50 Highest-Paid Race Car Drivers of All Time
When most people think about the highest-paid athletes they usually don't mention NASCAR drivers. However, in the span of their careers, NASCAR drivers can earn a hefty amount of money. Even some drivers who aren't well known have accumulated a good amount of money by racing for their respective teams. If you've ever wondered how much a NASCAR driver can earn in their career, scroll through this gallery and find out who the 50 highest-paid NASCAR drivers of all time are.
Niki Lauda was an Australian aviation executive and Formula One driver. He was regarded as one of the pioneering Formula One drivers and was quite famous in the mid-1900s when he won three World Championships.
He was also involved in several crazy crashes at the German Grand Prix, and although he didn’t die in the 1976 crash, the incident left him scarred. Despite the fact that he started racing with a bank loan, Lauda earned over $200 million through racing before his death in 2019, and he was the chairman of the Mercedes Grand Prix.
Jeff Gordon ruled the late 1990s with a string of victories that made him the NASCAR driver with the most victories in the modern era. He is a three-time Daytona 500 winner, five-time Brickyard 400 winner, and four-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion.
His career has been characterized by hard work and an uncommon determination to succeed that has seen him earn over $20 million per annum. As if that wasn't enough, he is currently the Vice-Chairman for Hendrick Motorsports, where he is continuing to help the sport reach mainstream popularity.
Connie Kalitta’s racing days are behind him as he’s now an executive, but we can’t help looking back at his career as a former drag racer. Connie became a professional drag racer in the 1950s when he was known as "The Bounty Hunter," and he continued racing until the 1990s.
Connie will forever be remembered as the first racer to reach 200mph during a Hot Rod Race. He was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1992 because of that, and also because of the ten National Hot Rod Association events he won. Connie currently has a net worth of $200 million, earning around $20 million a year thanks to his time on the track.
Before he retired in 2007, Kimi was one of the most experienced F1 drivers and a World Champion. Before making his professional debut in late 2000, he had competed in less than 30 amateur races, but that was enough to land him a test run with the Sauber Formula One team where he impressed many with his confident approach and pace.
He placed second in the championship in 2003 and 2005. Despite his awkward relationship with the media, he was one of the world’s highest-paid athletes at his peak and has earned over $250 million throughout his career.
No one ruled Formula 1 better than Michael Schumacher in the early 2000s, yet Fernando Alonso unseated the Ferrari legend as the undisputed king of Formula 1. Alonso's performances on the tracks were characterized by a combination of intelligent tactics, eye-popping speed, and incredible attention to detail.
Alonso is the youngest F1 world champion, polesitter, and race winner. He earned a whopping $33 million in his final F1 season alone. He’s also fiercely driven to win races, and all that drive helped him shatter several records from the early stages of his career.
This man needs little introduction as one of the most extensive auto racing and motorsports names. He has been utterly dominant in Formula 1 for about a decade and has won fans over in that span with his fan-centric conduct and blistering speed.
Hamilton equaled Michael Schumacher’s seven championships record with his Formula 1 drivers’ title triumph in 2020, and he came close to adding another the following season. Hamilton is also one of the world’s highest-paid athletes, with an annual salary of $50 million.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is one of two children of legendary stock car driver Ralph Dale Earnhardt to become a NASCAR driver, but you can certainly make a case for him being the most successful. Earnhardt’s breakout year was the year 2000 when he earned the nickname "Pied Piper."
Despite only being in the top three of the NASCAR standings once, Earnhardt Jr. earned over $400 million throughout his career as a result of his popularity with sponsors and fans. He was voted the most famous driver for fourteen consecutive years and has worked with brands like Wrangler, Chevrolet, and Nationwide.
Eddie Jordan is a former race car driver with a history of promoting young drivers such as Eddie Irvine and Michael Schumacher. He set up his Jordan team in 1980 after retiring due to several severe accidents during his career as a race car driver.
His team was victorious in Formula 3 in 1987, 1989, and 1990. Eddie eventually sold the Jordan Grand Prix in 2005 to take up a career as an analyst with BBC Formula 1. He was inducted into the Irish Motorhall Hall of Fame in 2012. Eddie is currently worth $450 million due to his time in racing.
Michael Schumacher’s name has already come up a couple of times in other entries because he holds nearly all scoring records in the book despite his sometimes questionable ethics. The German racing champ is a 7-time World Champion and is considered one of the best race car drivers in the world.
After winning the German F3 championship, Mercedes hired him to drive for them; Michael arrived at Formula 1 with a bang the following year and finished seventh, and qualified for the Belgian Grand Prix. All of those achievements lead to Michael being worth over $600 million.
Kyle Larson drives for Hendrick Motorsports in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, but he has found the most success in dirt track racing where he has won events such as the Chili Bowl Nationals, and the Kings Royal Knoxville Nationals.
Larson has a history of winning at NASCAR as well, he was the NASCAR Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year in 2013, the 2014 Cup Series Rookie of the Year, and the 2012 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Champion. Larson has a net worth of $12 million, and an estimated salary of $10 million per annum.
Jimmie Johnson is a professional race car driver who competed in the NASCAR Cup Series from 2002 to 2020, winning seven championships. He’s also won the Daytona 500 event twice throughout his career and earned over $160 million in career earnings and endorsements.
At one point, he was the highest-earning NASCAR driver in the world; he started out as the Rookie of the Year in 1998 while driving for Herzog Motorsports before making his debut in the Winston Cup Series in 2001 before moving to Hendrick Motorsports.
She’s one of the few women to make a name for themselves in American drag racing, but make no mistake, Alexis earned all the racing rep she has. Her passion for speed was born during a ride in a V12 Sports Car with her father, and soon after, she became the second woman to win a national event in the top alcohol division.
Alexis debuted as an amateur racer in the NHRA Super Gas category in Fontana, and not even a year after her debut, she won the Sportsman Nationals. DeJoria is worth more than $100 million as a result of her exploits in motor racing.
Throughout his remarkable career in motor racing, Eddie Irvine has competed in 148 races, won four major races, and earned over $120 million. As a child, he became passionate about motorsports while watching the British Grand Prix from the sidelines.
Eddie soon decided to pursue a career in professional racing and made his debut in 1983 before progressing to Formula Three in 1988. He was signed as Michael Schumacher’s partner by Ferrari in 1996, but his best season came three years later when he placed third in the Drivers’ Championship and won four races.
Sebastian Vettel is a legendary Formula 1 driver from Germany who has driven for Aston Martin, Red Bull, BMW Sauber, and Ferrari. He’s best known for his four consecutive titles from 2010 to 2013, where he set the records for consecutive race wins and race wins in a single season.
He was the youngest World Champion when he won the World Championship as a 23-year-old. Vettel competed against Lewis Hamilton for years after joining Ferrari in 2015 but often came up second-best. Throughout his 14 seasons, he earned over $300 million during the course of his career.
British Formula One race car driver Jenson Button made his Formula One debut in 2000, and he has driven for McLaren, Benetton, Williams, Bar, Honda, and Renault throughout his career. Before his retirement in 2017, Button had driven for McLaren for seven years.
He began racing at eight before competing in the British Formula Ford Championship and the British Formula Three Championship. Jenson won his first Grand Prix in 2006, and three years later, he won the World Drivers’ Championship. He is worth a staggering $150 million in career earnings and endorsements.
Mario is a legendary race car driver best known for being one of only two drivers to come first in Formula One, World Sportscar Championship, NASCAR, and IndyCar races. He’s so famous that Americans have come to associate his name with speed, and rightly so, as he is one of the most successful drivers in NASCAR history.
Mario had to pretend to be a 21-year-old to compete in his first amateur race before progressing to professional race car driving and enjoying a long and fulfilling career. That career saw him earn a respectable $130 million.
As a four-time Formula One Driver's Champion, French race car driver Alain Prost has made a name for himself in drag racing and motorsports circles. He also recorded the most Grand Prix victories from 1987 to 2001, and in 1999, he was recognized with the World Sports Award of the Century in the Motor Sports category.
He began winning while competing in the junior European ranks, winning both the European and French championships before proceeding to race for the Renault Team at the French Grand Prix. He is currently worth $100 million, which he earned via prize money and sponsorships.
Jody Schecter is one of South Africa’s foremost representatives in the motorsport world. He earned over $100 million throughout his career and is best known for his ten wins and the 1979 Formula One World Drivers’ Championship.
Jody has driven for the likes of Ferrari and McLaren throughout his career; he won the 1981 World Superstars competition. After he retired from racing, Jody founded a firearm training simulator company that works with security organizations and law enforcement agencies.
Martin Brundle might have retired from race car driving and motorsports, but his achievements will be remembered for ages. He competed in Formula One for most of his career, winning the 1988 World Sportscar Championship and scoring record points.
Martin also won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1990, and the incredible thing about Brundle is that he was already a TV commentator for the Lions, the BBC, and ITV Sports before he got behind the wheel. He earned over $100 million throughout his career.
Ralf Schumacher is Michael Schumacher’s sibling, and like his brother, he made a name for himself on the race track. Michael and Ralf are the only brothers in Formula One history to win races. And though he's not worth as much as his brother, he still made $100 million throughout his career.
Ralf began racing karts when he was young and progressed to competing in the Formula Nippon Series and the German Formula Three Championship. He placed sixth in the Grand Prix championship two years after making his professional debut. Ralf won his first Formula One event in 2001 and improved to sixth place in the tournament.
Rubens is a Brazilian race car driver best known for competing in Formula One from 1993 to 2011. In that span, he won 11 Grand Prix events and 68 podiums. He was Michael Schumacher’s teammate for half a decade while driving for Ferrari, which lead to an astonishing career where he made just around $110 million.
He was the runner-up at the championship in 2002 and 2003, and he was also the second runner-up in 2001 and 2009. Rubens is also known for tallying the 11th most points total in the history of Formula One. He became the chairman of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association in 2010 due to his wealth of experience.
Throughout his career, Nigel Mansell has won the CART Indy Car World Series and the Formula One World Championship. He made history by winning the CART title in his debut, becoming the first race car driver to do so in the process. He earned roughly around $90 million in his career.
Nigel was an F1 driver for 15 eventful seasons before moving to CART; he remains one of the most successful British race car drivers with his 31 triumphs. He’s also featured on the Formula One all-time winner's list and as a result, he’s one of the non-US inductees into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.
Tony Stewart is an American businessman and former NASCAR race car driver best known for his accolades and achievements as a NASCAR driver. Stewart won the NASCAR Cup Series three times and had already assembled his racing team when he won his last title.
In 2014, he retired to oversee his Superstar Racing Experience team, yet he still won another title. As a driver, Tony won an IndyCar championship and a NASCAR championship, a feat no other race car driver has managed. He earned over $50 million throughout his career.
Bobby Rahal is an American racing team owner and former driver that won 24 CART open-wheel series, three championships, and the 1986 Indianapolis 500. Bobby’s father, Graham Rahal, was a driver for the A1 Grand Prix team of Lebanon, so Bobby was inspired to compete in motorsports from a young age.
He placed second at the 1977 Formula Atlantic championship shortly after he became a professional racer, and he was revered until he retired in 1998. With a career that saw him earn $80 million, Rahal was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2004.
Danica is another fierce race car driver and the only woman to win in an IndyCar Series race. She’s regarded as the most successful female in the American open-wheel era. When she placed third at the 2009 Indianapolis 500, no other female had managed a finish that high.
Therefore, it was only fitting, that she earned over $10 million per annum at her peak, and she snagged up a couple of lucrative endorsement deals with brands such as Tissot, Coca-Cola, Nationwide Insurance, and Chevrolet. Not to mention she was also featured in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition in 2008.
British Formula One personality David Coulthard has a diverse portfolio in the sport as a race car driver, journalist, and commentator. Like other racing champs, David began racing karts before becoming a Formula One driver and in 2001, he was the runner-up at the 2001 Formula One World Drivers’ Championship.
Coulthard became a Formula One driver in 1994 and immediately began competing in the Formula One World Championship. Throughout his career as a race car driver, Couthlard earned north of $80 million, and when he retired, he became a popular TV analyst.
Kyle Busch took a familiar path as other racers by assembling his racing team once he retired from racing cars. Kyle grew up around cars in his family garage and began to race automobiles as a teenager; he became famous after winning over 65 legends car races.
Kyle’s brother, Kurt, is also a race car driver and the 2004 Sprint Cup Series winner. Kyle has the most wins in a NASCAR season and a host of other records. His racing team, Kyle Busch Motorsports, owns several tracks in the Camping World Truck Series. With his salary and endorsements, Kyle earned around $50 million in his career.
Edwards made his debut in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in 2002, and he enjoyed some success in his debut season, allowing him to compete in the Craftsman Series in 2003. Carl became famous by winning a couple of races and the Rookie of the Year award as well.
2005 was particularly good for him as he won his first NEXTEL Cup Series race and his first Busch series, which were held on the same track. After a couple of unremarkable seasons, Carl had his best year in 2008 and remained a force in NASCAR until his retirement in 2017. He earned over $90 million throughout his remarkable career.
Dale Earnhardt is a former race car driver and team owner that competed in the NASCAR Cup Series from 1975 to 2001. He enjoyed a remarkable career as a NASCAR driver, winning about 76 Cup races and seven Cup championships before being killed in a crash at the Daytona 500 in 2001.
Dale was a formidable NASCAR driver in the 1990s, he won four Winston Cup titles and nine race victories. He earned over $70 million before his death in the crash, and his son, Dale Earnhardt Jr., is one of the most successful NASCAR drivers ever.
American race car driver Ryan Newman made a name for himself as a professional racer in the NASCAR Cup Championships. Newman won the Brickyard 400 in 2013, the Daytona 500 in 2008, and The Winston Cup in 2002. Because of his achievements he earned a respectable $50 million in his career.
Ryan has been associated with the Richard Childress Racing team, which he drove for in the Monster Energy NASCAR, and the Automation Chevrolet Impala for Stewart Hass Racing. He’s best known for being one of the few active NASCAR drivers with a college degree courtesy of his B.S. in vehicle structure engineering from Purdue University.
Nico Rosberg is a former race car driver from Germany and the son of Keke Rosberg, a racer and world champion. Like his father, Nico began his professional racing career in Finland before driving for Williams F1 and Mercedes AMG Petronas in Formula One.
His career as a Formula One Championship race car driver lasted for ten years until his retirement in 2016; he won the GP2 Series in that span. Nico won the World Championship at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in his final season before retirement, making over $15 million in earnings.
Lance Stroll is a professional race car driver best known for his success on the race tracks in the early stages of his career. Lance was associated with the Ferrari Driver Academy in the early 2010s, competing in the Italian F4 Championships and the Florida Winter Series.
He won the Italian F4 Championships in 2014, the Toyota Racing Series Championship a year after, and the FIA European Formula 3 Championship in 2016. It is reported that Lance makes around $3 million annually; thus far he's earned around $50 million in his career.
American NASCAR driver and champion, Kasey Kahne was only a teenager when he began racing sprint cars at the Deming Speedway. From there, he worked his way up to the United States Auto Club, which is one of the sanctioning bodies of auto racing in the United States.
Kasey currently competes in the Sprint Cup Series as a member of Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 5 Farmers Insurance Group/Quaker State car. In addition to his career as a professional race car driver, Kahne is also a team owner and actively participates in charitable efforts. He earned an estimated $50 million throughout his career.
Jacques Villeneuve is known for being an amateur musician and Canadian automobile race car driver that earned a whopping $110 million in earnings and endorsements during his career. Talk about an early start, Jacques let his mother know he wanted to be a racer when he was only 5 years old.
His father is Formula One driver Gilles Villeneuve, so a passion for speed was passed down to Jacques from a young age and manifested as he first raced in a 100cc kart at 13. From there he went on to have an illustrious career winning the 1995 PPG Indy Car World Series and the 1995 Indianapolis 500.
The Vancouver-born Greg Biffle is a professional NASCAR driver that rose to prominence in 1995. He kicked off his career in short track racing before making his NASCAR debut in the 1996 National Division, where he won the Most Popular Driver Award.
Two years later, he competed in the Craftsman Truck Series, and in 2001, he joined the Busch Series. Greg won 19 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, 16 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and 20 NASCAR Nationwide Series. All of those achievements lead to him amassing a net worth of $50 million.
Dario Franchitti is a retired professional race car driver that earned over $50 million in earnings and endorsements throughout his professional racing career. He began his career in the 2003 IndyCar series. He won the IndyCar Series in 2007, 2009, 2010, and 2011; Franchitti also won the Indianapolis 500 thrice.
Still, He didn’t find much success until he won the Indianapolis 500 in 2007 and was subsequently named the Sports Personality of the Year by BBC Scotland. An accident caused him to retire in 2013. However, after his retirement, Dario became a commentator for Formula E's live world feed broadcast.
Cale Yarborough was more passionate about football than motorsports in his younger years, but despite being a star football athlete, he became drawn to the thrills of high-speed races and would often sneak in to see NASCAR races. That interest soon led him to pick up racing himself, and in 1957, he raced for the first time at the Southern 500.
However, it was in 1966 that he found the most success, as he won six major events and finished in the top 20 for the year. Cale racked up over 80 wins and 319 Top Tens throughout his career. Cale Yarborough's net worth is just around $50 million, safe to say he made the right career choice.
Bill Simpson pioneered the racing safety business after he retired from his career as a race car driver. He started in the USAC Championship Car Series and Formula SCCA racing as a race car driver. In 1974, he competed in the Indianapolis 500 event and finished 13th.
At 18 years old, Simpson was involved in a crash that left him with broken arms and made him start deliberating on driver safety. He soon built a cross-form parachute prototype to help improve the security of drag cars at high speed. With his newfound venture and career earnings, Simpson is worth a respectable $5 million.
Sebastian Loeb is a French rallycross driver and professional rally racer that won nine consecutive World Rally Championships from 2004 to 2012, making him the most successful driver in the history of the World Rally Championship.
After completing his debut at the 2002 World Rally Championship, he won three WRC events, and his reputation grew. Sebastien was the French Sportsman of the Year in 2007 and 2009, and he’s also a three-time Race of Champions winner. Loeb is worth an estimated $55 million.
Jeff Burton was one of the most prominent race car drivers on the Richard Childress Racing team. He won 21 cup series throughout his career, including the Winston Cup Series in 1993, which earned him the NASCAR Rookie of the Year title the following season.
Those triumphs only led to more wins, as Jeff would soon win the Texas Motor Speedway’s Interstate Batteries 500 and the Jiffy Lube 300 for three consecutive seasons. Jeff has over 240 top ten finishes and six poles to his name. All those victories paved the path to Jeff earning $55 million.
The Finnish-born Heikki Kovalainen began to compete in kart races in 1991, and he did so until 2000, coming up second in the 1999 and 2000 Finnish Formula A Championship. In 2000, he won the Paris-Bercy Elf Masters and the Nordic championship.
Heikki then made his professional debut in the British Formula Renault Championship and won the Rookie of the Year Award. He was the 100th driver to win a Formula One Grand Prix, and as a result of endorsements and earnings, he earned more than $5 million per annum.
American professional stock car race car driver Matt Kenseth is best known for winning the Daytona 500 in 2009 and 2012. After competing in the NASCAR Busch Series, he made his debut in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series and was the Rookie of the Year in 2000.
Kenseth won his first championship in 2003 and was invited to the International Race of Champions the following season. He competes in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series, and his son is also a stock car driver. His son will have a huge head start since his father has a net worth of $60 million for him to work with.
Kurt Busch is a professional race car driver who earned over $90 million in sponsorships and earnings over his racing career. Like any other successful race car driver, Kurt also started his career in kart racing before entering his first motorsport competition as a teenager.
He rose to prominence after standing for the injured Chris Trickle and winning the NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Series. Kurt experienced a career turnaround in 2002, and the following season, he had twelve top 5 finishes, twenty top 10 finishes, and won four races.
Richard Petty enjoyed a long career as a race car driver; he competed in the NASCAR Grand National and Winston Cup Series for over four decades, winning 200 races and becoming the first driver in history to win seven Cup Series championships. Those 40 years earned him a net worth of $60 million.
He’s also known for his record 127 poles and 700 top-ten finishes from over 1,000 starts. Richard was a member of his high school football team, but he began competing in NASCAR after his 21st birthday, and in his second season, he was named the NASCAR Rookie of the Year.
Denny Hamlin is a prolific NASCAR race driver, and one of the highest-paid race car drivers in the world. He’s worth an estimated $65 million and earned north of $10 million per year at his peak.
Denny also started by racing karts before landing a contract, driving in the 2005 Busch Series, and competing in several Nextel races. At the 2010 Darlington Raceway, he made history by becoming the first driver to win the Nationwide Series events and the Sprint Cup.
Martin raced on dirt in his younger years before working his way up to the ASA racing series, where he quickly made his presence felt. Martin was the Rookie of the Year in 1977 and subsequently won four championships from the 20 or so races he competed in.
He raced on the NASCAR circuit for the first time in 1981 but didn’t find his stride until 1984. Martin has since won 49 National Series Races and 40 Sprint Cup races throughout his career, earning over $70 million.
Kevin Harvick is a NASCAR driver known for competing in the Camping World Truck Series and racking up 46 Nationwide Series, 30 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and 11 Camping World Truck Series in the process, all of which led to him being worth $10.5 million.
Kevin has won important events such as the Brickyard 400, the Daytona 500, and the Southern 500, which have made him revered as one of the premier NASCAR drivers in the world. In addition to his exploits behind the wheel, he finds time for charity and philanthropic activities.
Chase Elliott is a 26-year-old NASCAR driver that drives for Hendrick Motorsports, for whom he drives the same No.9 Chevrolet his father, Bill Eliott, drove for the bulk of his NASCAR Hall of Fame career. Chase’s fifth full season was in 2020 when he won his first Cup Series championship.
He also won the NASCAR All-Star Race at the Bristol Motor Speedway, and he has won 14 more career Cup Series. Chase was the Most Popular Driver in the Cup Series from 2018 to 2020, just like his father, who was named so 16 times over the course of his career. Eliott currently has a net worth of $12 million.
Joey Logano is a NASCAR driver and the youngest Nationwide Series winner. The 32-year-old was barely 18 years old when he won his first Nationwide Series, and he won the Spring Cup Series only a year later. From 2008 to 2012, Logano drove the No. 02 Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing and recorded 2 victories and several top 10 finishes within that span.
He has won prestigious events such as the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship, the 2022 Busch Clash event, and the 2015 Daytona 500 event. Logano is worth $44 million, and he earns over $10 million per annum.