Auto racing is a sport that people go crazy about because of its intensity and excitement. The suped-up cars, high speeds, and precision of the driver to not crash into others while navigating the track makes a nail-biting watch for spectators.
Today race car drivers are some of the most followed and revered athletes. Not only that, car racers are handsomely paid in big, fat paychecks that also make them race right through the rich list. Here’s a list of the highest-paid car racers in the world.
10. Denny Hamlin ($15.1 million)
Making it to the top 10 is Denny Hamlin, with a whopping $15.1 million. A full-time racer with Joe Gibbs in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series while part-timing in Xfinity Series, he rose to the top when he won the following: 2016 Daytona 500, 2015 Sprint All-star Race, 2014 Aaron’s 499, 2010 Southern 500, Sprint Unlimited (three times!), and Budweiser Duel (twice!).
Born on November 18, 1980, Hamlin began his interest in racing at age 7, when he started racing go-karts and worked his way up to the Late Models by 2004.
In 2019, he reached victory by winning the Daytona 500, which he previously won in 2016, and became the third-highest paid driver that year. His net worth is $65 million. That ain’t a bad amount, but watch out because he’s at bottom…
9. Kevin Harvick ($15.5 million)
At number 9 of our rich list is Kevin Harvick, a stock car racer for Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Hass Racing in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and a part-timer in the Xfinity Series.
Born on December 8, 1975, Harvick debuted in 1995 at the Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield, California. His prized and most prestigious wins were the Daytona 500, Coca-Cola 600, Southern 500, and Brickyard 400, making him an elite driver in NASCAR’s elite series.
A man with 46 wins in the Nationwide Series, Harvick also has the third-highest number of wins in the Xfinity series and holds the all-time record for cup wins at Phoenix International Raceway.
8. Nico Rosberg ($19 million)
Nico Rosberg, an underrated yet excellent German racecar driver, sits at number 8 on our list, raking in $19 million in earnings in 2018. Rosberg has one of the best track records managing to finish at 2nd in the 2018 Formula One Championship.
Born in June of 1985, Rosberg won the GP2 Series in 2005 driving for the ART Team after racing for his father, Finnish world champion Keke Rosberg. He started his F1 One World Championship Career in 2006.
In 2016, Rosberg won the World Championship at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix’s final season and retired shortly after. At the peak of his decade on the track, he earned at least $15 – 20 million per year.
7. Jeff Gordon ($21.6 million)
Considered to be one of the legends in the modern era of NASCAR with an all-time Cup wins list of 93 wins, he is also the four-time Sprint Cup Champion and three-time winner of the Daytona 500. So far, his earnings and endorsements amount to $500 million.
Gordon started his interest in racing with his BMX bike, which he received from his stepfather. At age six, he had won 35 main events and had set five track records. A year later he won 51 races, and at age 11, he won ALL 25 races he entered – now that’s a superstar!
In addition to his remarkable achievements, he holds the NASCAR record with at least one pole position in 23 consecutive seasons; his 81 pole positions put him on the lead of all the active drivers, and he is considered one of the best NASCAR drivers of all time.
6. Jimmie Johnson ($22.2 million)
Jimmie Johnson is, until this date, the only NASCAR driver to win five consecutive championships. In addition, Johnsons brings in $10 million of earnings from his endorsements alone. From June 2018 to June 2019, he earned $18 million in racing, and the title of the highest-paid driver for that time.
At age four, he began racing 50 CC bikes, and at age eight, he won a 60 CC championship. His biggest accomplishment came in 1992 when Johnson won his first of three-straight motocross championships. Because of this, Herb Fisel of GM Racing offered to sponsor him in track racing.
In 1989, he was named Rookie of the Year of the American Speed Association Grand National Circuit. In 2006, Johnson finished the season at #1 – which was just the start of his career’s prime years. Today, he is known as one of the most popular drivers in the world.
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($23.5 million)
Dubbed the “Pied Piper” of Daytona because of his astounding success at the Daytona International Speedway, Earnhardt is considered one of the richest race car drivers in the world. He is a NASCAR Hall of Famer and was awarded the Most Popular Driver thirteen consecutive times.
He is the son of NASCAR legend, Dale Earnhardt Sr., who inspired his own racing career in his late teens. Earnhardt won his first race at the 2000 DirecTV 500 and has since then won 60 races in his career.
His career peak earned him $25 – 30 million dollars per year, $22 million of which was earned through endorsements. He was also the highest-paid NASCAR driver from 2008 to 2015. It was in 2008 when he earned his $30 million. What a fortune!
4. Kimi Raikkonen ($27 million)
Even richer than Earnhardt is Kimmi Raikonnen, a Finnish racing driver with a net worth of $250 million. He is one of the most successful Finnish Formula One (F1) Racers of all time, with 21 Grand Prix wins as of 2020.
Raikonnen started his career at age 10, and by age 15, he was competing in karting races in Monaco. He showed a great deal of perseverance: one time when his steering wheel broke, he kept on racing.
Because of his outstanding performance, he was able to join the Sauber Formula One team in 2000 and was given a Formula One Race license despite only having won 23 races. He joined the Alfa Rome Racing team in 2019, where he drove his team to newer heights of success.
3. Sebastian Vettel ($32 million)
At number three is Sebastian Vettel, who, despite at a young age of 29, rose to the top and became one of the all-time greats in the history of F1 racing.
Vettel started racing carts in 1995, and in 2001, he won the Junior Monaco Kart Cup. In 2008, he became the youngest driver to win a Formula One Grand Prix.
Vettel was at an all-time high when he won four F1 World Championships consecutively, putting him as the fourth person ever to win four or more championships. He has a net worth of $140 million and between 2017 – 2018 earned $32 million from salary and endorsements.
2. Fernando Alonso ($34 million)
Taking the top 2 spot is Spanish racer Fernando Alonso, who won a Grand Prix at age 22. With a net worth of $240 million, he spent years racing for Minardi, Renault, McLaren, and Ferrari.
In 1981, Borin started racing go-karts at the very young age of 3. In 1996, he won the World Champion title. In 2001, he debuted for Formula One with Minardi before joining Renault, where he became the main driver in 2003.
At 24, he became the youngest person to win a Formula One and took the title of the youngest person to win a double championship when he won the following year. Between 2017 to 2018, he earned $33 million in salary and endorsements.
1. Lewis Hamilton ($36 million)
At the top of our list is the highest paid race car driver Lewis Hamilton with a jaw-dropping salary of $36 million and a net worth of $285 million. In addition to being the highest-paid racer, he is also regarded as one of the greatest drivers in racing history.
In 1998, Hamilton joined McLaren in their young driver program and became an official McLaren driver in 2007. He won his first F1 World Championship in 2008. Hamilton is the only black race car driver in the car racing industry.
He won five championship titles in 2015 and 2016, and then again in 2017 and 2018. In total, he has 82 wins and six world championships. Between 2017 and 2018, he earned $51 million.
With all the adrenaline and precision required to excel in racecar driving, let alone to win over everyone else, it’s no surprise that these drivers make the kind of salaries they do!
From race win purses to endorsements, race car drivers are some of the highest-paid athletes in the world.