NASCAR Baby Names: Racing Towards the Right Name

NASCAR Baby Names: Racing Towards the Right Name

This week, AppellationMountain‘s Abby Sandel finds baby-name inspiration racing around the Daytona International Speedway.

Did you see newcomer Trevor Bayne win the Daytona 500 last week? 

Me neither. 

NASCAR might seem like an unlikely place to look for baby name inspiration.  But if moms suggest ideas while dads exercise veto power, maybe choices with a tie to the racetrack are more likely to pass muster than those from Jane Austen novels.

Here are some choices culled from the current season, which kicked off earlier this month, as well as some from NASCAR’s history.  They’re more wearable than you might think.


ColemanColman is a saintly Irish heritage choice.  Coleman Pressley is part of a family of NASCAR drivers.

Elliott – A gentle name ultimately derived from the Biblical Elijah, Elliott picks up his racing stripes thanks to veteran driver Elliott Sadler.  The Elliot spelling is slightly more popular today, but both versions are rising quickly.

Kelly – Could Kelly make a comeback for boys?  Pro surfing gave us Kelly Slater, while NASCAR includes Wisconsin-born rookie Kelly Bires.

Kurt – Sure, Kurt sings with Finn and Quinn on TV’s Glee.  But he’s also part of the Busch family.  Both Kurt and younger brother Kyle have followed in their father’s footsteps.

Marcos – Australia’s Marcos Ambrose has competed internationally.  His given name is equally well traveled.

Martin – A long-neglected classic, Martin has possibilities.  There’s Martin Luther King, Martin Scorsese, Martin Lawrence, and even NASCAR’s Martin Truex, Jr.

Reed – Former Rookie of the Year Reed Sorenson’s given name has a long history of use.  He sounds elegant and masculine at once.

Trevor – At just 20 years old, Trevor Bayne made history as the youngest driver to win the Daytona 500.  Trevor peaked in the 1990s, but if Bayne’s success continues, his name could make a comeback.


Bruton – Bruton Smith built Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1959.  Most NASCAR teams are based in the Charlotte area, making it the sport’s home track.

CaleCale Yarborough won the Daytona 500 four times between 1968 and 1984.  Only Richard Petty has more wins.  Cale and Kale sound very current today, but for the driver it was a nickname.  Yarborough was born William Caleb

HarleyHarley is better associated with motorcycles, but the winner of the Daytona 500 walks away with the Harley J. Earl Trophy, named after a former NASCAR commissioner and famed Corvette designer.

Rex – White was an early NASCAR star, earning the title Grand National Champion in 1960.  My favorite part of his bio?  He fell in love with cars while working on his family’s Model T.

SterlingSterling Marlin won the Daytona 500 back-to-back, in 1995 and 1996.

Winston – Before it was the Sprint Cup, drivers put pedal to the metal to take home the Winston Cup.  Today the name conjures up the British prime minister, but the racing reference lends him a touch of Americana, too.

 If it turns out that you’re expecting a daughter?  Well, there’s always Danica.

About the Author

Linda Rosenkrantz

Linda Rosenkrantz

Linda Rosenkrantz is the co-founder of Nameberry, and co-author with Pamela Redmond of the ten baby naming books acknowledged to have revolutionized American baby naming. You can follow her personally at InstagramTwitter and Facebook. She is also the author of the highly acclaimed New York Review Books Classics novel Talk and a number of other books.