Are NASCAR drivers athletes? This is a debate that has been raging on for ages. Yes, they sit in cars and some are fat, but it does take some skill to drive a car at intense speeds. Honestly, while I lean towards no, it still takes more physical effort than golf. But Brad Keselowski recently told a story that might change people’s idea of the sport.

During the press junket at Bristol Motor Speedway, Brad told a story about NFL legend Michael Irvin. Recently, Keselowski took the hall of fame wide receiver for a drive at the Texas Motor Speedway track.

“We ran two or three laps, I think, and we got out and he threw up all over and passed out and sat on the ground,” Keselowski told Fox Sports. “Here’s a guy who is a football player, arguably the most physically fit athletes probably on the planet — at least very well balanced in that sense — and he passed out in the race car and the reason for that is very simple — the mental challenge that it takes to be a race car driver affects the physical challenge because when the demands on your body or the demands on your mind get elevated as they do here at Bristol, you do things that you shouldn’t do that make the physical challenge harder.”

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And while he did not specify when he did this, Irvin is still in incredible shape for his age. So the next step would be to get an athlete in his or her prime to do this: see how he or she feels about the intense heat and stressful situations.

“You hold your breath, you grab the steering wheel way harder than you need to grab it, you tighten up inside the car,” Keselowski continued. “The next thing you know you’re extremely fatigued no matter what conditioning level you have.  I don’t care if you’re Shaq, it doesn’t matter because the mental side of your body is telling yourself, ‘Oh crap,’ and it’s going to use all the strength you have no matter what your strength limits are.”

Again, it is hard to bash a NASCAR driver, especially since one wrong move could lead to a ten car pile-up. There is something inherently dangerous about driving a car at high speeds, but does that make them athletes? It is an answerless question that will likely be debated for decades to come.

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