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AthleteI'm NASCAR driver Matthew DiBenedetto. AMA

May 9th 2017 by MattDiBenedetto • 15 Questions • 1113 Points

My short bio: I am riding the favorite, Classic Empire, in the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 6, at Churchill Downs. Since starting my riding career in 2005 after coming to the U.S. from France, I have won more than 2,300 races and $139-million in purses but never the Kentucky Derby. I will answer questions at noon ET (9a PT) on Tuesday, May 2!

My Proof: http://www.brisnet.com/brisnet_promos/LeparouxAMA.jpg

Q:

Hey DiBuritto! Love it when you stop by /r/NASCAR.

A few years ago in 2015 during a rain delay at Bristol you said you wish you could "marry" Bristol Motor Speedway; as you were having a good race that night. And then a year later at Bristol in 2016, you had an even better race got a career best finish of 6th. Sparking an emotional post-race interview, the creation of your reddit presence, a TON of fan support (especially over on /r/NASCAR), recognition from everyone around the NASCAR garage, and now in 2017 you're with a new team to which you scored a top 10 in the Daytona 500! So my question is a simple one; do you still want to marry Bristol? It seems like the track has done a lot for you in the past few years.

I wish you the best of luck in following in the footsteps of /u/dogedriver in representing Reddit as best as you can in the All-Star race!

Fan vote portal for those who want to vote for Matt or your favorite fan vote eligible driver.

A:

Thanks for responding.


Q:

Thank you! It has been overwhelming to see how much my fan base has grown and all the folks on Reddit are so dedicated!

And yes, I would still like to marry Bristol! It has been great to me over the years and helps us small teams run better than normal!

A:

PinchBetter: Carina Mia is supposed to run her first race back since Breeders' Cup. I'm also in the Kentucky Oaks with Daddy's Lil Darling -JL

Other than Classic Empire in the Derby, who else are you excited about riding this weekend?


Q:

I've always wondered, when you are taking a turn at speed - do you relax and let the belts hold you in place or do you use your core muscle group to try and fight the centripetal force?

A:

/u/pinchbetter reply


Q:

Interesting question: honestly you are so strapped in and supported by the seat and belts that you don't hardly move at all. It all keeps you perfectly in place through the G forces!

A:

From yesterday: "I ride since I'm 6, currently 19. I've never had a scary experience with horses, but I'm so afraid of speed that I don't ride horses that aren't "safe". It's really difficult for me to have trust in a horse, and obviously it shouldn't. Have you got any advice on how to manage speed when something bad happens, or when the horse is scared?"

The main thing is to trust your horse and have faith in him, and you'll lose the fear naturally. Trust your horse to gain his trust. -JL


Q:

Thanks for the AMA Matt!

2 questions for you:

  1. If you weren't a race car driver, what occupation would you have?

  2. With so many people cord cutting and moving toward streaming services, would NASCAR benefit from moving to dedicated independent live streams, or a dedicated service such as what the WWE does with their live network?

A:

/u/mybangbang reply


Q:

1) that is a great question! I would probably do something on TV because I love interacting with folks and I enjoy public speaking

2) I haven't thought of that but I think that is a direction that would be beneficial!

A:

Ruddiver: It's more about how the horse will perform that day. Now I have more experience in the race, so I'm not as nervous as I was earlier in my career. -JL

Do you feel more pressure being the favorite? or is it all about how the horse performs that you worry about?


Q:

Hey Matt,

Have you sent your resume to Rick Hendrick yet? I hear they may have a job opening next year.

A:

/u/ruddiver reply


Q:

You bet I have!! We should get everyone on Reddit to flood Hendrick with mail requesting me to take over the 88 haha

A:

@Runs_n_goses: A little bit, but not too too much. Not in a race. Florent Geroux and I like to mess with each other but not anyone else. It's a friendly rivalry. -JL

How much trash talking is there in the jockey lounge area before races? Also, any trash talking happen during the race?


Q:

Do you and your PR girl Ryan ever have competitions/debates over who is the better driver?

Also I love the Jeffrey Earnhardt sticker on your Chevy. 10/10

A:

For Reddit, use /u/ instead of an @ symbol. For example, /u/RichardBachman


Q:

Haha yea Ryan always makes fun of himself and says he sucks at driving and I do the same to myself so I'm not sure! Lol

A:

sixfourthree: We are handicapping to win the race--see what we need to do to beat the favorite. Put the horse in best spot to win the race. -JL

What exactly do jockeys look for when handicapping a race they're about to run in?


Q:

The 32 car definitely has improved this season with you behind the wheel. I know there is some partnership with RPM. Are the cars you are running this season RPM #44 cars from last season? Keep up the good work!

A:

Thanks Julian!


Q:

Yea we did purchase some used cars from RPM which have helped some but we have a good group of people who are all trying to make a lot out of a small team!

A:

downeastkid: Classic Empire first, State of Honor, and Irish War Cry

What horse would you pick in your trifecta?


Q:

If I put DiBeneditto on my fusions windshield does it help my chances? http://imgur.com/vpQwdqc I can't put J. Earnhardt because I drive to fast. If you don't run this for the all star race I'll be at Chicago and Indy. If you had the chance to run the Indy 500 would you? Have you ever been approached to run a different series?

A:

Hmm was thinking tossing State of Honor, but I at least have to try this bet!


Q:

Haha yes put my name on the windshield!!

And yea I would definitely run the Indy 500 if it was ever a possibility!

A:

MostlyH20: I've been fortunate to be on a lot of good fillies. Classic Empire we find the perfect exercise rider for him that gets along good. They respect each other, and it's been going good since then. We're a team. -JL

Thanks for doing this! I've always appreciated your thoughtful, kind hand with your mounts- do you think that has been a significant factor in your success with fillies & mares? Similarly, Classic Empire is reputed to be a bit... erm... strong minded. Have you & Casse come up with any unique methods to get him running when you need him to and not just when he wants to?


Q:

What is your first memory that involves racing?

Also, what's you favorite movie?

A:

/u/mostlyh20 reply


Q:

I remember my dad passing by NASCAR on TV and I made him go back to it and watch the whole race when I was five years old and nobody in my family had ever watched it in their lives

A:

PAdogooder: Not really yet but feel like I will when my son is growing up -JL

Julien! You're my favorite jockey and I will often bet a horse just because you're on him- Louisville native here.

Question: do you ever ride horseback in other styles or for fun? Trail riding or jumping?


Q:

Probably an odd question, but asking anyway: Some people would consider you an expert in managing fear. Based on what you've learned about that very issue, what advice would you have for those of us that don't drive NASCAR (!), to manage our own day-to-day fears?

A:

/u/padogooder reply


Q:

Honestly, I think is racers are just complete adrenaline junkies and we are borderline insane when we put a helmet on! In normal life situations I'm not that way haha

A:

kocomma: Top 10 jockeys get best opportunities to ride better horses, but it's also the top jockeys make less mistakes on big day racing -JL

What makes the difference between the top jockeys (e.g. top 10 money earners) and the rest? What do you do differently in a race that sets you apart from the others?


Q:

What car is on your bucket list to drive one day?

A:

What made you want to ride horses? What made you keep the interest in horse riding?


Q:

Superlite SL-C. Look them up...it's a custom car that I want badly!!

A:

colhurts: There's a lot. There's many horses I wish I rode. American Pharoah, Zenyatta, all the big horses are the ones you want to be on. -JL

Which horse that you didnt get to ride do you really really wish you could've ridden?


Q:

I did go pro work on one of these at a 1/2 mile land speed event in GA. Beautiful.

A:

What made you want to ride horses? What made you keep the interest in horse riding?


Q:

That is awesome!! My PR person Ryan is best friends with the owner of Superlite. Their cars are amazing!

A:

amb326: I'm not sure, but he wore them in the Arkansas Derby -JL

Do you know why Classic Empire is now wearing glue on shoes?


Q:

Hey Matt! I have your signed car displayed proudly in my office, thanks again!

Here's my question - you get to create an exhibition race. What track do you select, and what era of cars would you compete in?

A:

Are TBs your favorite breed? Are there any other breeds you particularly like?


Q:

Current dirt late models at Eldora!

And thank you for having my signed car!

A:

moaia66: My passion for it. I group up around horse racing. I always loved it and always wanted to be a jockey. Obviously I'm lucky with my size, too. -JL

Was it your physical attributes that lead you to the sport? A love of riding? A combination of some sort?


Q:

Hey Matt, here from /r/NASCAR. Also here to promote my nomination for your Reddit scheme at Charlotte.

How did you first hear about Reddit's spontaneous adoption of you as its favorite driver? It was definitely around the time of your 6th place last year at Bristol, but when did you first catch wind of the phenomenon?

Thanks for doing the AMA :)

A:

Are TBs your favorite breed? Are there any other breeds you particularly like?


Q:

It was when I was wearing the Reddit/dogecoin shirt and I posted a picture on twitter. Some friends on Reddit told me that everyone loved it and I couldn't believe the response it got! And then after Bristol it was overwhelming how much everyone embraced an underdog driving for a small team like me!

A:

skibonit: Hopefully not but never say never. I wouldn't mind being like Mike Smith and getting to ride whichever horse I want. -JL

Do you hope to still be riding in your 50's like Stevens & Smith?


Q:

Thanks for taking the time to answer!

A:

How excited are you for Channing?


Q:

Of course! Thank you for hopping in here!

A:

iwas99x: Those are the best ones. After that, any Grade 1 -JL

Mr.Leparoux, outside of the triple crown and breeders' cup, what is the best race and why?


Q:

What did you think of Reddit before you joined? Had you heard of it?


Q:

I had heard of it and I always wanted to check it out because all my friends that were on it would tell me how knowledgeable everyone is on here and clever. I am so glad I joined because I have never come across a more dedicated/loyal community!

A:

iwas99x: I really enjoyed Go-Karting but now spend a lot more time with my family and son.

Leparoux,What are your hobbies outside of work?


Q:

Burrito can you make sure whoever is in charge of this stuff at GoFas knows we need #32 Reddit T Shirts and hats? Please Get them online and in the Fanatics tent and all that we'd be all over those!

A:

That would be very cool! Maybe we can work on that...I actually have an idea now that you said that. I will get to work!


Q:

You seem like such a wholesome guy. Don't let that big money contract go to your head when you get it!

A:

I definitely will never become like that! I have had to work the old school way to get here and I wouldn't be where I am without the fans and I will never forget that. I honestly have fun meeting all the fans and interacting with them at the races and on social media!


Q:

If you were in control of NASCAR for one day, what would you change? You are awesome! Thank you for answering our questions!

A:

Thank you!

I would make it easier for the small teams to compete somehow. It stinks having the same few powerhouse teams winning all the races! But unfortunately that's not an easy fix and I don't have the solution haha


Q:

Hey Matt! Of course we love seeing you on /r/NASCAR, but it's awesome to see you all over Reddit too!

I have a couple questions for you:

  1. What do you think we as fans of the sport can do to get non fans to take the chance and come to a race?

  2. Do you think the presence of Monster as the primary sponsor is bringing new eyes to NASCAR?

  3. Would you ever do reality television?

A:

1) that's a great question...I have been meeting so many new fans lately attending their first ever races and they all say they are surprised at how fun and family friendly the races are which is the word we need to continue to spread!

2) I think Monster is a huge help for bringing in the younger generation and we are lucky to have them

3) absolutely! I love doing anything TV related


Q:

Matthew, what cool free perks and swag have you gotten from your sponsors?

A:

Can-Am just gave me a new Maverick x3 side by side!!! I grew up riding dirt bikes and four wheelers so that was literally the best present in the world. Many videos to come! I just picked it up last week


Q:

Matthew, how often do people mispell and mispronounce your name and what are the most bizarre misspellings and mispronunciations'?

A:

ALL THE TIME. The most bizarre is when they say it like "DIE-BENNN-EEEEETO"


Q:

Tacos or burritos?

A:

BURRITOS!!!!


Q:

How are you still married to Taylor with that air horn and Jeffrey Earnhardt window sticker?

A:

Hahahahahaha that is a great question!!!


Q:

I watch a lot of F1 and V8 supercars that race on circuits (street and road courses) and i dont understand the difficulty of racing on an oval, as an outsider looking in i assumed it would be relatively easy for a driver to transition to racing on ovals however every driver that seems to go from road courses to ovals seems to struggle. Can you please explain the challenges and difficulties of racing on an oval?..thanks

A:

Great question! The ovals take a lot of smooth calculated driving and searching around for the fastest lines. It's just such a different style of driving and you are right on the edge at all times and it is tough. Best example of a huge difference: running 2" from the wall packing air up against it trying to make speed at tracks like California, Darlington, etc. this is a bad description but oval racing is tougher than it appears haha


Q:

First car?

A:

2006 Ford Mustang!


Q:

Which is your opinion about the debut of Fernando Alonso in Indy?

A:

I think it is very cool!


Q:

Matthew, after the Dayton 500, what is the race you most want to win on the NASCAR schedule and why?

A:

Bristol night race for sure. That track is just special to me and everyone knows how tough that track is. Close to that would also be the Southern 500 at Darlington


Q:

I believe FAS stands for one of the team owner's (the original team owner, Frank Stoddard) initials (Frank Allen Stoddard)

A:

Correct ^ he answered for me haha. But Archie St. Hilaire is the owner of the team. He lives up in Maine and his son Mason is our general manager. It's a small family team and they truly love racing which is what makes it all that much more satisfying when we outrun some of the big teams! We only have 15 employees total and they are such great people


Q:

Do you think Landon Cassill can build a castle?

A:

He better be able to or else he is a fraud


Q:

What kind of music do you listen to, favorite artists or bands?

How great did it feel to slip right between bayne and truex sunday? Or more a string of profanity then "Oh my god Im through" ?

Have you ever went incognito and partied in camping at a track? If you ever get the chance, go party it up infield at MIS, its the greatest. Cup drivers have come around, as have xfinity drivers, Friday and Saturday night are parties! I know a place to get some awesome food and drink if you ever do!

Ill be there 3 in a row, Dover, Pocono, and MIS! Messing around in photoshop with car design now! Best of luck and appreciate the AMA!

Link for the All Star vote,bc you can vote everyday people

A:

I was so relieved to make it through that wreck!!

And I have actually been wanting to do that in the infield at a track and Michigan might just be the place for me to do that now that you mention it! You should hit me up and I might have to stop by.


Q:

Hey Matt, shouting from /r/NASCAR.

I've always been very skeptical of you and your talent, but you have totally proven me wrong. You are elevating a single-car team that struggled to finish races last year with impressive top-20 finishes. So, I ask, if given the right opportunity with a top tier team, how far do you think you could get? Playoffs? Playoff contender? Final Four contender?

A:

Thank you it means a lot! If given a ride with a powerhouse team I know I can win races and compete for championships one day. But for now I'm climbing the ladder the old school way!


Q:

What kind of engine is in your car and how much power does it make?

A:

We run Roush Yates engines and they won't tell us the power haha. Somewhere close to 800 I believe


Q:

Hey Matt! I've got a question!!

What is your Favorite Memory in NASCAR or Racing in general?

Thank You!!

A:

Finishing 6th at Bristol!


Q:

Matthew, in the future would you like to race in a famous non NASCAR race like the Indy 500, 24 Hours of Lemans, 12 Hours of Sebring, Baja 1000 or some other big race?

A:

Absolutely...honestly I would like to race in all that you listed! Especially the 24 hours of Lemans


Q:

Matthew, how often are you on Reddit and what are your favorite subreddits? How often do you browse r/NASCAR? Do people on the Go Fas race team browse Reddit and r/NASCAR?

A:

I am browsing r/NASCAR every day honestly and I always randomly pop in and comment on stuff. My favorite is on Monday mornings seeing what fun stuff is on there about the race the previous day.

And I have now gotten some of our guys on Reddit and informed them of what it's all about. Of course my PR guy Ryan is on here all the time haha


Q:

Matthew, does your mom get nervous about you racing or is she used to and relaxed about it?

A:

She gets insanely nervous


Q:

Hey Matt, thanks for doing this! I got a chance to hang around with some of the crew at Daytona but didn't get a chance to say hey. My question is if offered a top Xfinity ride, would you consider taking it? And if so, would you try to run double duty or pick and choose which races youd want to run in both Cup and Xfinity?

A:

I will always choose being full time in cup but I would definitely be ok with pulling double duty sometimes!


Q:

Matt, do you believe more fan interaction is needed by fans and who do you believe (outside of you) is the best at this?

A:

I couldn't agree more!! We need more engagement directly with fans from drivers. I'm not sure who else does it a lot, Carl Edwards was one of the best to his fans at track. Also...Brad Keselowski is very good about interacting with his fans and he is extremely respectful to them. He is a great guy


Q:

What is your favorite movie series?

A:

Movie series might have to be Star Wars

Favorite movies in general are The Shawshank Redemption and Forrest Gump


Q:

Hi there, Matt!

Let's say NASCAR has decided to host a 24-hour endurance race. At what track would you want this to happen and who would you want to share the car with?

A:

I would choose Mid Ohio Sports Car Course and my teammate would be Allmendinger!