NASCAR drivers have a reputation about them, that’s for sure. They are often described as redneck or hillbillies, with their overall reputation for being the more volatile and worse behaved cousins of Formula 1 racers. So, bearing that reputation in mind, why is it that we never see them with tattoos? Are they allowed to have them at all?
NASCAR drivers are allowed to have tattoos. They are rarely shown to the public as most of the time, the drivers are in their flame-retardant suits, gloves and helmets. They are allowed to have any style they want, and that includes piercings, tattoos and hairstyles.
So, why is it that we never see their tattoos? With so many other restrictions on the driver (weight, physical fitness) and cars (no exterior mirrors, no headlights), it can be surprising that there’s no restrictions on what drivers can do with their bodies. Keep reading for a history of NASCAR and tattoos, funny tattoo stories from drivers, and more facts about NASCAR and tattoos.
Can NASCAR Drivers Have Tattoos?
Yes, they sure can. Fans don’t see them because, in public and at races, NASCAR drivers are in their flame-retardant suits, including gloves. As none of the current NASCAR drivers have face or neck tattoos, it would be easy to assume that they don’t have tattoos at all.
This is simply not the case. Many drivers have documented their tattoo experiences on social media, with some even posting a tattoo that they have on Twitter and Instagram.
In 2019, Bubba Wallace famously received a surprise signature on his arm by the legend Richard Petty. Bubba tweeted to his followers, “Minding my bidness and The King comes in with a surprise signature attack! 43000 RTs (retweets) and I’ll get it tattooed.”
When push came to shove, his followers made it happen. A month later Bubba documented his tattoo being applied on the back of his leg on his social media. At least he is a man of his word.
Danica Patrick has a flag on her lower back, with half being an American flag and the other half a checkered racing flag. Austin Dillon got a tattoo on his butt saying, “Daytona 500 champ” after he won the Daytona 500 in 2018. Many of his pit crew got the tattoo as well, and Dillon said it only hurt when someone smacked him on the butt the next day.
Ryan Blaney has a thigh piece of Darth Vader with Luke Skywalker fighting in front. This tattoo was made famous when Blaney posed in his Princess Leia Halloween costume on social media. The tattoo and costume made Blaney famous for his nerdy taste.
Dylan Lupton has a full sleeve tattoo on his right arm. His car, sponsored by FATAL Clothing, has a tattoo inspired paint job. Complete with a sugar skull, skull and dagger, a woman’s tattooed face and body, and a spider web, the classic imagery associated with tattoos makes the car stand out against the rest of the fleet.
Because of their suits, tattoos seem less prevalent in NASCAR than in other sports. But that simply isn’t the case. NASCAR drivers just have less opportunity to show off their tattoos in public. They aren’t in short sleeves or jerseys like basketball, soccer or football at their major events, so it’s tough to see the tattoos many of them have.
As many NASCAR drivers are private people, it’s tough to say how many actually have tattoos underneath their suits. Rumors of full back pieces, full sleeves and the possibility of neck tattoos swirl around the athletes. Unless they post pictures on social media, there really isn’t any way of telling what a driver has tattooed or if they are tattooed at all.
What is the Largest Tattoo on a NASCAR Driver?
It’s tough to say what the largest tattoo is on a NASCAR driver, as it’s hard to see what tattoos many of them have. Rumor has it that Tony Stewart (nicknamed Smoke) has a full back tattoo. Dylan Lupton has a full sleeve tattoo on his right arm, from shoulder to wrist. Many other NASCAR drivers may be full of tattoos, but it’s hard to say given the suits they wear while in public.
What Happened to NASCAR Driver Danica Patrick’s Tattoo?
Danica Patrick has a tattoo of an American flag and checkered flag on her lower back. This was clearly seen in the 2008 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition but disappeared from the 2009 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. Her lower back was easily seen in the picture, so what happened to the tattoo? Did she have it removed? The answer is no, she didn’t. Sports Illustrated decided in 2009 to emphasize natural beauty. It states that freckles were left on, but tattoos were removed.
Do Tattoos Affect a NASCAR Driver’s Sponsorship?
Most companies are understanding about tattoos, especially in this day and age. Tattoos won’t affect a sponsorship unless the image is against the views of the company. There has been a ban on the confederate flag at NASCAR in light of recent protests. If a driver had a confederate flag tattoo, a sponsor may decide to pull money, or they would most likely ask the driver to cover it in all media events. That being said, it’s hard to know what is said between drivers and sponsors behind closed doors.
Do NASCAR Drivers have a Specific Tattoo Artist?
London Reese, an artist at The Black Lantern tattoo shop in California is the famous artist who tattooed Bubba Wallace during his twitter bet tattoo. Reese had previously done work on another NASCAR driver Ryan Blaney, who is a close personal friend of Bubba Wallace.
Most drivers would pick their own artist, the same way as anyone in the general public. They would look at a portfolio and talk with the artist about what they want and decide whether or not the artist was right for them. Once an artist is picked, they make a design based on the client and their needs.
Usually, they draw it from scratch and will make a non-artistic person’s vision come to life. Then they would set an appointment to tattoo. A tattoo can take anywhere from thirty minutes to thirty hours (done in sessions). It can be color or black and gray, and the art used is pretty amazing.
Many people, including NASCAR drivers, have meaningful tattoos or memorial tattoos (Kasey Kahne has his grandfathers’ initials on his inner bicep) or tattoos of a favorite movie or book (Ryan Blaney and his Star Wars tattoo). Some have lost bets (Bubba Wallace) or won races (Dylan Lupton), but all want to commemorate something of their lives.