Chances are when you think of NASCAR, you think of race cars, asphalt, pit stops, Daytona – not jetting off into the wild blue yonder. Even so, private jets are a big part of NASCAR culture, and they’re only becoming more popular.
Table of Contents
- 1. Jeff Burton: Cessna 525 CitationJet
- 2. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Learjet 60
- 3. Carl Edwards: Citation CJ3
- 4. Jeff Gordon: Hawker 800
- 5. Kevin Harwick: Learjet 31A Executive Jet
- 6. Jimmie Johnson: Gulfstream G150
- 7. Matt Kenseth: Citation 501
- 8. Richard Petty: IAI Westwind
- 9. Tony Stewart: Cessna Citation Bravo 550
- 10. Michael Waltrip: Beechcraft King Air 300
That’s due in large part to the fact that, even more than the fast cars, red flags, and Southern flavor, NASCAR is and has always been about personalities.
That’s what helped it grow out of the South in the first place, and that’s what continues to make it appeal to racing fans new and old across the world.
Whether it’s someone you love or love to hate, at the end of the day what makes NASCAR more than 500 laps around the same ring-shaped track over and over are the people behind the wheel.
Their personalities and lifestyles play into that, and there is no denying that there are few lifestyle status symbols that stand out among folks such as golfers, preachers, actors and actresses, and public figures like private jets.
To be a racer, you have to be naturally competitive, and fast private jets give NASCAR drivers one more area in which to compete. Even so, we would all be lucky to have any of the private jets listed here.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most famous NASCAR drivers and the planes they call their own.
1. Jeff Burton: Cessna 525 CitationJet
One of the old hands on the tour, Jeff Burton has been around for a while, and so has the Citation 525. Both Burton and this private jet made their debut in the early 90s and have hung around as reliable options since then.
Burton’s particular model is a 1999 variant that is powered by two Williams FJ-44 jet engines that are capable of producing 1,965 lbs. of thrust for takeoff. It can be flown by one or two pilots with seats for four passengers.
It is also pretty affordable, with used jets by this point often costing between $2 and $3 million. A variant such as Burton’s can fly up as much as 1,500 miles without needing to refuel, and can reach maximum cruising speeds of 448 miles per hour.
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Learjet 60
Few figures entered NASCAR with greater expectations than Dale Earnhardt Jr. He has gone from the shadow of his legendary father to carving out his own identity as one of NASCAR’s most popular drivers. His jet of choice? A Learjet 60.
It has a crew of two, can carry eight passengers, and reach speeds of up to 522 miles per hour. It is more spacious than other private jets of its size, with standing room height as 5.71 feet, higher than many private jets.
A Learjet such as Earnhardt Jr’s is powered by two Pratt & Whitney Turbofan engines, each of which is capable of generating a great deal of thrust, 4,600 lbs., with a maximum range of 2,240 miles.
Dale isn’t the only Earnhardt with a private jet, as his mother Teresa owns a Learjet 31.
3. Carl Edwards: Citation CJ3
As reported by USA Today in 2016, Carl Edwards is one of the most active pilots among NASCAR drivers. He has been a certified pilot since high school, and in the two years since he purchased his Citation CJ3, the story estimated he had flown as much as 850 hours.
The story calls the CJ3 a “significant investment,” and at a cool $7 million each, they’re right. It is a variation of the Citation 525, this updated model can be flown by a single pilot with seven passengers.
This variant is capable of roughly 480 miles an hour worth of cruising speed, and is able to boast a range of just more than 2,000 miles, all of which has given this mid-90s model continued life.
4. Jeff Gordon: Hawker 800
Few figures in the NASCAR world are more divisive than Jeff Gordon. Whether you think he’s the Golden Boy or a poser, love or love to hate him, we can all agree that he has a great private jet in the Hawker 800.
This jet can carry 13 passengers, plus crew, for up to 2,300 miles. That kind of range can easily cover the distance from Denver to New York, all at a cruising speed of around 524 miles per hour.
They measure 52 feet long and boast twin Honeywell engines that offer 4,600 lbs of thrust. Gordon has long been one of NASCAR’s most bankable and endorsement-heavy racers, which is good because Hawker 800s don’t come cheap, costing as much as $12 million.
The plane’s tail number, N24JG, references his name and NASCAR car number.
5. Kevin Harwick: Learjet 31A Executive Jet
The Learjet 31 is apparently a pretty popular private jet among NASCAR members. Not only does Harwick own one, but so too does Rusty Wallace, Denny Hamlin, and Teresa Earnhardt.
This Learjet has a crew of two and is capable of carrying up to seven passengers. While this is one of the more compact private jets on the list, with cabin height around 4 feet and a width of 5 feet, it still has a surprising amount of room.
Powered by twin Allied Signal CFE-738 Series Turbo-Jet engines, the Learjet 31A is capable of reaching cruising speeds of up to 515 miles per hour and has a range of 1,877 miles.
6. Jimmie Johnson: Gulfstream G150
Few names in the racing world carry more heft than Jimmie Johnson, and few names in the world of private jets are more celebrated than Gulfstream. Put the two together, and you have one of the most potent pairings of driver and jet on this list.
NASCAR drivers have a natural need for speed, and this is one of the fastest private jets on our list, with a maximum cruising speed of 647 miles per hour. It can achieve that with two Honeywell TFE 731-40AR-200G Turbofan engines, each of which can produce 4,420 lbs of thrust.
With a range of more than 2,950 miles, this jet can make a transcontinental flight, allowing passengers like Johnson to crisscross the country in style in a spacious oval-shaped cabin.
7. Matt Kenseth: Citation 501
The father of current NASCAR racer Scott Kenseth, Matt was a two-time Daytona winner in his day as a member of the Roush Racing Team before switching to Joe Gibbs Racing. Among the awards for such a successful career? A Citation 501.
One of the older craft on this list, the Citation 501 was first introduced way back in 1971. This is a variant of the same type of jet piloted by Yankees great Thurman Munson when he tragically crashed in 1979.
The plane can be piloted by one or two pilots and has room for up to five passengers and can reach a cruising speed of 411 miles per hour. Despite their age, 501s can still fetch as much as $4.85 million.
8. Richard Petty: IAI Westwind
Richard Petty is easily the most famous NASCAR racer of all-time. “The King” won Daytona an incredible seven times and has done more than anyone to popularize the sport. Among the many jewels in the cowboy hatted-crown of “The King” is this custom-painted Westwind 1.
It features his logo as well as the registration number N43RP, with the latest two letters for his name. The craft, produced by Israel Aircraft Industries, is able to carry an impressive 10 passengers with a crew of two.
What would Richard Petty be without great speed? The Westwind 1 boasts two Garrett TFE 731 SER Turbofan jet engines and can attain a cruising speed of 544 miles per hour. It has an operational range of 2,770, allowing him to pull off transcontinental flights quickly.
9. Tony Stewart: Cessna Citation Bravo 550
He may be the bad boy of NASCAR racing, but there’s nothing bad about the Citation Bravo 550, which Tony Stewart calls his own. First produced in 1978 with many variations along the way it, like Stewart, has had a long and successful career.
The Citation Bravo 550 is piloted by a crew of two and is capable of carrying seven passengers. It is capable of shorter takeoffs and can land in smaller airports than is possible for many planes, which is great for personal travel for public figures like Stewart.
In terms of speed, the Citation Bravo 500 can reach a cruising speed of 402 miles per hour and is able to achieve this thanks to two Pratt & Whitney PW 530A Turbo-Jet engines that are able to produce 2,877 pounds of thrust.
10. Michael Waltrip: Beechcraft King Air 300
Another former great of the NASCAR circuit, these days Michael Waltrip spends his days as a racing commentator. While he was still racing he feuded with drivers and courted scandal on his way to two wins at Daytona for Earnhardt Inc.
This type of private jet was first produced in the late 1980s, and has both a jet engine as well as a propeller. The plane is able to attain a cruising speed of 315 miles per hour. It boasts an operational range of 2,000 miles.
It has room for up to nine passengers and can be flown by a single pilot. That said, this space can be somewhat misleading, as at least one of the “seats” included in the model is an emergency seat that can be converted from the lavatory toilet.