John Calipari: Hall of Fame coach, National Champion, and Pace Car Driver

Use your ← → (arrows) to browse

June 30, 2012; Sparta, IN, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver AJ Allmendinger during the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway. Mandatory credit: Michael Hickey-USA TODAY Sports

John Calipari has amassed quite the resume in his career as a college basketball coach. 500 plus wins. A National Championship. Four Final Fours with three different teams. And now a race car driver?

Well … sort of.


With the state of Kentucky hosting its biggest NASCAR event of the year, Louisville couldn’t be the only basketball program getting local love on the track.

News broke last week that Brian Vickers’ car would be painted to honor the national-champion Cardinals. On Wednesday, the event announced that Kentucky coach John Calipari would be driving the pace car for the Sprint Cup Series’ Quaker State 400 in Sparta, Ky.

He’ll be driving a Ford Fusion as the race gets underway at 7:30 p.m. ET.

“It’s kind of like walking out in the Final Four and having your team behind you, excited and ready to go,” Calipari said in a statement. “The last time I was part of this event, it was incredible. This is a great thing that brings our people together. The state of Kentucky takes great pride in the facility like it does in basketball, like it does in horse racing, like it does in bourbon.”


Mar 15, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Willie Cauley-Stein (15) dunks the ball during the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports

With the rosters set, it’s really not too early to start looking at preseason predictions for basketball, right? OK, it is a bit early, but when Gary Parrish picks UK in the SEC and has nice things to say about Calipari, we are going to take notice.


FINAL THOUGHT: Kentucky, as noted above, will again be the favorite in the SEC, and it’s now fair to wonder if it’ll consistently be this way until John Calipari retires.

Does that mean UK will win every SEC title?


Let’s not forget about last season’s disaster.

But Calipari is operating at such a high level (and arguably an unprecedented level in the modern era) that it’s hard to imagine him ever not having the SEC’s best talent regardless of how many prospects leave school early for the NBA Draft, and having the best talent is typically the key to stacking wins. So good luck, everybody else.


Those hankering for some Kentucky basketball will get some soon as Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will play in the Las Vegas summer league this year. With Nerlens Noel hobbled, it was looking like a lean summer for those that have made summer league viewing a must see event. You can start the countdown now as MKG and his mates will take on the Thunder on July 12 at 10PM. Also look for Marquis Teague and some more of the national champion Wildcats to play in the various summer leagues as well.

Use your ← → (arrows) to browse

comments powered by Disqus