Nascar and ADHD

Nascar driver Jeremy Mayfield has shared that he has ADHD, and takes the medication Adderall for it.

This disclosure has come in a ’roundabout’ way. This relates to the reports that Mr. Mayfield was suspended from driving due to finding amphetamines in his urine during a random urine drug screen. Mr. Mayfield has explained that he takes Adderall medication for ADHD, as well as Claritin D. This issue is before the courts. You can read the news updates here.

While Mr. Mayfield is going through a rough time right now, I am happy to hear that he has openly disclosed his diagnosis of ADHD. This can lead to advocacy and support for the many kids diagnosed with ADD or ADHD each year.

I do wonder how many of the Nascar drivers have ADD or ADHD?

Although there is research which shows that people with untreated ADHD are at risk of more accidents while driving, my clinical experience in ADHD suggests that people with ADHD often excel at ‘extreme sports’. Whereas driving to the store at 40 miles per hour may be boring, driving on a Nascar track at speeds in excess of 200 mph can be exciting and can command one’s attention. And as Mr. Mayfield explains – he is taking an ADHD medication while driving.

I do hope that things work out well for Mr. Mayfield, and that he uses this situation as a springboard for advocacy for ADD/ADHD. I hope that he can be a role model for the thousands of boys (And girls!) diagnosed with ADD and ADHD each year.

What are your thoughts and experiences? Please share them below.


Dr. Kenny

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  1. Thank God someone is finally listening. As a fan of NASCAR for the last 20 years that has ADD I was appalled that this driver was suspended for using and ADHD drug!

    I too hope that this case can be used to promote people seeking treatment for ADHD and those that have been diagnosed to keep taking their meds on a regular basis.

    To answer the good doctors question…I can name with utmost certainty at least 6 drivers that are in the race cars today have ADD or ADHD! I would love to share them privately with the doctor.

  2. I have long held that people with ADD and ADHD, a condition closely related to many addictive disorders, are probably also more likely to engage in other risky behaviors that are more socially acceptable, like X sports.

    Great post!

  3. A couple of questions:

    1) Would this be considered a “performance enhancing” medication in NASCAR? Other sports?

    2) The lawsuit is messy and the testing lab did both the “A” and “B” samples.

    • My opinion is that ADHD medications are not performance enhancing if you don’t have ADHD. They may increase alertness, and may cause insomnia (so that people can stay awake longer), but the biggest impact on the concentration comes from people who have ADHD.
      I don’t really have real facts as to what was found on the testing, so I can’t really do more than report what was reported in the press.
      I was excited to see that he has come forward with his ADHD (even if it wasn’t completely intentional).
      Dr. Kenny

  4. I would LOVE to know the answer! My son has ADHD and he is rising up the ranks in racing. I always wondered if the ADHD helped him – might his brain be processing what’s going on at higher speeds quicker than the non-ADHD person?

    • Hi leigh Ann. I wanted to answer because I am adhd and im addicted to racing and love it. It is a passion I have to let go. But if your son has a chance. Let him race. I can’t say for sure of everyone with adhd. But for me. Driving fast gave me excitement which I loved. I don’t think he processes at higher speeds but if he is obsessed with racing. His brain will continue to keep focusing on how to drive better. What to do to be faster. What is slowing him down. I believe these may be the reasons he is rising up the ranks. Driving has a philosophy to it that after certain levels I don’t think can be taught. It’s understanding of driving and physics and how you can manipulate the vehicle to go faster. When i first experianced cars and driving and fell in love with driving fast. I would always daydream about driving. I would always think of new stuff and test it out. There is more too it that is too much to write about. But if you ask your son. He may be the same. He is hyper focused when he is driving fast only because that’s what he is obsessed with and he will keep trying to find out why he is .01 sec slower than the faster guy and try to overcome it with thinking and testing. Imagination is a big part of it for us adhders and driving. But if I didn’t care for driving. I’d probably still have my license suspended for other stupid reasons.

  5. I had an accident, my fault, at 2-3 mph. I was tired of waiting in the line at the post office. When I was driving home all the cars stopped at the light, including me. When the guy moved up a bit I did too but when he stopped I didn’t.

  6. Hello!! So glad to finally find some interest in this subject! I am an ADHD female living with my ADHD boyfriend, who enjoys all extreme sports including car racing! So I have the pleasure to join him at many car racing events held in NJ, Maryland, Illinois, and many other states!! I am also studying to be a Psychotherapist, and one research paper I want to pursue is testing the hypothesis on “How many race car drivers have diagnosed ADHD or perhaps Adhd type tendencies.. I want to have the actual racers partake in my study during different racing events that I visit!! This would be a most awesome discovery!! The only issue I see with ascertaining accurate results would be whether or not the particular racer would disclose his formal diagnosis of ADHD.. Any suggestions on how I should go about this DR Kenny??
    It also appears that my boyfriend and his fellow racers seem to hyperfocus on getting their cars to run at the best speed possible along with studying their reaction times etc, trying to extrapulate all variables that could affect their performance so they can do econsistently well on the track… Well, this type of ADHD mind has helped them from doing the best as compared to their fellow peers, that do not “think outside the box” or hyperfocus, so then the next question of study would be, out of that population of ADHD racers, how many are always in the top 10% as winners due to their ADHD and the gifts that come with it!!! Cool? Right?? I need some help dwith angles so I can do an accurate study on these guys, any ideas??? thanks, Lisa

  7. Hi its me Lisa again, Notice in my reply I put “helps them from doing their best”..What I meant to say is that ADHD helps them to DO their best, because of their ability to “think outside the box and hyperfocus” in comparison to perhaps their non-adhd, racing peers… So I would think its interesting to compare out of the population of racers that do have ADHD, are they the ones that make up the highest percentage of racers that win their races?? as compared to their non adhd peers??? Hmmmmm yes only a fellow adhd-er would think of how to tackle this challege!! lol my boyfriend suggested I try to do a study on this… Due to all the variables, I need some help on how to do both parts of this study, since I do have access to these car racers!! yay..


  8. Interesting article as I have long suspected that people with ADD are attracted to intense and challenging physical activities. As well as racing cars at high speed, I wonder how many top athletes would meet criteria for ADD. Also, physical contact sports such rugby, boxing and judo probably attract people with ADD. It would be interesting to research this.

  9. Hmm this would explain why I have always raced and been into extreme sports.. at 32 I started racing Motocross again. I raced Karts until I was 35 and would still go back. Yes I can tell you that I get extremely annoyed with slow drivers. I enjoy anything hand eye coordinated where I am in control of something powerful as it gets my blood pumping. It’s no secret amongst ADHD people we do make the best race car drivers and I fully believe if all ADHD people had the money needed to be competitive in racing, we would all be at the top of our game. When the rest of humanity stays inside when it snows, I’m still like a little kid and want to race in the snow or throw a car sideways and slide.. Mind you not recklessly or to endanger other people. We have self restraint but racing is still all I ever wanted to do. Time, money, and adult responsibilities got in the way. So glad I was able to find this article. Thanks.

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