Q&A: After the Lap host Courtney Hansen
RELATED: After the Lap Sweepstakes One of the year's hottest events, NASCAR After The Lap Sponsored by Ford and Sprint (streaming on NASCAR.com Dec. 3), will be hosted by motorsports TV personalities Courtney Hansen and Rutledge Wood. Hansen recently chatted with NASCAR.com's Pat DeCola to talk about the event, Jeff Gordon and her impressive car collection. Pat DeCola: So, you've got After the Lap coming up. It's always a good time -- you excited? Courtney Hansen : I've done some work with NASCAR and NASCAR.com in the past and of course I'm a huge fan and they know that and I'm good friends with Rutledge Wood. I think NASCAR felt it would be a great fit and I'm thrilled to be taking part in After the Lap -- the most unpredictable time of the year in motorsports. PD: Definitely. It wasn't that long ago that we saw Jeff Gordon break dance, so drivers really tend to be a little relaxed. CH: I love it, I love it. Apparently there's a little bit of alcohol involved so you never know what's going to happen. I think it's really fun for the drivers let loose in that way and get personal in a way that fans never get to see. PD: Exactly; for 36 races a year, things are so tense. Especially when you get to the Chase when things really tighten up. The past few weeks have been especially crazy. CH: They're so wound up and focused all year, they finally get a chance to let loose in Vegas and have fun with their fans. I think it's awesome. PD: You come from a pretty deep racing background. I hear your family even used to own a race track. CH: Yes, we used to own Brainerd International Raceway in Minnesota so I grew up there a pit kid and my father (Jerry Hansen ; three career Sprint Cup Series starts) raced Sports Car Club of America and won 27 national SCCA championships so my whole life was just going from one track from the next and spending a whole lot of time at BIR. I've been an enthusiast since I was born and (motorsports) is definitely in my blood. Because of hosting all these automotive shows and working with NASCAR and doing auto show appearances all over the country, I've had the chance to learn so much about cars and see the coolest cars on the planet and get to know a lot of the amazing people in the automotive world. The love just grows stronger and the passion runs deeper every day. It's an addiction for me. PD: Have you done any racing yourself? CH: You know, my parents forbid it. They're both very supportive people and they gave us a lot of love and support over the years but they just steered us away from motorsports. They would let us do anything besides race. Because that was always deterred, I never went that route but my brother did a little bit of racing and my sister was always wanting to race NASCAR. I'm a good driver, though. Whenever somebody sees me drive they say, "Oh, you're actually a woman who can drive and I'm like -- hey now!" But I've test driven cars. I test drove Lamborghinis at Homestead with magazine editors and other things like that. You know, I've driven cars around race tracks, but I've never done professional racing. PD: So you've probably got a killer daily driver then. CH: I've got a couple. I'm all about the American classics. Those are my favorite in the mix. I have a '57 (Ford) Thunderbird with numbers matching the original. I have a '70 (Chevrolet Camaro) Z-28 that is also numbers matching original. I have a '70 (Ford Mustang) Mach 1 that I got from DJ Funk Master Flex. I have yet to pick it up; I'm picking it up in New York on Thanksgiving weekend. I have an Aston Martin DB9 that's like my reliable daily driver when I want to get quickly around Los Angeles. And then I have a baby-friendly SUV ... Range Rover Sport that's super-charged. And then (automotive designer) Chip Foose tricked out a 2004 Thunderbird for me. Now I'm looking for a MOPAR; a MOPAR will round out the equation. PD: Those all sound really cool. I drive a Honda Accord. Did you have a favorite driver growing up? CH: My dad! No, I mean, of course I was young, but I loved Richard Petty. I've always loved Mario Andretti, who's a dear family friend. Dale Earnhardt Jr . ... I totally support him and would love to see him win a championship. My dad was always number one, though. I also loved Paul Newman, the actor. He's a very close family friend and my dad taught him how to race. He actually stayed at our cabin in Minnesota for like 20 years and raced Trans-Am Series with my dad ... I loved watching Paul Newman race and he was a very good racer. PD: Jeff Gordon has a final shot at a fifth championship this Sunday at Homestead. As a long time fan of the sport, what does Gordon mean to you? CH: Absolutely (I'm a fan). Jeff Gordon is a legend in the sport and he has such a huge fan base. It would be amazing to see him go out with a bang and win the championship. I don't think anybody would be disappointed by that. I think it'd be phenomenal to see him win one last championship and go out with a bang. I wish Dale was still in the Chase, of course. He was so close. It was disappointing. I think he's got a championship in his future and he's going to have a killer next season. I like all the drivers so it's hard for me to say I'd like to see one win over the other, but I definitely think the fans would love it and I would love to see Jeff clinch another title before he retires. I interviewed him years ago at Martinsville when I was doing some hosting with NASCAR and he said a quote -- and maybe it's been said before by various people -- but I just loved the way that Jeff said it. I said, "What does it feel like to go 200 mph?" and he said, "The rush isn't about the speed. The rush is when you're faster than everybody else." I loved that he said that. I loved that quote. PD: When you're on the stage hosting After the Lap, that's probably going to be one of the first times where Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth have been forced to interact since their run-in -- do you plan on playing into that at all? CH: I think if the drivers are cool with it -- I imagine they'll both have their opinions and their stance on the topic -- and the fans are definitely going to want to dive into that one ... I'll roll with it. I'll keep it light and fun. I think the job of Rutledge and I is to manage the crowd and interact with the drivers and facilitate the questions in a way that keeps everything lighthearted and fun. Ultimately, that's what it's about. If it starts to get negative or contentious or if there's an energy that's not welcomed in that arena, we'll steer it in a positive direction, but I think it'll definitely be brought up. It's one of the hottest topics of the season.
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