The Marty Smith Podcast: Chris Long Recalls His Experience As NASCAR’s Honorary Pace Car Driver at Richmond Raceway

by Chris Haney

In this week’s episode of The Marty Smith Podcast, two-time Super Bowl champion Chris Long joins the show to talk about his career and a whole lot more. The guys talk plenty of football with Chris, they chat about his various ventures since retiring from the NFL in 2019, and even get into a great conversation about country music.

During the interview with Chris Long, the guys also got into some NASCAR talk with the former NFL defensive end. He’s become a big fan of the sport and has even gotten to know some of the drivers personally. But our co-hosts had to know about his experience after NASCAR tapped Chris to be the honorary pace car driver at Richmond Raceway earlier this season.

By the time he was a teenager, Chris had moved from California to Charlottesville, Virginia where he attended high school. From there, he’d go on to be the face of the University of Virginia’s football program over four years before making the jump to the NFL in 2008. Therefore when NASCAR rolled into Richmond, Virginia in April, Chris Long was a perfect choice for a local honorary driver.

“Oh my god, dude. It unlocked something primal in me, man,” Chris Long said on The Marty Smith Podcast. “I totally get… like I wasn’t even going that fast, dude. But to drive that fast and just trust that you’re not going to flip. Like you never get to do that on the road, you know? And going down there and realizing how slanted [the track is], and they said this isn’t even a big slant [at Richmond Raceway]. Like at all.”

The former NFL pro had a blast as the honorary pace car driver in Richmond. And he’s already dying to get back out there on an even faster track. You can watch Chris drive the pace car and see his excitement firsthand in the clip below.

Chris Long Called His Time at Richmond Raceway a ‘First-Class Experience’

While Richmond might not have the steepest banks on the circuit at 14°, a few NASCAR tracks have double that. It sounds like Chris Long would love to drive the pace car at Talladega Superspeedway (33°) or Daytona International Speedway (31°). He’s already itching to get back out there and floor the gas pedal.

“I’ve gotta hit one of these tracks where it’s like this, where I can really feel the gravity. So anybody that wants me to drive the pace car, like I’d drop everything,” Chris Long said emphatically on The Marty Smith Podcast.

Host Marty Smith chimed in and shared that one of the NASCAR vice presidents texted him in the middle of their interview. He wanted to connect with Marty about the upcoming race at Darlington, which has a much steeper bank at 25°. That’s when Marty told Chris that could be a perfect chance to get him back in the pace car at the South Carolina race.

“Yes, dude. It was the thrill of a lifetime,” Chris Long said of his NASCAR experience. “And everybody in NASCAR is really good at growing the sport. It was legitimately a first-class experience going down there. Like you go to football games, you get lost in the crowd, it’s very closed off. Like I said, you got to meet the racers right before the race. All the people that work for NASCAR are so friendly and accommodating. I am really not just saying that to kiss y’alls a** to get in another pace car. But honestly, as a football player I was like, this is a really welcoming sport. So I was really excited about that.”

The guys talk about that and much more with Chris Long on the newest episode of The Marty Smith Podcast. Make sure to check out their entire conversation below, or listen to the full interview on Spotify, Apple, or wherever else you listen to your favorite podcasts.