On the track, it has been dubbed by some as the most exciting season in NASCAR history. But the 2011 season did not lack in entertaining, if not fascinating, moments away from the track as well. From television appearances and movie cameos to skydiving, NASCAR drivers and personalities certainly presented plenty of compelling options for these top moments.
Trevor Bayne and Ellen DeGeneres
Before it even had a chance to sink in, NASCAR rookie Trevor Bayne found himself fielding questions about his 2011 Daytona 500 win – and hydration issues during a three-hour race – from Ellen DeGeneres live on the set of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show”, one of the highest-viewed daytime shows in the United States. The 20-year-old became the youngest driver ever to win the Daytona 500.
Brian Vickers Jumps into Daytona
On a bright and sunny morning in June – almost a year after originally planned – skydiving enthusiast Brian Vickers landed on the infield of Daytona International Speedway. Vickers’ original plan to jump in May 2010 was grounded due to blood clots and eventual heart surgery.
At the time, Vickers estimated that he had jumped solo about 75 times, but this was the first time he turned a track into a landing zone.
The jump was part of an event to help promote the Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola.
Man vs. Food Nation
Joey Logano, driver of the No. 20 Toyota, received a mouthful from Man vs. Food Nation host Adam Richman and Sticky Lips BBQ in Rochester, N.Y. Shortly after finishing fifth at a rain-delayed Watkins Glen, Logano drove 80 miles to Rochester to take on the Atomic Bomb Challenge – downing an enormous sandwich made up of a one pound hamburger, one pound of pulled pork, one pound of French fries, ¼ pound of cheese, eight strips of bacon, hot sauce, lettuce, tomato and onion in 30 minutes or less.
Despite coaching expertise from Richman, Logano couldn’t conquer the challenge, thus fashioning this statement on Twitter: “Did you guys really think I could finish that thing?? I mean, come on.”
Edwards Nets Loudon the Lobster, Leaps From the Stratosphere
Before hitting the pavement in Loudon for September’s Sylvania 300, Carl Edwards took a run at lobster fishing from the deck of a New England lobster boat off the coast of Portsmouth, N.H. In an effort to help promote the Sylvania 300, Edwards hit the waters with the Portsmouth Lobster Company.
The Midwestern native proceeded to trap lobsters like an old pro, hauling in 10 lobster pots. Because of his success, NHMS Executive Vice President and General Manager Jerry Gappens jokingly presented Edwards with a Loudon the Lobster ceremonial trophy.
Check another death-defying, adrenaline rush-type activity off the list for Edwards. A man known for doing backflips from the roof of his car after victories, Edwards braved the 108-story, 855 foot-tall Stratosphere in Las Vegas in February as part of a promotion for the Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Perhaps the leap from the only sky jump in North America will become a tradition? Edwards went on to win the Kobalt Tools 400 in March.
Stewart Preludes The Chase with Go Karts
NASCAR fans should have noted the determination of Tony Stewart as a precursor that led to his unparalleled, come-from-behind victory as 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion during his Ford 400 preview appearance in Hollywood, Fla. in September. In a competition against NASCAR fans at K1 Speed Indoor Kart Racing, Smoke came from the back of the pack in the second race of the event to take the checkered flag.
He ultimately started ninth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup™ standings before winning five of the 10 final races – including the Homestead finale - to take home the crown.
Current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jeff Gordon and former driver and current commentator for SPEED Darrell Waltrip burst on to the big screen this season with voice roles as Jeff Gorvette (Gordon) and Darrell Cartrip (Waltrip) in Disney Pixar’s Cars 2. The computer-animated action film is the sequel to Cars, which was nominated for two Academy Awards, and hit movie theatres across North America in June.
A quartet of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers made acting appearances on the small screen back in June when Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, Joey Logano and Brian Vickers played themselves on the A&E drama, The Glades.
The episode explored the murder investigation of Cole Hunter, the fictitious mechanic for NASCAR driver Trey Lancer. In his search for the truth, Jim Longworth – played by Matt Passmore – centers much of his attention on the NASCAR garage, where he met Edwards, Logano, Stewart and Vickers.
The NASCAR scenes were shot at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
The likenesses of three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars, the No. 48 Chevrolet; the No. 88 Chevrolet and the No. 42 Chevrolet, played big roles in Transformers: Dark of the Moon, which debuted in July at movie theatres across the country. The “souped-up” versions of these NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rides were Wreckers for the Autobots in the flick that starred Patrick Dempsey, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Shia LeBeouf and John Malkovich.