Race car drivers and triathlon

Alex Zanardi competes at the Ironman World Championship. Photo: Kevin Mackinnon

Earlier this week we highlighted a number of football players who have competed in triathlon. Today we’ll focus on some world-renowned race car drivers who have given the sport a try!


Some triathletes might not see the similarities between NASCAR racing and triathlon, however Challenge Daytona and the upcoming Challenge Miami have shown us that racetracks can be great places to host a mulitsport race. We’ve already seen some drivers compete in triathlon events – will we see more give swim, bike run a try?

In 2015 drivers Landon Cassill and Josh Wise both competed at the 70.3 World Championships in Austria with their fathers.

Cassill also competed in the 2015 ITU Sprint World Triathlon Grand Final days before a car race in Chicago.

Jimmie Johnson is a driving superstar. He’s been on the pro circuit since 2002 and has racked up dozens of wins and credits some of his driving prestige to his triathlon training and racing. While Kona falls in the middle of the racing season, he looks forward to life after driving in hopes of being in Hawaii for the world champs.

Kasey Kahne beat out Jimmy Johnson in the Charleston Sprint Triathlon by 17 seconds in a time of 1:11:30 perhaps creating some on track rivalry at the next event.

Tony Kanaan finished the 2011 Ironman World Championships in a time of 12:52. Crediting triathlon training as a benefit when he’s behind the race car wheel, the NASCAR driver has accompanied his Kona appearance with a number of Ironman 70.3 events.

Formula One

Jenson Button, the 2009 Formula One world champion, has competed in a number of Ironman 70.3 events, finishing Ironman 70.3 California in 4:29:00.

Alex Zanardi, the former Formula One driver turned Ironman World Champion (handcyclem) is an Italian Paralympian who lost both his legs in a car accident in 2001. The inspiring athlete jumped into handcycling racing and quickly rose to become one of the most accomplished hand cyclist’s with major wins at the Paralympics, marathons and full-distance races. In 2020 Zanardi was put into a medically induced coma after a collision with a vehicle while training. The Italian is still recovering from the accident, but Italian media said Zanardi was responding to stimuli in December.

So if a handful of race car drivers credit triathlon training to their driving abilities, perhaps we should be backing the worlds best triathlon pros to give driving a try. Tom Boonen, a former Belgian cycling pro, retired and gave car racing a go. Who do you nominate from the tri world to make the move?