Joey Logano, 24, is the youngest race winner, youngest pole winner and youngest Rookie of the Year in the history of NASCAR Sprint Cup. This past February, Logano took the checkered flag in the prestigious Daytona 500.
He began his racing career in 1996 as a 6-year-old quarter midget racer living in Connecticut. Logano was also the first NASCAR driver born in the 1990s that has competed in NASCAR’s three major divisions. He’s a rising star. When he’s not racing, Joey loves finding those hidden gems. He loves antique pieces and special cars.
The following is an interview conducted by Jeff Figler with the NASCAR star before he won the big race, decidedly focused on his collecting pursuits.
Sports Collectors Digest (SCD): How is the Joey Logano Foundation going (specializing in second chances due to natural or human disaster)?
Joey Logano (JL): We are kind of in the middle of restructuring it for this year – a lot more bigger things are coming for this year. The last couple years have been learning years for me. You know, this year we are looking to give away a lot of money, more money – about $1 million to give away.
SCD: How did you get started with this foundation?
JL: For me, it’s something you are raised with, and your parents raised you with the right morals. You give back. I look at it, I get to race cars for a living. That’s the [baddest] job in the world if you ask me – well maybe not for most people! I know people are less fortunate. That’s what the foundation is about; it’s for people that work really hard and some disaster hits them or something. I call it a restart. Maybe a disaster has hit them – they need four new tires, some disease has hit them and they need help. A little restart to get them back at life. I look at it as you have to give back to people that are not as fortunate.
SCD: You started racing at 6 and won your first race at 7 years old. Did you have a mentor when you were that young? How did you pick it up so quickly?
JL: When you’re that young, it’s just for fun. You’re driving a go-kart, or quarter midget is what I drove. It’s a recreational deal at that point. You are having fun with your family. My dad wasn’t a racer. His background growing up was high school sports. He played baseball and basketball, not racing. So, naturally, I tried those sports, and I sucked at them. Racing was the only thing I was good at, and I enjoyed it since I’m so competitive and was winning at it. I kept going up the ranks and moved up.
SCD: You are a newlywed. When the time comes, are you going to try to persuade your children to get into race car driving?
JL: I don’t know, that’s a few years down the road for me. Whatever they want to do. Growing up, I played hockey for a little bit, and you see kids that don’t want to play and the parent wants to play more than them. I don’t want to be that guy; I don’t want to be that parent. If they want to play checkers for a sport, play checkers. Whatever they want to do, I’ll support them
SCD: What do you collect?
JL: I like antique cars. I’m a car guy. I like unique stuff. I’m more into stuff you don’t see every day – that attracts me. That’s why I like antique shops, finding unique things and that stand out; I like that most. Cars are probably the biggest thing. I like old signs, stuff for my shop. I have a lot of Shell and Coca-Cola stuff. Fortunately, my sponsors are companies that have been around hundreds of years – you can find a lot of cool things to put in your race shop.
SCD: What hidden gems have you found?
JL: It’s hard to just pick one of them. Something that is really cool that I got is an old antique Shell gas pump. It’s really neat, you can do a lot cool things with it. I got a 1937 GMC truck. I like driving around in it. I like the old vintage look! I’m pretty random – you know typically stuff around cars.
SCD: What is your favorite item? Do you have one in particular that stands out?
JL: I don’t know if I have one that stands out but I got an old sign I found on eBay from California. It says “Eat at Joe’s Drive In” from a restaurant that was in California a long time ago and went out of business. I took the sign and kind of revamped it. I put it in the lobby in my shop; I thought it was really cool. I thought it was really neat since it’s old and has my name on it. It’s kind of a must-have item for me. It’s got to be one of the neatest things, and it’s really big. It’s got to be 6 to 7 feet.
SCD: Where do you keep your collection? In North Carolina?
JL: Yeah, in North Carolina. I have a race shop [that is] more like a toy box. You know, it’s a place where my manager works out of. We do have a lot of meetings for personal stuff there. It’s a garage that I can store my antique cars in, hang my signs up and antique items I’ve collected. It’s kind of like my hoarding spot – not like an extreme hoarder! But my wife is OK if I have a place to hoard my stuff, and it’s out of the house.
SCD: Do you ever watch any of the TV shows like “American Pickers” or “Pawn Stars?”
JL: Yeah, I do watch them. I like it. I’m not hard core and know what everything is worth, but I like watching it. I like the history you learn from the interesting stories behind the items. The cool thing a lot of this stuff have an interesting story behind it and what it is about.
SCD: Do you collect any NASCAR memorabilia?
JL: No I haven’t gotten much into that. Not yet.
SCD: I was in Indianapolis and right down the street from the speedway is a place a race car driver owns where you can get in the car and take a lap around. I had the hardest time getting into the car . . . So narrow, you got to climb in and out. It was difficult for me, but I did it. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.
JL: It’s small! You got to get used to them, you have to get a technique to get in and out of them. They are built tight for sure.
SCD: Have you gotten into any sports memorabilia? Have you had the opportunity to collect any baseball, football or hockey?
JL: No I haven’t. Like I said, most of the stuff that I got is auto stuff – cars or signs that are around cars, stuff like that. I’m a car guy. I’m into that. That’s what attracts me the most.
SCD: I had a radio caller who asked me what a tire driven by Dale Earnhardt was worth. The first question I usually ask is, “Is it signed?” It’s the most unusual things people will buy.
JL: Race car parts and car stuff I see every day because I’m at the race shop all day. I’m a racer. So stuff I don’t see all the time, that’s unique and attracts me.
Jeff Figler is a trivia expert, collector and author. His latest book, “Picker’s Pocket Guide to Baseball Memorabilia” can be ordered through www.krausebooks.com.