NASCAR is the only sport with more vocal haters than soccer, but they would likely sing another tune if they had lunch with Miss Coors Light, Rachel Rupert. She schooled me on NASCAR, what her job entails, and which driver wants to buy a tank. While I didn’t start with zero NASCAR knowledge, I knew so little that I ranked my top three drivers as Cole Trickle, Ricky Bobby, and Eric Cartman. Thankfully I had extensive knowledge of Coors Light on which to lean.
Guyism: So how did you become Miss Coors Light?
Rachel Rupert: I auditioned in 2010 along with hundreds of women. Then once they narrowed it down to a select few, things really got intense. I had to do a panel interview with almost 50 people and answer questions about my life and prove my NASCAR knowledge. They also asked situational questions like, “What would you do if someone was too drunk,” because I would be representing a beer brand. I had done plenty of promo work before, so I knew how to handle this sort of stuff.
Did you know much about NASCAR at the time? What about the other women?
Oh yeah, I’m from Charleston, NC, so I grew up watching NASCAR and going to races with my dad. I’ve always been a fan. You could tell some girls showed up only knowing what they read on the way over though.
Who was your favorite driver before becoming Miss Coors Light?
Probably Dale Jr.
Are you allowed to have one now?
I pull for so many of the guys now. Once you get to know the drivers and the people involved, there are all sorts of reasons to hope someone wins. One teams’ gas man brings me a bottle of water every time I’m on pit road, so how could you not pull for that guy?
Before you became Miss Coors Light, did you cheer for crashes like the rest of us? And what about now?
I think I spent most of my youth watching and thinking, “We need a crash!” Not so much anymore because I actually know the drivers and, more importantly, the crew. I see just how much work goes into those cars and just tears your heart to see them destroyed. The crew guys are always the first to the shop and spend the most time at the track. I don’t think they ever even get days off. On the flip side, I also know they guy who sells teams the steel, and he loves when they crash.
Lots of love for the pit guys, huh?
Drivers are cool, but the crew, that’s where it’s at. Watching them work during a pit stop is just fascinating. Their level of speed and precision with things like dropping a 100+ lbs of fuel on point is impressive.
I always hear things about how someone’s car is running fast that day. Does the car really make that big of a difference. Shouldn’t they all have great cars?
No, definitely not. There’s a big difference in cars on any given day. The big thing though is the driver being in tune with his car. Drivers have an amazing ability to completely connect with the car. They can sense something wrong from the slightest vibration or lack thereof. That’s what separates veteran drivers from youngsters.
So what if you put a great driver in a mediocre car, how would he do?
Jimmie Johnson in a mediocre car can run laps around Ricky Stenhouse Jr in a perfect car. The car makes a big difference, but so does the driver. Maturity is a major factor for drivers. [Sorry if that gets you in trouble, Rachel. It was too funny not to print.]
So what does your typical NASCAR weekend entail as Miss Coors Light?
It usually starts Thursday with appearances at bars, restaurants, and Walmart. We have Coors Light models there and take pictures and do giveaways. Friday and Saturday are usually qualifying, so I award the Coors Light Pole award to the fastest driver and conduct interviews. Then Sunday is mostly hospitality appearances for Goodyear, Ford, etc. during which I sign autographs and take pictures.
Do you have a favorite person to interview?
Absolutely. Kyle Busch. He’s a dreamboat…for sponsors. He can somehow mention every sponsor in a single answer and can give you everything you need in five minutes. Fans love him too. He’s great with fans. For the most part the old guys get it. They’re pros. Some of the young drivers you have to ask the same question repeatedly to get a full answer.
OK, I’ll admit to my ignorance. I know The Chase is starting, but I have no idea what it is beyond, “the playoffs.”
12 cars make the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Drivers earn points throughout the season for everything from wins to leading laps. The top 10 drivers after the 26 “regular season” races are automatically in The Chase. The next two spots are filled by the drivers in 11-20 who have the most wins. At the start of the Chase, everyone’s points are reset to 2000, and drivers are given bonus points for wins during the season. Then it’s 10 races for the championship.
[There was all sorts of drama the last 2 weekends with teams making side deals to cheat and help cars get into the Chase. Rachel, bless her heart, explained the whole thing to me but it’s more complex than is worth explaining here, especially now that NASCAR randomly just added a 13th driver, Jeff Gordon.]
So does the Chase make the regular season more exciting or not really make a difference?
It’s definitely more exciting now because of the new emphasis put on wins. Before a driver could regularly finish 5th, never win a race, and still win the championship. Now that’s tougher. You could be 2nd in points at the end of the season, but if you’ve never won, you’ll be starting the Chase down near the bottom. It makes trying to win every weekend much more important.
OK, let’s end with a few random questions. Do you drink Coors Light even at fancy clubs?
Yes. I actually had my own bucket of Coors Light at Paris Club last night while everyone else had vodka and champagne. They even put it in a beer bucket for me instead of a fancy one.
What driver can drink the most Coors Lights…responsibly?
Clint Boyer can definitely drink the most. He’s a guys’ guy.
Who’s your pick to win the Chase?
Matt Kenseth. He’s a proven winner. [Fun fact: the added emphasis on winning races is the “Matt Kenseth Rule” because he won the championship after only winning 1 race.]
Have you ever stolen a NASCAR?
No, that’s too much car for me. I’d be way too scared.
What’s your favorite track?
Bristol. I love short tracks, and it’s the Colosseum. The banking is so high you see the cars right there. It’s amazing.
Give me one random fact about a driver.
Brad Keselowski is trying to buy a tank.
That concluded my lunch with the adorably accented and incredibly genuine Rachel Rupert, Miss Coors Light. That’s right, we ended with a driver who wanted to buy a tank just so he could cruise around town in it. God bless NASCAR. You can follow Rachel on Twitter or wherever Coors Lights are sold.