Why Kyle Larson includes a beetle on every car he drives

Athletes, in general, tend to be a superstitious bunch, and NASCAR drivers are no different. Take the little bug that connects Cup Series champion Kyle Larson across generations and racing series with three-time Indianapolis 500 champion Johnny Rutherford, who won “The Greatest Spectacle in Sports” at the famous Brickyard in 1974, 1976 and 1980.

Since Larson’s childhood racing days, his cars have carried a representation of a Beetle somewhere on board, thanks to his father, Mike Larson. When his son started racing, the elder Larson recalled an Indy 500 story about how a Beetle landed on Rutherford before his 1980 win at The Brickyard and made sure Kyle Larson’s riders included the depiction a ladybug on board for good luck.

Ladybugs are believed to be good omens in many cultures, and when one landed in Rutherford ahead of its third Indy 500 victory, it told its crew that everyone was “racing for the second. This statement turned out to be prophetic.

Kyle Larson’s dad always made sure a ladybug accompanies his son

Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, attends qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on April 23, 2022 | James Gilbert/Getty Images

The Beetle tradition with the Larsons began when Kyle Larson started out in open wheel, Silver Crown and sprint midget cars and continued as he progressed through the NASCAR ranks in the Truck and Xfinity Series.

Now his Cup Series #5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro is also racing with a beetle for luck. Even some of Larson’s t-shirts and other memorabilia include ladybugs somewhere in the design.

Superstition has become tradition for the Larsons, who met Rutherford decades after the Beetle landed on the freewheeling legend, and he drove the Chaparral “Yellow Submarine” to Victory Lane in 1980, according to a NASCAR story. .com by Zack Albert.

Albert wrote that the Larsons and Rutherfords met at the Chili Bowl and shared how Rutherford’s good fortune had inspired their own Ladybug legacy.

“Rutherford shared a laugh and wished them luck, bringing the origin story full circle,” Albert wrote.

Larson certainly wasn’t the only NASCAR driver with a superstition.

While the Ladybug has been a good omen for the Larsons and Rutherfords, some drivers are focusing on pre-race meals, clothing or things to do to avoid bad luck.

For example, for decades drivers shunned green cars after the 1920 death of Gaston Chevrolet in a green car in a racing accident in Beverly Hills, California. A decade earlier, Lee Oldfield, driving a green car, ran off the track and killed several spectators during a race in Syracuse, New York.

Retired NASCAR driver Sterling Marlin ate a bologna sandwich before his Daytona 500 victory in 1994 and again before his Daytona victory in 1995, making it a pre-race superstition.

Former Formula 1 driver Alexander Wurz, a two-time Le Mans winner, wore different colored shoes as a driver, a ritual believed to bring good luck.

Ever since the fatal crash that killed NASCAR great Joe Weatherly in 1964 at Riverside International Raceway, some drivers have avoided $50 bills. Weatherly supposedly had a pair of $50 bills in his fire suit when he was killed. Dale Earnhardt Sr. was reportedly one of those who followed this practice — or didn’t follow, as the case may be.

Some drivers also harbor superstitions involving peanuts, lucky charms and the number 13.

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