Q&A: Kirk George, NASCAR Hauler for Tony Stewart
Kirk George quietly devoured a boxed dinner as strangers strolled by. His table doubled as Tony Stewart’s car hauler, prime real estate for fans who flocked to Main Street in Speedway Thursday for the annual Hauler Parade. Several fans circled around the native Hoosier’s tractor-trailer as George finished his bag of chips. George is from Virginia and has been driving NASCAR teams around for 23 years. He talks as fast as the machines he lugs around, with an accent thicker than engine oil.
Who was the first driver you hauled for?
Chuck Bown, from the old NASCAR Busch (Series) days. Hensley Racing in Horse Pasture, Virginia.
How does one become a professional hauler? Is there a professional hauling school?
No, it’s all about who you know before what you know. You gotta know somebody and then have the opportunity to show what you can do.
How did you come to drive for Tony Stewart?
Several people I used to work with at Hendrick (Motorsports) are (with Stewart-Haas Racing). My co-driver used to drive Jimmie Johnson. I used to drive for Jeff Gordon. A job came open. We’ve worked together before and it’s a good deal. Racing is kind of like professional ball. You kind of know everyone from seeing the same people every week.
Are there any limits on the number of hours you can drive at once?
We have to follow the (Department of Transportation) laws. Legally, we can only drive 11 hours in a day. I have to be off duty 10 hours a day. They keep a close eye on that a lot of the time. Usually there are two drivers per team. We try to be as legal as we can be.
If I wanted to go to the hauler store and buy one, how much would it set me back?
The trailer, new and empty, is $400,000. The tractor is $200,000. That’s not counting equipment. You’ve probably got $2.5 million driving down the road with tools, cars, and everything.
What’s the biggest misconception about the gig?
Driving is only about 15 percent of what we do. We’re responsible for everything in the trailer. We need to know where everything is: spare parts, decals, keeping the radios charged, keeping everything cleaned up. It’s constant repetitious work.
How long does it take you to clean the trailer?
All day. It’s never ending. It can take two minutes to get dirty and take you all day to clean it up.
Tony is the hometown guy, but do fans interact differently with you on the road based on geographical location?
He’s a pretty well-known name, so you always have the likers and the haters. But hey, if everybody liked the same guy, we wouldn’t have no job. You take it with a grain of salt and go on.