Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Inside Track with Danny Bopp

NASCAR drivers come from all over the country and work their way up to the higher series via various routes to reach their goal.  Danny Bopp is no different.

Originally from Lonedell, Missouri, Danny has been racing since the age of eleven in go-karts throughout the Midwest.  After he moved to North Carolina at fourteen, he competed in the Legends Cars, USAC Midgets, and the ARCA Racing Series. 

“My father, Glenn Bopp, taught and coached me (and still does) to be an extremely smooth driver.  When I first began racing go karts at age eleven, he designed a dirt track on our property in Missouri for me to practice.”

“Before my time, he owned a business called Bopp Chassis that built some of the most winning short track race cars in North America. With that, he mentored many great drivers such as Dick Trickle, Gary Ballough, Tim Richmond, Ken Schrader, Mark Martin, and Rusty Wallace.  I studied their driving styles; how aggressive they were to their competition and how they maintained consistency by ‘hitting their marks.’”
“At an early age, I would watch the in-car cameras during races to see the steadiness of driver’s hands and feet.  I learned the three most important aspects to be smooth; steering wheel, gas, and brake.”

Danny enjoys the fact that every lap is different; “The temperature of the track, weather, tire compound, and my own personal focus and endurance all play factors and make it a very unpredictable challenge.”  He also feels that racing is the only true team sport because, “You have to put trust on other people performing at their best to put together a machine that can create failure at any moment.  In racing, a driver's performance is only as good as the race car itself.”
Racing presents challenges for each driver.  Danny is no different.  “The hardest part of racing to me are the endless hours worked on a race car and a strong possibility of no return.  Because race cars are put to the limit every time they are brought to the track, parts constantly have to be checked.  Even the most well organized race teams such as Hendrick Motorsports have engine failures or other mechanical failures that cannot be explained.”

Drivers, crew members, fans, owners all have a commonality:  there is something that they would all change if they ran NASCAR for a day.  Danny said, "As a health ambassador, I would look to bring in many health food companies not yet introduced to the sport. By this, I would like to enhance the overall health of the sport.  Also, I would like NASCAR to be the leading front in green technology in racing. I would not only test alternative fuels, but implement the fuels in races as well, without sacrificing the excitement of the sport. Due to the changes and higher costs set on to the teams during this change, NASCAR would provide funds for these changes to the teams." 

"There are drivers I respect in the sport such as Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin, but each driver’s journey is unique.  Motorsports is not a traditional sport in that no college or university provides a scholarship or racing team.  It is a family oriented sport that, at times, can be very difficult to cultivate a career.  I am looking to enhance many aspects of racing throughout my career for both myself, and the large community of NASCAR fans that are true to the sport.  I wish to be a strong and positive role model for drivers looking to advance in various forms of racing as well," said Danny when speaking about modeling his career after any NASCAR drivers. 

While on-track, Danny has low tolerance and knows that there is a fine line between racing too hard and just being competitive.  He tries to stay between those lines every race while still remaining respectful to his competitors.  "I give a driver blocking me one lap before I make a bold move to pass or tap their bumper going into the corner.  I have spun out very few cars, but I am aggressive.  If you are not aggressive, twenty drivers behind you are."

For many drivers, the only thing they think about is winning - it's the only thing that's important to them.  "I meditate to myself while strapping into the race car.  Everything on my mind is completely cleared and the only thing I am thinking about is the race.  The car becomes not only a machine, but a part of me.  With mental endurance comes physical endurance as well.  I train very hard to stay fit and practice for endurance races.  There are no breaks, whistles or time outs," Danny continued, "however, out of the race car is very important as well.  In today’s racing world, a driver must be a professional at all times.  He/she must know how to conduct themselves and practice patience in stressful situations." 

Many qualities combined create a successful driver:  good communication skills, commitment, and a passion for the sport are just among a few of the necessary qualities.  "Racing is an extremely volatile sport.  Having the commitment to stay in the sport and become successful proves to everyone, including yourself, how professional and determined you can be.  Becoming a successful race car driver requires an absolute passion and love for the sport.  Usually early on a driver realizes at some point racing is not a hobby, but a part, if not all of their life.  For me, racing is everything I stand for and I will never give up."

Now, at the age of twenty-seven, Danny races in a NASCAR series in Southern California and plans to be racing in the Camping World Truck Series by 2013.  

To learn more about Danny, check out his website at  Also, to follow him on Twitter, @DannyBopp.  

I just wanted to say a quick 'thank you' to Danny for taking the time to answer these questions!

**All photos are property of Danny Bopp**

1 comment:

  1. Awesome article! Thanks to SHA I am now a fan of yours! Loved the racing w. Paige! Look forward to watching you on the track.