ON THE ROAD
Whether you spend life on the road for pleasure or work, it's nice to have the comforts
of home as you travel the highways and byways.
TRAILBLAZER checks in with folks who spend a fair amount of time on the road to see just what makes their home away from home.
This month, we chatted with NASCAR driver A.J. ALLMENDINGER
Quite simply, NASCAR star A.J. Allmendinger lives for life on the road. Born in 1981 in Northern California, A.J. started with BMX bike riding and racing at the ripe old age of five, before moving to four wheels and 'quarter midget' racing at eight and go-karts (which he still loves). Back then, 'Dinger' traveled the country through his teens with his biggest fans (and sponsors), Mom and Dad. At one point, he was named RACER Magazine's "Most Promising Road Racer" three straight times.
That promise has raced its way to reality. A.J. now drives the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Dodge car for Penske Racing.
With a race season that lasts more than 35 weeks, Dinger still loves life on the road, on or off the track, 70 to 100 nights a year. However, when he's not back home in racing-crazed Charlotte, North Carolina (home of the NASCAR Hall of Fame), hotels aren't for this road warrior. For all but a few races each year, he typically lives "in the slow lane" in a 42-foot American Tradition from American Coach.
*What's your favorite thing about staying in your American Tradition versus a hotel room?
It's your home. You're just about in it more than where you actually live. You have your bed, your food, video games, and whatever you want in there. After a long day at the track, it's great just to walk back to the bus versus driving to a hotel [which is what many race fans do as well].
More often than not, I'll have somebody hanging out with me. I think it's cool to have a barbecue and just chill out. There's a slide-out TV and we sit there and just enjoy that hanging out with friends. For the races in Charlotte [where he now lives], my parents come from California and stay on it at the track. The days can be pretty long and it's nice to have your home to go back to.
*What are your three favorite things onboard?
Video games, DIRECTV, and my computer. Being part of NASCAR and Sprint Cup, they hook you up with their internet!
*What are a few favorite tracks and why?
Kansas Speedway is fun because there are things to do right outside the racetrack. They have a new casino. Texas [Fort Worth's Texas Motor Speedway] is fun because you get a big crowd and--same thing--a lot of stuff right there. I kind of relate tracks to things to do nearby--especially if you have a bad day at practice and just want to get away for a little fun!
*What are a few favorite other destinations and why?
The season is so long and I love racing. In the off-season, I race go-karts. Most of my winter is spent racing in Florida.
*What's your favorite meal onboard?
I'm pretty simple. I like a lot of pasta [and] a lot of salads. My refrigerator's fairly simple--I have a lot of fruit in there.
*If you couldn't be a driver, what would you do?
I enjoy doing commentary. It's fun because you can describe [things] to the outside fan that doesn't really know the ins and outs of what's going on--really let them know what it's all about. There are some good commentators that do that and some not so good. That would be fun for me once I retire.