltrip used to call out old school racers and outright disrespect them. He openly had to feud with drivers like Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, and another bad-boy in this list- Dale Earnhardt.
#07. Jeff Gordon
Jeff Gordon is the first racer in this list to be included merely because he was too talented. No one wants to see their favorite racer get dethroned, and of course, people would be mad at Gordon for stealing wins left and right. The young and dashing Californian stock driver stuck out like a sore thumb. He took over many legendary racers like Dale Earnhardt, Rusty Wallace, and many more.
Jeff Gordon is one of the winningest drivers NASCAR has seen; his fierce driving earned him many championships wins. Unfortunately, his success also brought suffering, as almost every game he won, he got boo-d by the crowd. People irrationally hated Jeff Gordon and discouraged him when he was still racing. However, he became well respected after his retirement in 2015, as Gordon was finally a fan favorite and a legend by that point.
#06. Curtis Turner
Curtis Turner definitely belongs to this list, given his aggressive behavior and lifestyle. In the official biography of NASCAR, he’s been stated as “NASCAR’S First Bad Boy.” He spent most of his life drinking and partying away. In his racing career, Curtis’ style of hard-driving and habit of “popping” drivers ahead of him earned him the nickname “Pops.” He would hit drivers from the back to move them out of the way.
Curtis Turner is one of the original hell-raisers of NASCAR. He was once banned in 1961 from NASCAR for trying to unionize with other drivers, although the ban was lifted not too long afterward (4 years), and he returned to race as determined as ever. Turner’s fierce demeanor and inability to stick to the rules made him one of the dirtiest racers in NASCAR history.
#05. Tony Stewart
Tony Stewart is one of the most successful drivers, but he has a bad temper. His anger gets in the way of him appropriately interacting with other people, especially the racers he goes head-to-head against. “Smoke” once got angry with fellow racer Joey Logano after a late-race block.
Stewart accused him of purposely trying to crash his team’s car. Tony got mad enough to instigate a pit road fistfight with Logano. Aside from that, Stewart also spun Jeff Gordon on pit road as payback for a small bump during racing. To sum up his personality, Tony Stewart is a hot-headed aggressive driver who throws punches and insults at drivers and reporters. Although he’s comparatively calmed down a bit in recent years, Stewart’s past actions caused a lot of controversies that give him a place in this list of bad boy NASCAR drivers.
#04. Kurt Busch
Kurt Busch isn’t anything less than his younger brother Kyle Busch. Forbes Magazine has officially dubbed him as “One of the most disliked athletes in America.” It’s as if the horrible temperament runs in the family, as hot-headed Kurt Busch has made many threatening statements that ended up costing him.
The bad-mouthed and arrogant racer has spent most of his career being suspended for his menacing words and acts. Let’s be honest here, and it was expected that he’d have more enemies in the game rather than friends. Kurt’s horrible temperament caused him to get punched in the face by Jimmy Spencer after a game in Michigan. It wasn’t all that surprising when everyone took Spencers’ side on the matter. He was actually praised for raising his hand! It’s easy to see that Kurt Busch isn’t well-liked, but it isn’t bothersome to him as he proudly wears his black hat.
#03. Kyle Busch
Even though he’s one of the most successful, Kyle Busch is also one of the most despised racers in NASCAR history- for all the right reasons too! Kyle has a nasty personality. He’s famous for his barbed and sarcastic vocabulary. The arrogant driver is often seen making nasty remarks about other racers.
Like Dale Earnhardt, Kyle drove aggressively on the tracks- purposefully wrecking other drivers and never taking responsibility for it. Being competitive is one thing; being a pure jerk is another. Kyle Busch’s recklessness isn’t limited to just the racing tracks. The professional NASCAR driver was arrested for driving at 128 miles per hour at a 45 miles per hour suburban school zone. Kyle’s been at the center of controversial debates, though he never seems to hate it. He’s happy with all of the attention he’s setting, whether it’s good or not. Busch openly mocks everyone who questions his choice of racing style or acts. In short- Kyle Busch is hated because he’s a plain twit.
#02. Tim Richmond
Tim Richmond was someone who took the “we’re here for a good time, not a long time” phrase to heart. The playboy of NASCAR drivers spent most of his life partying, having promiscuous relationships, and like most bad apples in the bunch- dabbling into drug use. Despite having denied any claims of him using illegal substances, The racers’ physical for the Winston Cup’s driver’s license in 1988 proved otherwise.
Richmond’s positive test for drug use left everyone baffled. Crew chief Harry Hyde let out his disappointment– “I just hate it because I liked Tim, I thought I knew him.” Other than that, because of having slept around with tons of women, Tim Richmond contracted AIDS. It was the ultimate downfall of his career- along with his life.
#01. Dale Earnhardt
The late NASCAR Winston cup champion is one of the finest racers the world has ever seen, deserving of the title of a “legend.” Although he was a racing icon, when he was still alive, he was, to be frank with you. When some NASCAR fans were interviewed on what they thought about “The Intimidator,” most of the responses weren’t so positive. Some called him arrogant that he made fun of and bullied people for no reason.
Others said Dale’s reckless and selfish racing tactic of knocking away cars to get an advantage made him despicable. It seems like karma got the racer back as he was a victim to a lap crash in the 2001 Daytona 500. His car was pushed by Ken Schrader’s, the same tactic Dale Earnhardt used on others. The crash ultimately killed him in an instant. Dale’s death made headlines and sparked a lot of controversies, as well as lawsuits on-track safety.