JF1192: How A NASCAR Champion Stays One Step Ahead Of Everyone Else On And Off The Track with Kurt Busch
On the track, Kurt is a champion, he’s always calculating many different variables and factors to beat his competitors. Off the track, he applies the same mindset and work ethic. Kurt gives us a very specific example of a small variable on the race track that most drivers may not factor into their driving, that allowed him to break the speed record at Texas Motor Speedway. This kind of thinking is what separates the extraordinary apart from the ordinary. If you enjoyed today’s episode remember to subscribe in iTunes and leave us a review!
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Kurt Busch Background:
-27-time race winner in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series, taking 19 pole positions
-Currently drives the No. 41 Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas
-Raced for the most prominent team owners, manufacturers and leading teams, from Jack Roush at Roush Racing to Roger Penske and the Penske organization
-2014 in an Indycar at the 98th running of the Indy500, was rookie contender at Andretti Autosports, finish as top rookie in 6th
-Winner of Daytona 500 in 2017
-Self made millionaire by developing his racing brand
-Say hi to him at http://www.kurtbusch.com/
-Based in Las Vegas, Nevada
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Joe Fairless: Best Ever listeners, how are you doing? Welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I’m Joe Fairless, and this is the world’s longest-running daily real estate investing podcast. We only talk about the best advice ever, we don’t get into any of that fluffy stuff.
With us today, Kurt Busch. How are you doing, Kurt?
Kurt Busch: I’m doing great, man. It’s good to talk to you.
Joe Fairless: Yeah, my pleasure. Holy cow, looking forward to diving in. A little bit about Kurt, in case you’re living under a rock… Kurt is a 27-time winner in NASCAR’s Sprint Series Cup. He is the winner of the Daytona 500, and he won that in 2017, and probably most relevant to you, Best Ever listeners, he is a self-made millionaire by developing his racing brand. Based in Las Vegas, Nevada…
With that being said, Kurt, what is it like driving 200 miles an hour?
Kurt Busch: Oh, that’s my favorite part of my job. The Friday afternoons we go out there for the first practice session, and when you hit the track and go 200 and going down into that corner, that’s that exhilaration, that’s that speed, that’s that feel in the body… You can’t replicate that anywhere else, so it’s great to be teamed up with a top tier team in NASCAR, with Stewart-Haas Racing, to have Ford as my primary sponsor with the manufacture side of it… That’s the best feeling – to go 200 miles an hour into the corner, and it’s that cool experience as well that I get to talk to the kids about, and families, about how it is to be a NASCAR driver.
Joe Fairless: What do you focus on when you’re driving that speed?
Kurt Busch: The focus is the handling of the car, all four tires as far as how it grabs the race track, and you are one with the car to feel the handling of the car, and then you have the aerodynamics, and then you get into the harmonics and the field of the engine, and then once you get into the race itself, now you’re worried about air pressure, fuel mileage… There’s so many different things that you get to juggle, and really, there’s no comparison to being in that race for the 500 miles… So it’s the best feeling in the world; you go 200, and you’ve got all these responsibilities.
Joe Fairless: How do you focus on winning when you’ve got these other variables that are all important, it sounds like, that you’ve got to pay attention to? How do you focus on actually being number one?
Kurt Busch: Well, that’s my job. You have to be in the zone to know all the different categories of the race strategy, the different changing conditions out on the race track, and ultimately putting yourself in position for the win… And that’s done with preparation, that’s done with teamwork. It’s the experience level that I have, but also it’s the team and the people that I have surrounded myself with, because you can’t do it alone. There’s no single individual that’s gonna bring the win, it’s everybody.
When you’re in that zone and it’s towards the end of the race, and you’ve put yourself in that position, that’s my time, that’s my job – to execute and be making those decisions that are ahead of the other guys, and to make sure that you’re that one step ahead, knowing that you’ve got your eyes on victory lane, but it’s protecting it to keep it away from others.
Joe Fairless: For a listener who might not be as familiar with the intricacies of racing, what is an example of a shift or a decision you made towards the end where you made it to victory lane, and it was a result of that decision?
Kurt Busch: Most recently – I can give you a quick example… We’ve set a track record at Texas Motor Speedway for the fastest qualifying time on a mile and a half track.
Joe Fairless: I saw that. Congrats!
Kurt Busch: It was on average over 200 miles an hour, average. It was cool, because there were a couple kids that were standing there [unintelligible [00:05:53].17] that were family members of one of the crew guys, and I kind of gave them that wink; I said, “You know, we’re gonna go over 200 miles an hour today”, and they’re like “Whoah!”, they were all just in this moment of — he just acknowledge us. And then I was like “Guys, here’s what I’ve gotta do”, and to answer your question, it was to find that one moment and that feel – literally, I’m going full throttle into turn three, and I felt like the first few corners were perfect, and I’m knowing, I’m digesting this moment of “I’ve got this perfect lap going…”
But here was my plan – I’m in the sunshine in turn three, and you’re going full throttle and the car is just starting to drift away, it’s starting to slide up, but I knew that in turn four the shade, the grandstands were blocking the sun, and therefore I was going to find grip out of the turn four area to be able to keep it full throttle and not wash [unintelligible [00:06:46].20] and lose speed. So I was actually using weather, using the sun angle, using the shade for the grip level to complete the lap, and that’s something that maybe not a lot of drivers would gamble with, or been able to have predicted, or to be able to have that in their toolbox when it comes to finding that last bit of success.
Joe Fairless: Wow, that’s fascinating. So if the sun is blocked, then sometimes you can get more grip with the tires on the track?
Kurt Busch: Yeah, and I don’t wanna give too many secrets out there, but the drivers know that the shade and the conditions when you have cooler [unintelligible [00:07:20].23] conditions you’re gonna gain more grip… But now it’s like, man, when you’re going there and you’re sliding, you’re like “Oh no, I have to lift, I’m gonna wreck…” – no, you’ve gotta trust that the grip [unintelligible [00:07:31].01] You’ve just gotta trust that it’s gonna happen.
Joe Fairless: On that “trust it’s gonna happen” based on previous experiences and just studying, how have you applied that towards business?
Kurt Busch: Well, there’s different patterns… There’s the constant desire to succeed, and quite simply, if there’s a race to win, if there’s a check out there to go and cash, you wanna do your best job to go and get it. But as far as the business side and succeeding, I was told at an early age “If you wanna invest in something, you invest into yourself.” You go after things that you believe will better your own self, and you make decisions around that instead of trying to rely on others, because if you’re not investing in yourself, who’s going to do that?
Joe Fairless: What are some ways that you invest in yourself?
Kurt Busch: It’s a workout regimen, it’s a nutrition regimen, it’s that desire to achieve success and to go after every day with that open mind of “What can happen today? What can I achieve? What do I need to accomplish?” and it’s just that constant “Everything’s good, but I have to go and achieve it”, and I have to apply that value of that I learned from my father each and every day. Success doesn’t take a day off, let’s just go that way.
Joe Fairless: As far as the work ethic, walk us through a typical day – and ‘typical’ is always a tricky word, because there might not be a typical day, but I’d love to learn more about the work you put in on a daily basis, if you can describe that in some way…
Kurt Busch: Each day is different. There is the Friday, Saturday, Sunday around race weekend, and that’s a compartmentalized effort on what has to happen there. Travel days – those are different, on where we have to go for our next race… And then days off from the NASCAR circuit are days applied to my personal business at Kurt Busch Inc. Then it’s to the workout regimen with the different trainers that I have here in North Carolina. I have trainers down in Florida where my wife plays polo, and she has her trainers that we work with and we keep it moving around and shaking because you don’t wanna get stagnant in your workouts.
It’s honestly just a nice schedule to where my assistant Christie knows that this has to be done here, and she helps me get to there… And it could just be a simple one moment throughout the day where you know that there’s that difference maker, and you apply it. Each and every day. There’s not anything specific, there’s not a typical day, but you have to, again, surround yourself with people that are successful, and then they help me do my job, and that is to stay focused on what I’ve gotta do to help them be successful. It’s creating that aura and that element of “when you have success around you, you wanna keep that going, and you find good people to do that.”
Joe Fairless: Having people around you who are successful, how do you approach that? Basically, how do you pick your peer group?
Kurt Busch: That is a good question, I like that. And to answer that, you find trustworthy people. You find people that have those same common goals, and the work ethic, as well. I think the work ethic is the key element in finding successful people. It’s the guys that show up a half hour early, it’s the ones that stay an hour late… It isn’t necessarily just a timed clock type of situation. Those I think are the people that make a big difference in my life, because we’re always juggling things here and there and everywhere.
It’s this point when you call somebody at [5:01] and they’ve already checked out, you know?
Joe Fairless: It’s ridiculous. That’s not how the world works… Or shouldn’t be; it is, but it shouldn’t be, right?
Kurt Busch: Yeah, that’s that small difference maker, I think.
Joe Fairless: You mentioned Kurt Busch Inc – that’s your company, correct?
Kurt Busch: Yes, sir.
Joe Fairless: How do you make money with that company?
Kurt Busch: For me, we’ve got different sectors, categories, whether it’s the transportation side of things, whether it’s the aviation side… The biggest thing here at Kurt Busch Inc is we’re able to help people with a private car collection. It’s something we don’t advertise a lot, because we wanna give that white glove service to our clients… And it’s to take people’s vehicles, whether they buy them at an auto auction like [unintelligible [00:11:57].09], whether it’s word of mouth… There’s different athletes and clients that we have that have spread the word around on how we can help them with their vehicle, and it’s to provide that white glove service to take their car, and honestly just make sure that it’s at that top operating performance, and as well as safety items too, because when you buy a car at an auction, it’s not gonna be that perfect vehicle until it comes by our shop to make sure that it’s at that operating level.
Things that we’re trying to work on in the future is different developmental projects with an OEM partner. I work with Ford, and we wanna have an F150 type package, or a Mustang package… There’s gonna be different things that we do with the auto manufacturer, because frankly, we’re able to do so many different vehicles, and they can do tens of thousands of vehicles. So that’s the next step for our company.
Joe Fairless: And the acronym OEM stands for…?
Kurt Busch: With the OEM – it’s the Original Equipment Manufacturer.
Joe Fairless: Okay, got it.
Kurt Busch: That’s Ford, Dodge, Chevrolet, Toyota… An OEM partner, original equipment manufacturer, that’s when you’re really tying it into the acronym of that manufacturer in the car world, that’s when you’re trying to work with the different products that those guys provide.
Joe Fairless: How do you decide where you spend your time from a business standpoint? Because you’ve got the racing thing, and then you’ve got your company — I know there’s overlap, but you do have separate arms of that that you just described… So how do you decide where to put your focus?
Kurt Busch: Honestly, it comes from my heart, but I know that in my wallet or on the business sense of it there’s a percentage of time that needs to be spent in certain categories that are more beneficial than others. But ultimately, when you’re working and one thing bridges to the next and you find that reason for the time that you have to spend in certain categories… I mean, it could even be a golf outing that is planned where you bring in certain business partners, share that time together, and then you’re at a cocktail hour and you’re looking at what’s gonna happen to the next bit of time, the next bit of contracts, and… It’s about the people, again. The people that you’re spending your time with – it’s like, okay, you’re going here, you’re going there, you make things happen, and at the end of the day it’s because you believe in your heart that you’re making the right decisions.
So again, there’s not one single day or a typical moment that you follow; it’s that pattern that’s all around that just happens in the NASCAR world and in my business world.
Joe Fairless: You’re a self-made millionaire, and when some listeners hear that, I imagine they think “I want in on that. I wanna be a self-made millionaire, too.” What is your advice for them for how to go about doing that?
Kurt Busch: I would say persistence is how I’ve ended up in the spot that I’m in… I’m very confident in what I’ve done and in the decisions that I’ve made, but ultimately it came through the persistence side of you meet this person, and you see the category that that can lead you to. In racing there’s no step ladder that you have to just follow… Let’s just take for example in basketball. Kids take up basketball, they’re with their buddies, they’re playing, next thing you know they’re in high school ball; if you’re in high school ball, you’re trying to get to college… College ball, you wanna get to the NBA.
In racing it’s not necessarily “This step ladder is gonna take you to that, or it’s gonna take you to this”, but what I did early on in my career, it was to take the field of racing, that business side of it, and blend those two together. And the opportunities came when I knew that — we were struggling in college, literally… The books were on the backseat of my car as I’m driving to the next race. [unintelligible [00:15:57].24] was like “Man, you’ve gotta study more… This racing thing is taking over your life too much, and you’ve gotta give that up, you’ve gotta get back to the books, you’ve gotta focus.” That even happened at one of my first jobs. People were telling me “Man, this racing thing and the way that you’re so focused on it – it’s taking away from your focus at work and your work ethic.” But when those things start to take over, when people are telling you that, that’s when I knew that I had the desire that was so laser-focused on the racing side of it… That that’s really what is that persistence of trying to race and trying to do this and meet the next person and move here and shake there, and it told me that that’s what I was the best at. That’s that persistence… When people are telling you to do this, do that, and yet you know what you’re focused in on – that’s my advice; that is the next level of… When it takes over your life, that’s when you know you’ve gotta go that route.
Joe Fairless: I love that. Your first job – what was it?
Kurt Busch: My first job – my dad was like “Hey, what do you need to live in life? What’s the most important thing?” I’m like, “Um, money?” He goes “No, no, no… What’s the most important, let’s just say, thing here at the house?” and I’m like “Dad, what are you getting at? I don’t know… Like, it’s nice that the lights come on…”
Joe Fairless: Yeah, I have no clue what he’s getting at…
Kurt Busch: Electricity… What’s the most important thing? Water… I’m like “Okay… Like, that is the bare essential, dad, we need to all live with”, and he goes “Yeah, you should be a plumber.” I’ve got a guy that’s gonna help you get your first job, you’re gonna be a plumber. I’m like, “Oh, I see what he is getting at…” [laughter] That was my first job – I was a plumber.
Joe Fairless: Wow… From plumbing to racing full-time, or was there some stops in between?
Kurt Busch: The plumbing thing was honestly just to get some cash and to learn how to take orders, take directions, to be an employee… But man, it was racing, racing, racing all the time.
Joe Fairless: Got it. So it was the plumbing and then eventually it was all racing; there wasn’t another – maybe electrician, or something else in between like that.
Kurt Busch: No, it really was the business side of racing. You’re in sales, you’re in technology, you’re in management… There’s so many different categories that as a young racer I was not fully comprehending everything around me, but I was learning all those different traits, and I think that’s what’s helped me digest all the different categories to be successful and to be able to say that I’m a self-made millionaire, so to speak.
Joe Fairless: It truly is fascinating, because you just said something I wasn’t consciously aware of… The technology part of your business as an entrepreneur is very prevalent in your industry, whereas when I talk to former NFL players, NBA players – it’s a ball; there’s no technology involved there. And if they are venturing outside of NBA or NFL, but still within their sport, then there’s not a technology component unless they do something online or something like that… But with you, it’s completely integrated throughout. So you do have to have another skillset that in my opinion isn’t as typical for an athlete that needs to have — so it’s sales, technology and management. Which area would you say was your weakest starting out, and what was a mistake that you’ve made within that category?
Kurt Busch: Yeah, in racing you start out because you’re at that elementary level, you have a tape measure. Nowadays you have your laptop with simulation models and you’re plugging in algorithms and equations to arrive at the best setup as far as what you’re gonna apply to the car. That’s a quick timeline, of how you have to adapt. It simply keeps continuing to evolve, and I think that’s what everybody sees in their lives as well – if you don’t evolve, then you’re gonna get left behind.
To answer your question, I think I’m the weakest in the people management area. I think that with the job and the world and the lifestyle that I live and what’s required of me, being here, being there, taking care of that project, going 200 miles an hour, this, that – it’s a matter of making sure that I create that formal management style and to be able to have that human resources type attitude, that’s something that’s difficult because of the moving and the shaking that always happens around the business that I’m in. So I would say the management side is my weakest area.
Joe Fairless: Is there something where that not being your strongest has burned you in the past?
Kurt Busch: It might have not burned me, but it might have stunted some of the growth, and the ability to capitalize on other categories, and being able to take a foundation that’s sitting there, and the success from the racing and the different wins, “How do we go bigger? How do we make it greater? How do you become that top A+ level?” I think that that’s where I’ve had great success, I’m proud of what I’ve done, I wouldn’t change anything. Just the bumps in the road that everybody goes through… But [unintelligible [00:21:16].18] in that top A+ level, that’s still what I’m trying to achieve and to do, and that might have been some of the categories where there wasn’t a full fulfillment.
Joe Fairless: And what do you do to optimize that part of the process, to then make it more of a strength on the level of the sales and technology part?
Kurt Busch: I think, again, it gets back to the people that you surround yourself with, and there’s only literally 24 hours in the day, there’s only so much that can be done, and you have to put people in certain categories, places, and let them strive and make you better, and bring more out within you as you’re putting them into position for success.
Joe Fairless: I ask this question to all guests, and this is knowing that the audience, people listening, the Best Ever listeners – they’re primarily real estate investors, but we’re all entrepreneurs. As real estate investors we’re an entrepreneur. As a winner of the Daytona 500, you’re also an entrepreneur with your business, so here’s the question… What is your best advice ever for real estate investors and entrepreneurs?
Kurt Busch: You know, that’s the age-old question on when you have real estate, where you have the ability to make money in real estate, or you’re looking to go into that sector, or if you’re a top person in real estate, a business developer, whether it’s commercial, residential – the way that I have seen most success happen is you have all the different layers taken care of. So if you’re a business, you use a different business or an LLC to buy the lot; that way you own the piece of real estate. Then you have a different business that creates the building, the structure itself, to be able to make the money. That way you don’t have all your eggs in one basket.
Now that you’ve got that piece of real estate, you’ve got the business going. Then once you’ve got the business going, now you’re looking at the next piece of real estate and how to flip and grow and go from there, but you’re in all the different categories. You have it at the land, and you have it on the business side.
Joe Fairless: We asked the Best Ever listeners if they had any questions for you, and we’ve got a bunch of them, but I’ve narrowed it down to just a handful, hand-picked, so we’re gonna go into the Lightning Round. Your questions don’t have to be lightning quick, but I just called it the Lightning Round just because it sounds cool. Are you ready for the Best Ever Lightning Round?
Kurt Busch: Oh yeah, bring it.
Joe Fairless: Alright, cool. First, a quick word from our Best Ever partners.
Joe Fairless: Alright, Kurt, here we go. Let’s see… This one is from Stan in Portland, Oregon – “Does being one of the best drivers in the world affect how you react when in traffic with us normal folk?”
Kurt Busch: [laughs] Thank you for the compliment, but in all honesty, my wife says I drive like a grandpa. [laughter] [unintelligible [00:25:03].17] on the roadway that I’m a good driver, but the key on the regular roadways – look ahead; be able to predict when that light’s gonna turn red, and that way you’re already in position for success.
Joe Fairless: Is that applicable to racing at your level, too?
Kurt Busch: It’s one of the first things that my dad taught me, was to look ahead, be able to predict what’s gonna happen, know to keep your momentum up, that way you’re not just hard on the breaks to stop for that red light that’s coming up… That way you go “Oh, look, it’s gonna turn green now”, and be able to accelerate through, and you’ve now saved yourself some fuel mileage.
Joe Fairless: I’m going to the racing part… When you’re racing and you’re just starting out, and the advice from your dad is look ahead, and that will help you predict what will happen – when you’re just starting out, how do you have the experience to predict what will happen while you’re looking ahead?
Kurt Busch: It is difficult. You have to find those small different difference makers, and it takes mistakes to be able to realize that. It could be just as simple as “Oh man, I really thought that that light was gonna turn green, and then the next thing you know it didn’t”, and boom, you’re right on top of that guy in front of you.
The key bit of advice that my dad taught me, or that could be applicable to this question and this situation is you can’t stare at your front bumper when you’re driving; you have to look further out, you have to digest things in your peripheral vision, which is to be able to absorb your surroundings and make better decisions that way. If you’re too laser-focused on one issue, you’re not seeing what’s around you.
Joe Fairless: Let’s see… This is kind of a long one; this is Jason in Chicago. He says — maybe your Wikipedia page says this, or your bio… He says “Your bio says ‘Revered as a driver that is highly technical and demands the best from his team, Kurt is known for raising the bar for everyone around him, from mechanics to [unintelligible [00:27:03].03] partners in NASCAR and in the industry as a whole.’ The question is what is an example of this?”
Kurt Busch: Well, it’s being able to go to that next level. If you get complacent, you’re only gonna get those complacent results. So within that definition and what he’s asking, is that I strive to bring out the best in the people around me, and when you do that with people, they’re gonna bring out the best in you. So if you find results that aren’t the results that you want, it’s a matter of going after the next step and trying to help that person, or have that person help you find that next best result, and it’s done through communication, it’s done through the ability to reach out and connect with somebody and bring that next level out of them.
Joe Fairless: Christina in San Jose – “What are you most proud of?”
Kurt Busch: What am I most proud of? I think it’s the fact that life around me and the people that are around me are my favorite things. It’s to be able to wake up and go “You know, I have a nice house, nice car…”, but it’s the people that I know that are on my favorites list in my phone, and the chance to go to lunch with somebody or to go to dinner and to spend that time, or to be able to go on a ski vacation with somebody, and those are those close family members or friends – those are the things that I’m the most proud of.
Joe Fairless: And this is Chris in Boston – “What are your 5-10 year goals?”
Kurt Busch: To finish up strong in my NASCAR career is the number one goal. To start a family with my wife Ashley, to have children, and to be able to show those experience and to share those experiences with my young ones and to have the business side of things where the runway is extended beyond NASCAR racing, and to do things with the manufacturers, with my different sponsors (Monster Energy, we’re always having fun) and just being able to use the experience and the PhD that I’ve experienced in the NASCAR business world, and to do it outside of that.
Joe Fairless: What’s the best ever way you like to give back?
Kurt Busch: Time with the military, time with those who have fought for our freedoms, all the different branches of the military – air force, army, marines, the navy… All the different branches of people that have provided for our freedom – it’s so easy for me to just go by and say thanks to them, whether it’s at our coffee shop here at Moose Lodge, or if it’s at the race track… When we have all the different top dignitaries that have come to enjoy the NASCAR experience, I just always go by to say thanks and to appreciate the sacrifices that they make.
Joe Fairless: And lastly, what’s the best place the Best Ever listeners can learn more about what you’ve got going on?
Kurt Busch: The best place? Honestly, it’s the race track… To go and experience NASCAR, that’s the best experience that you can get; you get the smell, you get the taste and the feel and the vibrations and the speed and the energy at the race tracks.
Joe Fairless: What does it smell like?
Kurt Busch: You know what, it smells like gas burning, it smells like tires burning, you smell that rubber, and then you’ve got, of course, the midway action, with [unintelligible [00:30:21].11] and the whole hot dogs cooking… That’s the best atmosphere that there is. Come at the race track live.
Joe Fairless: I haven’t had lunch yet and I’m starving now, after that description from you. Well, Kurt, thank you for being on the show. This truly was a conversation about persistence, number one; the story with how your dad suddenly got around to you starting out as a plumber, and then your persistence in that job as you evolve in your career – you were really focused on the racing.
I love the quote that you said when people were telling you that you were spending a little bit too much time on racing – well, that was your thing, and that’s really when as any entrepreneur, if we’re spending a lot of time on something, then that should be an indicator of us wanting to continue to do it, because you get a reward in public for what you do in private… That’s something that Tony Robbins says, and it certainly applies here.
And also people – this is a story about people, how you surround yourself with people, as you mentioned, who you trust based on experience and research.
Then lastly I’d say anticipation. I love the story about coming around that corner, blocking the sun, there’s shade, and you can get more grip on your tires, and at 200 miles an hour – you can still drive that in confidence, versus thinking that you need to slow down a little bit. So anticipating it based on the trust and the research.
Thanks for being on the show, Kurt. I hope you have a best ever day, and we’ll talk to you soon.
Kurt Busch: Thank you, I appreciate it again. A subliminal message that I didn’t even know that I was portraying when I was young (I put it on my resume), that objective in life to be in the top one percentile of whatever racing category I was gonna get into. That works in every category.
Joe Fairless: I love that. Thanks a lot, Kurt.
Kurt Busch: You got it. Thanks!Follow Me: