Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
1/27/09 12:10 p.m.

The recently televised NFL Draft was filled with suspense. ESPN recounted emotional stories of how each football player had to overcome obstacles to become a first-round draft pick. One of the most memorable stories involved a player who overcame severe eye problems and childhood ridicule to win the Heisman Trophy.

What these football players had in common was that they followed the same basic path to the pros. They showed promise in Pop Warner football, matured into star athletes in high school and became gridiron gods in college. Their entire football career could be easily tracked, analyzed and rated by NFL scouts.

In football, hard work and tenacity pays off. The minimum annual starting salary in the NFL is $275,000, and many players have contracts that pay seven figures or more per year. Considering that there are 32 NFL teams with 53 players on each roster, this means that 1696 NFL football players will earn at least a quarter million dollars per year. The top players will make 10 times that amount.

It would be wonderful if road racing also had a single, clear path to the professional ranks. However, the harsh reality is that there is no one road to the top. More bad news: More Americans make a living playing football than racing sports cars.

Before you replace your Spec Miata and floor jack with shoulder pads and a cup, there are still ways to earn a living with sports cars. While there is no single route to the pro ranks, there are various ways to make the transition from amateur to professional.

Some paths will work for you, some will not. Pick the one that best suits your personality, lifestyle, finances, job skills and educational background. Once you have formulated a plan to suit your particular situation, execute your plan with ambition and tenacity.

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