Gaye Busch isn’t just a NASCAR mom anymore. She’s also an IndyCar mom.
And she’s not crazy about older son Kurt’s trying the double on May 25 when he’ll make his Indy 500 debut in the afternoon followed by NASCAR’s Coca Cola 600 in Charlotte that night.
“I’m nervous,” said Gaye, who is the only woman with two sons — Kurt and Kyle — racing regularly in NASCAR’s top series. “I’m not a fan of open-wheel cars. I wouldn’t let them race go-karts. I thought it was too dangerous. With this open-wheel car … I love to watch it, but I don’t want my children in it.”
Gaye wasn’t even going to attend the Indy 500 but Kurt as well as friends and family have encouraged her to go.
“He’s excited,” she said of Kurt, the fourth driver to try the Memorial Day weekend double, “but I’m not. But I’ll be there to support him.
“I told him, ‘I’ve always been at everything you started. Your first baseball game, I was there. Your first soccer, your first of everything. … So this is the first time you’re going to be doing something in an Indy car, and I have to be there.’’’
Busch, the 2004 Sprint Cup champion, understands his mom’s trepidation.
“She’s a bit intimidated about the IndyCar,” said Busch, who was to meet his mother in Indianapolis for Indy 500 practice day on Mother’s Day. “She was scared for me to race anything when I was a kid. It feels the same way. It takes time for her to accept a different discipline of motorsports. When I was a kid on the go-kart, she kept handing me my ball, my bat and my glove. It was, ‘Go play baseball.’
“Then Dad said, ‘Slide into the race car.’ She’s always been there. Our No. 1 supporter, helping with everything.”
Gaye was just as apprehensive about Kyle’s following Kurt into auto racing.
“She wasn’t a huge fan of my racing because I was the young one,” Kyle said, “but she got over that. The biggest thing was working in the school district, she always had access to our grades, so she knew what they really were, and you had to have good grades in order to go racing.”
Kyle Busch has 130 career wins across NASCAR’s three national series, and between them, the brothers have won 54 Sprint Cup races, including two this season — Kyle at California and Kurt the next week at Martinsville.
But since Kyle became a full-time Cup driver in 2005, the brothers have been on the same track for 334 races and have yet to finish 1-2. Kyle has won 29 times with 25 second-place finishes; Kurt has won 14 of his 25 career Cup races and finished second 13 times in that span.
“I love to see them close to each other,” Gaye said. “We’re still waiting for my 1-2 finish. That’s on my bucket list. I keep on asking, ‘You guys, where’s my 1-2 finish?’ They’ve been 2-3. … They’ve been 1-3, but I say, ‘Come on, we can do it.’ …”
“I thought in California, that might have been it.” she said of the race that Kyle won and Kurt was third.
“That’s how competitive the sport is … there’s a lot of talented drivers out there,” Gaye said. “When they’re competing against them, it’s hard to get that 1-2, but when they do, I will be there.”
Both Kurt, nicknamed “The Outlaw,” and Kyle, known as “Rowdy,” have made many headlines for volatile behavior. Both have been suspended for on-track incidents, though they have been incident-free this season.
Mom takes it all in stride.
“It doesn’t matter if they’re in racing, or if it’s football or soccer, when something like that happens to your child, the emotions come,” Gaye said of their sons’ transgressions. “Then you have to say, OK, put it behind you and move on. I don’t read the newspaper. … I don’t tweet, I don’t do Facebook, I don’t do any of that, just because I don’t want to read what’s out there.
“I know my children, I know what they’re capable of doing, I know how good they are, just like all the other drivers. These guys, the charities they have, and what they do for people. … The fans don’t realize what these guys do for charities. It’s amazing they can find time in their busy schedules to help people.
“You feel you’ve raised them the right way, and once they leave the home, it’s like, OK, you’re on your own. What are you going to do? They need to control themselves. … Tony (Stewart) has gotten into how many spots? … Every driver has gone through something. Ours gets blown up maybe because they’re brothers.”