The Untold Truth Of Race Car Driver Kurt Busch

It takes countless elements to create a great NASCAR driver but along with the obvious physical prowess it requires to control a car in the most feverish and competitive racing series in the world, success also requires a fiery personality and the single-minded desire to win at the highest level.

And few NASCAR drivers meet those prerequisites quite like Kurt Busch who, for more than two decades, has made headlines for both his off-the-track behavior and his solid performances behind the wheel.

In 2012, The Bleacher Report's Ben Montedonico described Busch as a "loathed Sprint Cup star," referencing the title he won back in 2004. Busch remained a regular winner for the years after, before a series of frustrating incidents across several competitions in 2012 saw his career hit a sticky patch.

But as Forbes noted in 2021, the formerly controversial Busch has emerged in recent years as a mature and respected veteran of the game, who still attracts top-level sponsorship and is increasingly looking toward rebuilding the bridges he burnt in his younger years by mentoring new drivers. 

Kurt Busch's early career aspirations

Kurt Busch took his first steps into the world of racing early, beginning his career at the age of just 14 after a childhood spent at the racetracks around his hometown of Las Vegas. According to Celebrity Net Worth, the future NASCAR star began go-kart racing when he was just 6.

But though Busch's passion for cars and racing was never in doubt, the youngster's aspirations were initially more down-to-earth, with ESPN reporting that Busch initially envisioned himself becoming a pharmacist. And Busch's future was assured by the support of his parents, Gaye and Tom, who agreed to fund his racing as a teenager as long as he kept his grades high enough to make it into college, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

Why pharmacy? Well, some sources claim that Kurt was influenced to study the subject as a result of his mother's arthritis. But per ESPN, Busch also realized that pharmacists can earn a bundle and that such a career would almost certainly allow him to earn enough to fund his racing habit.

Early legal troubles

Kurt Busch attended the University of Arizona to study to become a pharmacist, reports Celebrity Net Worth but soon dropped out when it became clear that his exceptional driving abilities were enough to carry him into the big time. The young racer's early years for Roush Racing (beginning in 2000) saw him begin a remarkable trajectory toward his famous 2004 Sprint Cup win. But it was not long before the racing prodigy's public persona began to hit the skids.

According to Athlon Sports, 2005 saw Busch make the high-profile leap from Roush to Penske Racing, where he took over the driving seat in the #2 Miller Lite car, aka the "Blue Deuce," from the legendary Rusty Wallace, who retired that year. His reputation suffered a serious blow later that year when he was pulled over by police, and arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, with reports of his arrest suggesting Busch had yelled at police, asking "do you know who I am?" and suggesting that they had pulled him over as they were fans of a rival driver.

Per ESPN, Busch eventually submitted to a blood-alcohol test, which showed he was below the Arizona state limit, but was nevertheless given a citation for speeding and reckless driving, and ordered to perform 50 hours of community service. His behavior led to a suspension from racing, one of many during his career.

The Busch's sibling rivalry

Many of the world's greatest athletes have come from unusually competitive families. In tennis, Serena Williams labored in the shadow of her older sister, Venus, before eclipsing her. In the NFL, Peyton and Eli Manning reached rare heights under the stewardship of their father, Archie, who himself played in the NFL for 13 years and played in two Super Bowls, according to Bleacher Report.

And the Busch racing family has proven itself to be a similar sporting dynasty. Kurt's father, Tom, was an avid racer, and attended the very first Daytona 500 with his own parents back in 1959, according to The Score. But Kurt isn't the only star racer in the family; his brother, Kyle, seven years his junior, has also risen to the heights of the NASCAR world to become one of the sport's most recognized names.

But while the rivalry has seen the two racers push themselves to the peak of their sport to achieve what they might have not, the competition between them has not always been healthy. In 2007, the brothers collided during a race offering a $1 million prize, effectively ruining both drivers' chances of winning, per Sportscasting. Meanwhile, Bleacher Report claims that the relationship between Kurt and Kyle is one of the most "dysfunctional" in the sport; the two brothers didn't speak to each other for an entire year after the ill-fated crash, though they have both reportedly mellowed as the years have passed.

Kurt Busch's explosive temper

Kurt Busch's ire hasn't just been reserved for his brother Kyle over the years — not by a long stretch. In fact, Busch has emerged as one of the racing world's most divisive and controversial figures. Arguably, the personality that has driven Kurt Busch to the top of the NASCAR ranks has also been the cause of numerous controversies over his long and otherwise distinguished career, no less when it comes to his interactions with  other drivers.

Busch established a reputation early in his career as a driver who would never back down, beginning with an incident in 2001 when the rookie "made contact" with — or, less euphemistically, purposefully shunted — the car of Dale Earnhardt during that year's Daytona 500, per Bleacher Report. The following year, Busch began a feud with Jimmy Spencer, which ultimately saw Busch taking a punch from his rival after a race at the Michigan International Speedway in August 2003.

Countless feuds followed, the result perhaps of the Busch family's shared belief that those you compete against in sports aren't there to be friendly with, according to Kurt's brother Kyle, who told NASCAR in a 2021 profile that their father had instilled in them a coldness toward their fellow drivers. It's an interesting insight into the Buschs' attitudes — explaining their shared successes, but also their notoriety.

Kurt Busch's rollercoaster love life

Busch's relationships with the women in his life have been the cause of many headlines and much gossip among NASCAR fans. According to Masslive, the first woman in Busch's life who became famous with racing fans was his first wife, Eva, whom he married in 2006. The pair divorced in 2011, with their separation — which had been an open secret among the NASCAR community for months — only being announced publicly after Busch was pictured kissing another woman following a race at Sonoma Raceway.

Busch then began a relationship with a woman named Patricia Driscoll, but following their break-up in 2015, Driscoll accused Busch of domestic assault. Though the accusations against Busch were shocking, many of the headlines at the time focused on Busch's claims about Driscoll, namely, that she was a trained assassin who targeted drug lords with weapons ranging from knives to long-range sniper rifles, and that she would regularly leave in the middle of the night to perform hits, according to Sportscasting. Driscoll, meanwhile, responded by calling the claims "ludicrous," per ESPN. Though Busch was suspended from racing, the courts ruled that there was insufficient evidence to bring the accusation to trial, and he was never charged, per SB Nation

In 2017, Busch married Ashley Van Metre (pictured), a professional polo player and model who also runs a swimwear brand, according to Essentially Sports.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.