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CrossFitter Jusan Hamilton Makes NASCAR History During Daytona 500

March 9, 2022 by
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The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season began on February 20 with the 64th running of the Daytona 500, which rookie Austin Cindric won over Bubba Wallace in a stunning finish. Jusan Hamilton, 31, who regularly trains at a CrossFit box, became both the youngest person to serve as race director for the season-opening race, as well as the first African American.

One big thing: The Daytona 500 is the first race on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule, but it is the biggest event of the year. It has the biggest crowd at more than 100,000 attendees, a full week of festivities leading up to the race, and it is one of the sport’s four coveted Crown Jewels.

Hamilton’s job during the race is to make important decisions about penalties, caution flags, and race procedures without creating controversy. He decides when to send cleaning crews out onto the track, whether to penalize drivers for a wide variety of infractions, and whether to throw the red flag during poor weather conditions. 

  • Hamilton has experience as a race director in the top-level Cup Series, the Camping World Truck Series, and the Xfinity Series. He has called previous races at Auto Club Speedway in California and Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania. One of his wildest races was the 2020 trip to the Charlotte Roval – part oval, part road course – that took place under a torrential downpour. 
  • To prepare for the biggest moment of his career, Hamilton spent the past six Daytona 500s watching another race director work from the scoring tower. He also took copious notes throughout the years while embracing his new role. 
  • Hamilton was a key figure in the first-ever NASCAR race held inside of the LA Memorial Coliseum, the home of the USC Trojans. He made six cross country flights to figure out the logistics of a unique event featuring special concerts, a quarter-mile short track, and the debut of a new car. 

Hamilton is only the third person in the past 30 years to serve as race director for the Daytona 500. He currently shares duties with Tim Bermann, who called the 2020 and 2021 races while David Hoots previously enjoyed a 31-year run as race director. 

High speeds and heavy weights: There has been a significant crossover between NASCAR and CrossFit in recent years. Drivers, executives, pit crews alike have incorporated the training style into their routines in order to prepare for grueling races inside cockpits ranging from 120 to 140 degrees. 

  • CrossFit Mayhem sponsored Austin Dillon for an Xfinity Series race at Watkins Glen International and covered the No. 23 Our Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro with a Mayhem Athlete scheme. 
  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr., a two-time winner in the Cup Series, is an avid CrossFitter. He regularly trains with drivers younger than him but beats them in workouts, whether they are altered versions of Murph, Filthy 50, or any number of other fan-favorites. 
  • Chris Rice, the president of Kaulig Racing, has lost more than 50 pounds while attending CrossFit classes. He puts clips of himself doing WODS on social media with the goal of inspiring others to focus on health. 

Why this matters: Successfully serving in this high-pressure role is an incredibly difficult task, but Hamilton successfully balances his role with raising two daughters, helping his wife Charis open a maternal pelvic physical therapy practice in Port Orange, and managing NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program that provides opportunities in racing to minority and female drivers and pit crew members. He also puts an emphasis on his health with CrossFit. 

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