GOTD: NASCAR Driver First Names

NASCAR drivers have some unique names, but I hadn’t appreciated the full range of names until now. I’m teaching myself Python. Excel has its limitations, especially in pulling together data from long periods of time from different sources. (Also: Excel hates me.)

Why Driver Names?

I’m doing a study of what we can expect from the rookie class. I gathered data from NASCAR drivers from 1949 to the present, which produced one file with all the drivers’ names.

It was interesting to see names came in and out of fashion.

So, for a start, here’s a word cloud with the most popular driver names from 1949-present. I’ve included anyone who’s ever run a NASCAR race and I’ve gone by how the driver bills him (or her) self, which means I didn’t separate out Bill, Billy, William, etc.

A wordcloud of NASCAR driver names.
The more frequent the name, the bigger the text!

Other Name Observations

A couple other observations from the 2928 names that are in the database:

  • The most popular names match up pretty well with the most popular male names in the US. There is a definite slant toward those names popular in the southeast (as you would expect).
  • The most frequent names are Biblical names and their derivatives. Those names remain among the most popular male names in the US.
    • There are 7 Marks, 6 Matts (no actual Mathews), 62 Johns (and one Juan Pablo), but no Lukes.
  • Among the unique names: Hut, Possum, Spook, Stew, Perry, Tanner, Talmadge, Parnelli, Chauncey, Dawson, Stick, Dink, Danica, Bayley, Ansel, Kasey and Judge
  • There are more ‘Cotton’s (5) and ‘Rusty’s (3) in NASCAR than ‘Kasey’s (1)
  • There are also more ‘Brad’s (4) than ‘Chase’s (1)
  • Among driver names based on ‘John’, there are 62 ‘John’s and 40 ‘Johnny’s, but only one ‘Jon’
  • We have only one ‘Adam’, which seems appropriate.
  • If you combine all variations:
    • The most frequent name if you combine all variations is ‘Bob‘ , with 156. That includes Boris, which is the Russian version.
    • The second most frequent name is ‘William’, with 153. 129 of those are ‘Bill’.

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