NASCAR Drivers' College Degrees Revealed

NASCAR Drivers With Degrees

See which NASCAR drivers earned a college degree.

By Chris Kyle

Chase Mattioli is no ordinary college kid. A junior at New York's Fordham University, he also spends a lot of time driving race cars.

Mattioli, who competes on the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing's (NASCAR's) Nationwide Series, is no ordinary driver either.

Until recently, not many NASCAR drivers had a college education. In fact, the late Alan Kulwicki, who won the Winston Cup Championship in 1992, was the first college graduate to win a NASCAR championship. Kulwicki studied mechanical engineering at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.

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College remains the exception and not the rule for a sport that has a minimum age of 18 for drivers who race in NASCAR's Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Craftsman Truck series.

"I am basically the anti-stereotype for a NASCAR driver," Mattioli told WBGO, a Newark, New Jersey, public radio station in February 2011. "That's one of the reasons I want to do it. I want to show that you don't have to be a good old boy from the South to get up in there. Anybody can do it. They can go to school, they can own their team. All it takes is hard work and effort and that's what really counts."

Mattioli, who is studying business administration at Fordham, won't become the first member of the NASCAR family to earn a degree - and it's safe to say he won't be the last to make a pit stop in school either.

Keep reading to find out if your favorite driver has ever donned a college cap and gown...

NASCAR DRIVERS WITH A BACHELOR'S DEGREE

  • Ryan Newman, who earned his engineering degree at Purdue University, is the only active full-time driver with a bachelor's degree in the Sprint Cup, NASCAR's top racing series.

Newman credits his degree in vehicle structure engineering with helping him succeed on the track. He graduated from college in 2001 and was named NASCAR's Rookie of the Year in 2002.

"I wish that more drivers had an education," Newman told USA Today just days before winning the Daytona 500 in 2008. "People aren't wanting to wait for kids to be out of college to hire them to be a race car driver. I wish that weren't the case. I wish that was some kind of stipulation."

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  • Often mistaken for Indy superstar Danica Patrick, Leilani Münter is a Lucky Jeans model and driver on NASCAR's ARCA Series.

"I'm just as passionate about the environment as I am about racing," Münter told the Charlotte Observer in 2009. Before becoming a race car driver, the self-described "vegetarian hippie-chick race car driver" earned her biology degree from the University of California, San Diego.

  • Bill Lester, who earned his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California, Berkeley, was a project manager at Hewlett Packard before becoming the only full-time African American driver on NASCAR's Craftsman Truck Series.

Lester competed with the series until 2007 and now races in the Rolex Sports Car Series.

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NASCAR DRIVERS WITH AN ASSOCIATE'S DEGREE

  • Prior to following in his famous father's footsteps, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. worked as a mechanic and earned his associate's degree in automotive technology at Mitchell Community College in Statesville, North Carolina.

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  • Brett Bodine, a former Winston Cup competitor who now drives the pace car for Sprint Cup events, earned his associate's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of New York at Alfred in 1979.
  • Jennifer Jo Cobb, who made her NASCAR Busch Series debut in 2004, earned her associate's degree in pre-journalism and has worked as a reporter and motivational speaker while continuing her racing career. Cobb finished sixth in the Camping World Truck Series race in Daytona in 2011 - the highest finish by a woman in Truck Series history.

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