Unlike its stick-band-ball counterparts or even Formula One with its Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, NASCAR does not have a union or a collective bargaining system for its drivers. In fact, the sanctioning body has historically been a staunch opponent of drivers unionising, as evidenced with Tim Flock and Curtis Turner being banned from the sport in 1961 for attempting to form one and the short-lived Professional Drivers Association boycotting the inaugural Talladega Superspeedway race in 1969 before disbanding as NASCAR merely brought in replacements.
Jeff Burton and seven other active and former Cup Series drivers aren’t exactly leading a union, but they still hope to have their voices heard by NASCAR. On Friday, the Drivers Advisory Council announced its inception with the goal of connecting drivers to NASCAR for dialogue surrounding the sport. Burton, a former Cup driver and current colour commentator for NBC, serves as the DAC’s director. Active drivers Kurt Busch, Austin Dillon, Denny Hamlin, Corey LaJoie, Joey Logano, and Daniel Suárez are on the board of directors, as is Burton’s NBC colleague Kyle Petty. Among the council’s goals are to improve safety and grow the sport. Many have pointed to matters like driver disapproval of Speedway Motorsports reconfiguring Atlanta Motor Speedway as one of the impetuses for drivers wishing to have more involvement in NASCAR’s matters.
While a union is not the same as a council, the latter has previously formed by the drivers in 2014 before quietly dissolving after five years as drivers felt it had satisfied and outlived its purpose. Hamlin was a major player in having the DAC predecessor created, explaining in a 2020 NASCAR on NBC podcast episode that it came on the heels of NASCAR experimenting with different rules packages, a topic that permeated discussion for the rest of the Gen-6 car’s existence through 2021. He also noted that a fully fledged drivers’ union was entertained but never materialised due to opposition from NASCAR leadership.
Since the previous council’s demise, drivers usually give their input to NASCAR via informal meetings at the NASCAR hauler during race days.
A union also exists for team owners: the Race Team Alliance was founded in 2014, and its members all possess charters that guarantee their cars spots in every Cup race. Hamlin is technically a member of both the DAC and RTA as a co-owner of 23XI Racing, and he explained on Twitter that “[t]he drivers and the teams align 95% of the time. When that 5% is in play I will step aside on those issues. One thing is for sure. ALL parties have 1 common goal and that is to GROW the sport.”