net worth racing Drivers

The Highest-Paid Motorsport Drivers to Ever Grace the Grid


| LAST UPDATE 10/01/2023

By Evelyn Martinez

Motorsport drivers are among the highest-paid athletes in any sport, and some have even amassed fortunes that made our jaws drop. Per Celebrity Net Worth, here's who has the highest net worth of them all.

30. Kurt Busch: $70 million

NASCAR Cup Champion Kurt Busch is starting our list strong, and with annual career earnings between $5.9 and $8.5 million from racing alone, he proves being a top driver makes a pretty penny.

Kurt Busch NASCAR DriverKurt Busch NASCAR Driver
Jon Durr /NASCAR via Getty Images

A controversial figure for his quick temper and tendency to crash, Busch may be known for his driving record and impressive wins. Still, he’s certainly more famous for his aggressive style and fights with other teams and the media. Being boring doesn’t pay the bills in racing, and Kurt is one of the most entertaining drivers.

29. Carl Edwards: $70 million

If you don't recognize Carl Edwards, the best way to remember him is as the driver who does a backflip after winning a race. A sprint racer for NASCAR, Edwards' earnings range from $1.3 million from the Nextel Cup to $38.3 million at the Sprint Cup. With a relatively short career, more is needed to place him higher on our list.

Carl Edwards NASCAR wealthCarl Edwards NASCAR wealth
Bennett Raglin via Getty Images

Edwards might be the only driver to plunge into acting, with a small role in the 2017 film Logan Lucky. With more appearances on WWE Raw, The Price is Right, and Chicago Fire, perhaps Edwards wanted to be on screen all along. With a backflipper's showmanship, Edwards knows how to excite a crowd.

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28. Kyle Busch: $80 million

Representing the Busch family, Kurt’s brother, Kyle, may be the junior member of the racing family, but he is undoubtedly just as successful. With 63 NASCAR Cup victories and a record 102 wins in the Xfinity series, Busch has smashed records and cemented himself as one of the most excellent drivers ever.

Kyle Busch NASCAR net worthKyle Busch NASCAR net worth
Gregory Bojorquez via Getty Images

Through his $20 million sponsorship with the chocolate Mars bar, Busch is often referred to as ‘The CandyMan.’ Busch continues to race for the NASCAR series. Considering he is earning $16.9 million every season, more than any other NASCAR driver, can we blame him?

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27. David Coulthard: $80 million

With 13 Grand Prix wins and 62 podiums, David Coulthard made a name for himself in F1 history. Better known as ‘DC,’ although Coulthard never took home a championship, he scored himself a runner-up title with McLaren in 2001. Coulthard is famous for securing Red Bull’s first-ever Grand Prix win.

David Coulthard F1 worthDavid Coulthard F1 worth
Michelle Moore via Getty Images

Coulthard’s luck didn’t stop there. After retiring from the thrills of F1, he turned his attention to Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters. He raced for three seasons on an annual salary of $5.4 million before finally calling it quits on driving. Coulthard next got a neat gig at Channel 4, becoming an F1 commentator on a $540k salary.

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26. Danica Patrick: $80 million

In 2008, driver Danica Patrick made racing history when she became the only female driver to ever take home an IndyCar 3000 race win. In the years following her still intact record, Patrick began earning $10 million annually, with $7.5 million from her driving salary alone. 

Danica Patrick Indy worthDanica Patrick Indy worth
Matthew Eisman via Getty Images

With the help of sponsorships from Chevrolet, Coca-Cola,, and many more, Patrick became one of the most successful drivers and an inspiration for any girl driver. Following her partial retirement in 2017, Patrick launched a successful fashion line and a podcast for racing fans with an extensive fan base.

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25. Bobby Rahal: $80 million

Bobby Rahal relished driving so much that he snatched three different CART championships, including Indy 500, Daytona, and endurance racing - and won Rookie of the Year during his first year of racing. Rahal made his name in the sport with eighteen pole positions and more than $16 million in collective earnings from winnings.

Bobby Rahal CART EarningsBobby Rahal CART Earnings
Bob Riha Jr via Getty Images

Rahal didn’t stop at CART racing; he also drove for F1 as a reserve driver at two Grand Prix in 1978. Following retirement, Rahal earned a bit more money as a manager for an F1 former team, Jaguar, and even acted as a president for CART. He also co-owns his own IndyCar series. 

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24. Max Verstappen: $85 million

The freshest face on our list but an F1 driver with the opportunity to trump them all, Max Verstappen makes race driving look easy. With hat-tricks, 48 wins and counting, Verstappen is F1’s most impressive addition. 17-year-old Verstappen started racing in F1 before he could legally drive in the Netherlands.

Max Verstappen Career EarningsMax Verstappen Career Earnings
@maxverstappen1 via Instagram

Earning $55 million annually at Red Bull with a recently renewed contract until 2027, it seems Verstappen is set for his life, his kids’ lives, and their kids’ lives, too. Before his upgraded check in 2022, Verstappen earned $25 million annually. Verstappen made it with two Championship wins and a third on the horizon. 

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23. Tony Stewart: $90 million

Hot-tempered Tony Stewart is the only motorsport driver with championship wins in multiple motorsports, having won four titles in NASCAR and one in Indycar. Stewart has also competed in Daytona races, midget racing, sprint racing, and Superstar Racing Experiences and has absolutely commanded all of them. 

Tony Stewart Salary NASCARTony Stewart Salary NASCAR
@tsrsmoke via Instagram

Stewart’s NASCAR tenure and record wins made him a legend, but his career earnings have secured a life of ease. The multi-talented driver earned $130 million in prize money alone. For every NASCAR Cup Stewart attained, he pocketed between $1.2 and $7.1 million, and he won 16 of them. 

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22. Nigel Mansell: $90 million

Nigel Mansell may have only secured one F1 Championship, but he is still considered one of the strongest drivers ever to grace the grid. Mansell began his career at Alpine (formerly Lotus), flourished at Williams, and dominated the game during his tenure at Renault and Haas. 

Nigel Mansell F1 PayNigel Mansell F1 Pay
Tony Bock via Getty Images

When Mansell signed to drive for Williams, he made $14.5 million annually (adjusted for inflation), making him the highest-paid British athlete until Lewis Hamilton eventually dethroned him. Mansell also had the record for the most amount of poles before Sebastian Vettel surpassed him in 2011.

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21. Rubens Barrichello: $100 million

Fated to be second-best to his famous teammates, Rubens Barrichello still had a career most drivers would envy. While he lacked a championship title during his tenure at Ferrari, he is attributed to five constructor titles for the team. Through his teamwork, Jensen Button and Michael Schumacher earned titles for themselves. 

Rubens Barrichello F1 worthRubens Barrichello F1 worth
ullstein bild via Getty Images

Even without clinching an F1 title win, Barrichello continues to race in the Stock Car Pro Series and secured a win in the 2022 championship. In the later years of his career, Honda, Mercedes, and Williams paid Barrichello as much as $12 million annually. Let’s say Barrichello doesn’t have too much to complain about.

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20. Ralf Schumacher: $100 million

The Schumacher family name is both a curse and a blessing for wannabe drivers. In Ralf Schumacher’s case, the name put him on the grid but was not enough to help him dominate the motorsport. Although not as successful as his older brother Michael, Ralf experienced some success in F1. 

Ralf Schumacher F1 earningsRalf Schumacher F1 earnings
ullstein bild via Getty Images

As of 2023, Ralf and Michael are the only siblings to win a Grand Prix in F1. While Ralf never secured a championship win, he averaged 4th-place championship finishes with Williams and Toyota. Ralf made $25 million annually for his three-year term with Toyota before retiring from the sport in 2007 due to weak results.

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19. Martin Brundle: $100 million

Martin Brundle may have been an excellent F1 driver, but he is defined by being a jack of many motorsports. During the 80s, before competing in one motorsport became a full-time gig, Brundle competitively drove for F1, Le Mans, the World Sportscar Championship, and Daytona.

Martin Brundle F1 SalaryMartin Brundle F1 Salary
United Autosports, CC via Wikimedia Commons

Considering his wide range of jobs in motorsports, Brundle’s annual salary was spread out nicely, and he became a household name for racing fans, securing his solid sponsorship deals. After retiring in the early 2000s, Brundle began commenting on racing events for ITV Sport, the BBC, and Sky Sports.

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18. Jody Scheckter: $100 million

Having only completed four years in F1, Scehkter’s career was concise but no less imposing given his World Championship win with Ferrari, runner-up finish with former team Walter-Wolf, and ten Grand Prix wins. During his short term at Ferrari, Scehkter earned $1 million annually, or $4.25 million when adjusted for inflation. 

Jody Schekter Net WorthJody Schekter Net Worth
Heritage Images via Getty Images

Scehkter’s time at F1 ended partly due to a ban on South African drivers, given the country’s unwillingness to end its oppressive regime. In a period where Niki Lauda and James Hunt dominated the sport, Scehkter was still a memorable driver and remains the only African-born racer to win a Championship. 

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17. Connie Kalitta: $100 million

Connie Kalitta is now better known for his business pursuits, including creating Kalitta Air and Kalitta Motorsports, but the former drag racer’s career is just as impressive. During the peak of his racing career in the '60s and '70s, Kalitta was the first driver to go faster than 200 miles per hour in a Hot Rod race.

Connie Kalitta Net WorthConnie Kalitta Net Worth
The Enthusiast Network via Getty Images

Known by his nickname ‘The Bounty Hunter’ for his unwavering pursuit of race wins, Kalitta’s impressive resume and list of championship wins is no joke. When he transitioned to team ownership in the 80s, Kalitta Motorsports became one of the most successful teams, and he was responsible for creating stars.

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16. Alexis DeJoria: $100 million

The third highest-earning female athlete and the highest-earning female driver on our list, Alexis DeJoria, made a name in drag racing that motorsport fans are unlikely to forget. Although she does not come from humble origins as the daughter of a billionaire, her career achievements are no less respectable.

Alexis DeJoria net worthAlexis DeJoria net worth
@alexisdejoria via Instagram

Not only is DeJoria one of few women to race in a Funny Car, a car that reaches 330 miles per hour speeds, but she is the only woman to ever achieve under 4 seconds in it. While on contract for Connie Kalitta’s Kalitta Motorsports, she earned between $8 - $9 million annually.

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15. Alain Prost: $100 million

Every great motorsports driver has a cryptic nickname that demonstrates their matchless ability on the road, and Alain Prost is no exception. Labeled ‘The Professor’ for his intellectual decisiveness and strategy, Prost dominated F1 competition in the 80s and earned the former record for most World Championships.

Alain Prost Earnings F1Alain Prost Earnings F1
Rob Croes for Anefo, CC via Wikimedia Commons

Given Prost was the star of F1 before it blew up into the mainstream, his annual career earnings were significantly lower than more recent drivers. Even so, the iconic French driver secured his legacy and was brought on to technically manage McLaren and Renault following his retirement in 1993.

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14. Kevin Harvick: $110 million

Kevin Harvick may be the longest-running active driver in NASCAR history, but his championship win and IndyCar records speak for themselves. Also known ironically as ‘Happy Harvick’ for his random temper outbursts, Harvick’s annual salary has been as high as $12.2 million.

Kevin Harvick NASCAR EarningsKevin Harvick NASCAR Earnings
Zach Catanzareti, CC via Wikimedia Commons

While Harvick earned a good chunk of cash from his yearly NASCAR salary, his generous catalog of brand endorsements makes him stand out. Harvick collaborated with Busch Light, Mobil 1, Ford, and many more. Still kicking on in NASCAR, Harvick has no intention to retire yet.

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13. Eddie Irvine: $120 million

Eddie Irvine, better known as ‘Fast Eddie,’ began his career dominating Formula 3000 before moving to F1. His professional career during F1 was riddled with controversy, and Irvine was considered an unreliable performer on and off the road. All four of his Grand Prix wins occurred in 1999 alone.

Eddie Irvine Annual SalaryEddie Irvine Annual Salary
ullstein bild via Getty Images

Despite sitting in the midfield during his three-year term at Jaguar, he earned $12 million annually from the team. It certainly helps that Irvine invested millions into property before becoming a driver. Still, his success on the road and absurdly exaggerated contracts put him so high on our list.

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12. Mario Andretti: $130 million

Italian-born American driver Mario Andretti has made his place in history as one of only three drivers to win championships in F1, NASCAR, Indycar, and the World Sportscar Championship. Andretti has become such a legend that his surname is often used to describe high speed. 

Mario Andretti Salary PayMario Andretti Salary Pay
Bob Riha Jr via Getty Images

For years, Andretti made up to $11 million annually for his unrivaled performances. On top of that, he now owns a handful of gas stations in California and, in classic Italian-American style, owns a Napa Valley vineyard that brings in a fortune yearly. He may be a legend on the road, but Andretti has taste out of the car, too.

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11. Sebastian Vettel: $140 million

Sebastian Vettel remains the youngest driver (at only 23 years old in 2010) to win a Championship. He then became the youngest double-title winner after winning the following year. After four consecutive championship wins and many records, it’s easy to see why he’s considered among the best F1 drivers ever. 

Sebastian Vettel F1 EarningsSebastian Vettel F1 Earnings
Morio, CC via Wikimedia Commons

Despite a downturn in the late 2010s and consistent runner-up finishes to Lewis Hamilton, Vettel still made $40 million during his term at Ferrari and then $17 million annually after moving to Aston Martin. Vettel may have ended his career on the bottom, but his total income means he’s having the last laugh.

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10. Jenson Button: $150 million

Jenson Button spent many years sitting in the midfield of Formula 1, flipping between Williams, Renault, Mercedes, and Aston Martin. After surprising the world with 7-streak race wins in 2009, Button managed to clinch the championship win for Mercedes (formerly Brawn GP), with an 11-point lead over then rookie Vettel.  

Jenson Button F1 PayJenson Button F1 Pay
Richard Bord via Getty Images

During his new contract at McLaren after winning the 2009 WC, Button earned $16.5 million annually. Most drivers will secure high-annual salaries for  2 to 3 years, but Button renewed his contract with McLaren for 7 consecutive years. There was no reason to leave until Button placed 15th in his final season. 

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9. Jimmie Johnson: $160 million

Taking the spot as the highest-paid NASCAR driver for purely driving, Jimmie Johnson has undoubtedly proved he deserves such a mantle. Johnson has his foot in the door of almost every motorsport, with seven NASCAR championship wins and a two-time Daytona Cup winner, and is now trying his luck at IndyCar racing.

Jimmie Johnson Career EarningsJimmie Johnson Career Earnings
Zach Catanzareti Photo, CC via Wikimedia Commons

At the peak of his career, Johnson’s annual salary was $19 million from Hendrick Motorsports. With every win at NASCAR, Johnson and Hendricks have received a bonus prize of $1.2 million. On top of that, sponsorship deals and part-ownership of a Chevy dealership have Johnson set for life.

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8. Valentino Rossi: $200 million

No one knows their way around a motorcycle circuit as well as Italy’s Valentino Rossi. With nine Grand Prix championships, Rossi is considered the most excellent motorcyclist ever. Despite his success on a motorcycle, it hasn’t stopped Rossi from exploring other motorsports, including F1, NASCAR, and rally cars.

Valentino Rossi NASCAR SalaryValentino Rossi NASCAR Salary
motoracereports, CC via Wikimedia Commons

Nicknamed ‘The Doctor’ for his dissection of the competition with relative ease, Rossi’s annual salary in the sport was between $34 - $36 million. With a sponsorship from Honda, Rossie pockets an additional $13 million yearly. While he earns less nowadays ($8 million annually), Rossi is still the highest-paid motorcyclist ever.

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7. Niki Lauda: $200 million

Perhaps better known for his near-mortal crash in 1976, Niki Lauda proved to F1 followers that the sport is no joke. His rivalry with James Hunt from McLaren was one of the fiercest F1 has ever seen. Upon his return to Ferrari following the crash, Lauda was earning between $9 - $12 million annually (adjusted for inflation).

Niki Lauda Net WorthNiki Lauda Net Worth
Heritage Images via Getty Images

Lauda may have earned a fortune for his stellar driving career; however, his invitation to be a non-executive 10% stakeholder in Mercedes in 2012 provided the big bucks. Sadly, he died at just 70 in 2019 from kidney problems from the notorious 1976 crash. Thanks to the Austrian driver, the safety of F1 has improved drastically.

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6. Jeff Gordon: $200 million

With four championship wins and over $500 million in collected earnings from a 24-year career, it’s not hard to see why Jeff Gordon is the name most people associate with NASCAR. Many credit Gordon and his success as a driver in popularising NASCAR for mainstream audiences.

Jeff Gordon Salary earningsJeff Gordon Salary earnings
Scott Gries via Getty Images

Gordon is universally considered the highest-paid NASCAR driver of all time and among the best drivers ever, with three additional Daytona Cup championship wins to cap it off. Having retired in 2015, Gordon now works as a TV announcer and team executive for Hendricks Motorsports.

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5. Kimi Räikkönen: $250 million

Better known by his nickname ‘Iceman’ for his relaxed demeanor and ability to remain calm under extreme pressure, Kimi Räikkönen is notorious for his aggressive and direct driving style. His career began at Sauber and McLaren, flourished at Ferrari, rejuvenated at Williams (formerly Lotus), and ended fittingly at Ferrari.

Kimi Räikkönen Iceman SalaryKimi Räikkönen Iceman Salary
ullstein bild via Getty Images

At his peak, Räikkönen earned between $30 and $45 million from Ferrari and Williams. Finnish in sensibility, Räikkönen hates the press and refuses to pander to them like other drivers do. However, that hasn’t stopped Iceman from securing sponsorship deals with Singha, Oakley, and Wrangler.

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4. Fernando Alonso: $260 million

Hailing from a working-class family, Fernando Alonso showed talent very early on, and it only took the Spanish driver a few years of racing to clinch a title. Before Vettel stole his mantle, Alonso was the youngest winner of a World Championship in 2005 and became the youngest double championship winner a year later. 

Fernando Alonso Net WorthFernando Alonso Net Worth
Mark McArdle, CC via Wikimedia Commons

Since his beginnings at Renault (currently Alpine), Alonso earned as much as $30 million annually. However, since his temporary break from 2019 to 2020, Alonso has taken a salary cut to $5 million. Given that, he has worked hard to secure sponsorship deals, notably with Adidas, Kimoa, and RAW Superdrink.

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3. Lewis Hamilton: $285 million

Arguably the most famous name on our list, Lewis Hamilton has proven seven times he is a world champion F1 driver. Considering he is one of the few names on this list to have no prior familiar connections to motorsports and relatively humble beginnings, Hamilton’s success is wholly attributed to him. 

Lewis Hamilton Net WorthLewis Hamilton Net Worth
Chris Jackson via Getty Images

Hamilton annually earns $50 million, $40 million coming from Mercedes alone. However, it is Hamilton’s unrivalled fame that provides millions in sponsorship deals every year, namely Puma, L’Oreal, and Tommy Hilfiger. Considered a style icon, Hamilton is more likely to be seen in high-fashion outfits than branded F1 attire. 

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2. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: $300 million

Better known as Junior, thanks to his NASCAR legend dad, Dale Earnhardt Jr. may not have success winning, but he certainly knows how to bring home the dollars. Although his yearly income from NASCAR amounted to $28 million has kept him loaded, his commitment to broadcasting puts him at No.2 on our list.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. earningsDale Earnhardt Jr. earnings
Sarah Stierch, CC via Wikimedia Commons

While Junior has five NASCAR championships under his belt, he finished his career with an over-hundred winless race streak. The champion’s hefty net worth is down to inheriting ownership of JR Motorsports after the tragic passing of his father in 2001 during the Daytona 500.

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1. Michael Schumacher ($600 million)

Taking over the top spot as the highest professionally paid driver in any motorsport is German former racing driver Michael Schumacher. Often considered the most significant F1 driver of all time with seven championship wins, it’s not hard to see why he was making between $80 - $100 million each season by the end of his career.

Michael Schumacher F1 PayMichael Schumacher F1 Pay
ullstein bild via Getty Images

Shell paid Schumacher $10 million each year to wear a hat during press appearances at the height of his career. Sadly, the champion driver has been debilitated since 2013 from a severe skiing accident, and the press has not seen him since. He is survived by his son, Mick, who served as a Haas driver in 2021 and 2022. 

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