He may drive 200 miles per hour for a living, but life slows down to a crawl—or at this point, a walk—for NASCAR star Kyle Larson when he's home with his 18-month-old son. A full-time competitor in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series, Larson added "dad" to his list of accomplishments on December 22, 2014, when his girlfriend Katelyn Sweet delivered their first child, Owen Miyata Larson.
With Owen babbling in the background and vying for his daddy's attention—not even celebrity dads have an easy time having adult conversation!—Larson managed to chat with us about his perspective on all things parenting.
Parents.com As a new dad, what has surprised you most about parenthood?
KL: I expected it to be a lot harder in the beginning because everyone warns you about newborns. It was actually fun waking up in the middle of the night and doing all the work and getting the bottles warmed up.
[At this, Kyle's girlfriend, Katelyn, jokingly jumped in with, "He's lying."]
KL: Well, I guess not all the work.... I think as he's gotten more mobile and more active, that has been crazier than I thought it would be.
Are you finding that, now that you have a toddler, you're getting everywhere later than you normally would, or is that unacceptable for a racecar driver?
KL: [Laughing] I wouldn't say I'm any later than I used to be. If anything, I'm on time more to the earlier stuff because my body's used to waking up earlier.
What's the most embarrassing or funniest thing that's happened to you as a parent so far?
KL: I went to change one of his diapers and he was just about done. I was wiping him up, and he farted, and there was some more that came out with it. Got it on my shirt a little, and on my face. It was only specks, but it was still disgusting knowing it was poop.
Do you have any hesitation participating in a dangerous sport now that you're a parent?
KL: I'm not worried about the dangers because...it's what I do to put food on the table. And I'm not really good at anything else, so I've got to keep racing. I don't think about anything other than racing while I'm out on the race track, though.
How important is it to get children involved with sports at an early age?
KL: I think it's important to involve your kids in sports at an early age, but I also think they need to be opened up to a lot of other activities as well so they can learn who they are as a person and what they're into.
Will you encourage your son to get into racing?
KL: I'm sure I'll encourage him to get into racing at some point. It would be hard for him not to at least give racing a try [because both sides of the family have ties to the sport]. But he'll have the opportunity to do whatever he wants to do.
What are your plans for Father's Day this year?
KL: I actually won't be around Owen for Father's Day this year because I'm racing a Sprint car in Ohio. When I'm racing I'll be with my dad, which will be cool. But it is a bummer I won't get to spend Father's Day with [Owen] this year. If he was older and knew what Father's Day was, he would definitely be on the road with me.
How do you feel about having to go out of town for your job and be away from Katelyn and Owen frequently?
KL: Sometimes it's nice to get a little away time. But usually after about a day, I miss them. And I FaceTime as much as possible.