Gone fishin': A well-deserved break or, for some, just back to their day jobs
Everyone in NASCAR's Nextel Cup seems to be looking forward to the holidays, but wintertime isn't an extended vacation for many crewmembers and some drivers.
From working around the house to spending time with family to going fishing to having surgery, NASCAR Nextel Cup drivers and team members have plenty to do in the offseason.
While drivers are free of their driving duties, most still have sponsor obligations to fulfill at least part of the time. For team members, there really is no offseason -- just weekends off until January rolls around and testing begins.
Here is a roundup of answers to the question, "What are your plans for the offseason?"
"I'm looking forward to Christmas and New Year's the most. For Thanksgiving, I'm going to spend time with my family in North Carolina. Then Christmas and New Year's, I look forward to spending time with friends and Ingrid and the baby just hanging out. Those are the three things I'm looking forward to the most."
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
"Tony [Eury] Jr. is going to tell me whatever I've got to do. Whatever he thinks we need to do, we'll do it. They've already been testing a little bit. I'll do whatever they need for me to do.
"I started bow hunting, which was pretty fun. Me and Tony Jr. went to Oklahoma and I killed my first buck with a bow. That was exciting.
"So, I'm enjoying those types of things where I can spend more time with Martin [Truex Jr.] because that's all he does in the winter time. You can't hang out with him because he's deer hunting. That's great for me and I really enjoy that and I like Martin's friendship.
"But if Tony Jr. says we have to work every day in January, I'll be the first one on the sounding board making it happen and helping him. I want to be right and I want to do whatever it takes to be right and will work all night."
"I'm having a total body wax, breast implants, and hair extensions in preparation for my upcoming sex-change operation, which should be completed before we head to Daytona."
JUST KIDDING. I made that up in response to Stewart's answer, below:
"I'm just going to relax and enjoy myself. I don't tell anybody what I do to relax because when you start telling everybody what you do, then they start hunting you down, and that makes it non-relaxing again. So that's for us to know and you guys to make up."
"The offseason is going to be fun. I'll relax a little bit and build some really nice cars for next year and just kind of get ready to go again. I have some things planned to kind of enjoy myself, and I know the team does too.
"I'm going to race the Turkey Night Grand Prix USAC race this week. I'm looking forward to Christmas and Thanksgiving and all that stuff, too. Then we'll get ready to race next season at Daytona.
"I've got a lot of things to do around the house that I've been neglecting. I'm going to stay around there, race go-karts with the guys and enjoy non-job-related stuff. I'll definitely go back home and see my family in Kansas over the holidays. That's always fun. I'm just looking forward to enjoying a normal life without the hectic schedule.
"I'm just looking forward to having a weekend off. That's the thing about our lives and our jobs. Normal people with regular jobs work just as long and just as hard as we do, but they have their weekends off. Our weekends are Tuesday and Wednesday, and I tell people that it's no fun because everyone else is working.
"I'm surprised all of us don't have friends bought off so we have someone to hang out with on Tuesday and Wednesday. It's fun to go out on the weekend and enjoy the nightlife, but there isn't much going on Tuesday or Wednesday night."
"I'm looking forward to the break. I don't know the next time I'm getting in a race car.
"I'm going to do some flight training next week, starting Monday, and I'm really looking forward to Christmas. I'm going to have some time off. I think we're going to go somewhere crazy, out of the country, where they don't speak English and don't know anything about NASCAR, and get a week or so of that.
"But I like racing. I'll probably end up doing something during the winter. We started an RC car track back home, so we'll race some of those a little bit."
"We're going to move in and enjoy our new house. We have big plans for Thanksgiving and Christmas, having friends and family down.
"The Monday after Homestead, we'll go to Lake Okeechobee in Florida and fish for bass. We'll go snowmobiling, and before you know it, the season will start again."
"I'm leaving the offseason open right now. I'm going to the Dumont Dunes to play around in the sand dunes again.
"I'm thinking about running down to Baja with my family for Christmas. I might spend New Year's in Mexico -- I'm not sure yet. We've got some Christmas parties with Hendrick Motorsports, too, so I want to be around for those.
"I' just starting to build a new house, so I'm going to be about waist-deep in that come December time, too.
"I don't know yet. I'm just hanging out right now and I'm probably going to take the next two or three weeks and relax, and then think about what I want to do. There are no set plans, kind of different than last year.
"We had a lot going on with the whole Chase and the championship going on, so really now it's to the point where I just want a little bit of time at home."
"Then I am going to stick with the team for the month of December, and then I am going to go on vacation with my family for 10 days at the end of the month. Then I am going to come back and stick with these guys pretty much all the time."
Tony Glover, team manager, Ganassi Racing
"I'm not doing anything special. I'll work and try to get prepared for next year. We normally shut down the week between Christmas and New Year's, but other than that, it's work as usual.
"The offseason is really a short time for us. We've got to get a lot of work done and prepare for next year, so we try to use our time as wisely as possible. I'm looking forward to spending some quality time with my family over the weekends.
"But January is pretty much booked up with testing. We have two in Daytona, one in California and one in Vegas, so that will take up a lot of time. I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving and spending time with the family, and then it will be back to work."
Robbie Loomis, executive vice president of operations for Petty Enterprises
"I'm looking so forward to it. I'll spend a little time with my family. I'll get to see my mom and dad, spend a little time for myself, and my sister will come down at Christmastime.
"The biggest thing from the race team's side is we'll be moving. We'll be real busy with that and excited about the new race shop and just trying to prepare for next season."
Jack Kurtzner, transport driver for No. 12 Alltel Dodge
"There's a lot to do during the offseason. Maintenance on pit boxes, tool boxes, everything's got to be stripped and cleaned on the trailer, go through all the lockers, new uniforms, from A to Z through the trailer. So I'm still busy, besides testing coming up in January six weeks away, when it starts all over again.
"I'm going to do maintenance around my house and try to finish my garage that I started in 2003."
Beau "Sarge" Hughes, utility man for No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet
"My full-time job is a New Jersey state trooper, so I give them 40 hours a week, Monday through Thursday, in 12- or 13-hour days, take a vacation day on Friday or Monday, and fly to the track as soon as I get off duty.
"I work the weekends with the team and then I turn around and go right back to work right all over again. So I'll have weekends off, but I have no offseason."
Doug Randolph, crew chief of the No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge, moving to crew chief of the No. 15 Menards Chevrolet for 2008
"And there are a lot of Cars of Tomorrow to build. Everybody's got a little inventory, but there are a lot more to build.
"The wintertime is when the shop crew works the hardest. They work a lot more hours in the [fabrication] shop and there are a lot more hours for the shop mechanics. The road mechanics get a little time off, weekends at home with their families, that they don't have once the season gets going.
"So we try to spread it out, but it always seems like you have big plans to have time off, but the rules will change and you have to go to Daytona to test, or they'll change another rule and you come back and cut your cars up. And you always try to plan it out where everybody gets plenty of time off, but it never seems to work that way."
Troy Welty, brake and suspension specialist on the No. 07 Jack Daniel's Chevrolet
"I'll go home to Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving and come back the following Tuesday. Then I'll be at the shop every day. I'll have weekends off, but that's it.
"We have our trailer geared up to do COT races and regular downforce cars, so we have to get all that stuff out and swapped over to just COT this year. That's going to be another big step, getting everything swapped out."
Alec Crabbe, motorcoach driver for Steve Letarte, crew chief of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet
"I work for Champion Tire and Wheel during the offseason to help them take care of their equipment. But I'll take a vacation, visit family in Dawsonville, Ga., and spend some time with my girlfriend."
Ron Malec, car chief for the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet
"We get a week off for Thanksgiving and a week off for Christmas and New Year's, and I'll just relax. But we test the week after we get back, so it comes quick."
Gene Pasquale, mechanic for the No. 29 Pennzoil Chevrolet
"We really don't have an offseason. We get a week off for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and the rest of the time, we're in the shop. We're building new cars in the offseason, but we do get our weekends off, which is nice."
Scott Plattenberger, mechanic and front tire changer for the No. 99 Office Depot Ford
"I'm having surgery in the offseason, so I'll be out of work for about two weeks and won't be able to practice changing tires for about six weeks. I've got carpal tunnel in both wrists and I was lucky enough to convince a doctor to do both at one time. So that won't be real fun for a couple days, but it's better than waiting an extra two weeks. I tried getting it done as soon as I could in the offseason. That way I'd have more time to recuperate and have more time to prepare for next season.
"I've been putting it off for two years. I was on the No. 17 Busch car last year and I knew I was coming to this job. I told them I needed the whole season to practice so I was at my best. But it's gotten to the point now where it's pretty much unbearable, so I have to have something done and can't go any longer."
David Aubry, NASCAR Nextel Cup series inspector/official
"I only do this part-time, about 15 races a year, and work full time for NASA at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. So it just means that I'll have my weekends free."
Dennis Key, Goodyear Tires
"I get about a month off, and I'll go to the Outer Banks of North Carolina to go fishing."