It’s no surprise that Chelsea Bain has been attending NASCAR races since she was 5 years old. Her dad, Emmett “Buddy” Jobe, brought NASCAR to Phoenix International Raceway in 1987. Now, Bain is more involved in NASCAR than she ever has been, but not as a spectator — as a rockin’ country musician.
The 23-year-old Scottsdale resident performed on the Coca Cola stage earlier this month at the Subway Fresh Fit 500 race and is scheduled to sing the national anthem at the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series at Firebird Raceway March 15-17.
In between performing on the NASCAR tour and working on her full-length album, “All-American Country Girl,” to be released later this year, the rising country star and proud Arizona girl took time to answer some questions for us about her career path, her experience with NASCAR and what she thinks of the popular television show “Nashville.”
Q: Before breaking into country music, you had an extensive “career” as an equestrian, winning several national and world championships with the American Paint Horse Association. What precipitated the career change?
A: To do music as my career has been something I’ve wanted to do forever. It’s funny that I got sidetracked by the horses. While I was showing horses I sang the national anthem at our shows and was putting on barn shows for everyone. My friends and I would be warming up and I would make them sing Disney songs. I actually went off with a scholarship in horsemanship to Texas Christian University, but wanting to be a country artist stuck with me. It was kind of scary, but I decided to give it a try.
I went through the “American Idol” process and made it through a couple rounds. I hated it. I am not one who wants to be part of the circus. I enjoy the spotlight, but auditions like that were too crazy. I’m not going to pretend I’m some super crazy person.
My aunt had a friend with a studio here in Arizona. We had a couple fall outs with that situation, but through it I met someone else. I’ve gone through my fair share of meeting people who aren’t in it for the best reason, but I feel like now I’m on the right track. I love my band and my producer.
Q: You’ve been performing on the NASCAR circuit. What’s that like?
A: The coolest thing about NASCAR is that it’s the biggest spectator sport. NASCAR fans are the best fans because they are really loyal and when they like something they love it. I’ve gained so many fans from it. I’ll get 3,000 “likes” on my Facebook page from one weekend.
They are definitely interesting people. I’ve been going to NASCAR races since I was 5 years old and I’m still like “oh my gosh, look at that person.” I’m still shocked and surprised all the time. I’ll stop in the middle of a show and ask someone what they’re wearing.
Q: The show “Nashville” has been getting a lot of attention this year. Having lived and worked in Nashville, what do you think of the show?
A: I’ve had my fair share of dramatic experiences, but not like the show “Nashville.” My band and I talk about it a lot. It’s an overdramatized version of what happens in Nashville. (What really happens) is not quite as exciting as that. I watch TV shows when I fly and I admit, I watch “Nashville.” It’s a great thing because people are paying more attention to Nashville because of that TV show. The Grammy concert was in Nashville for the first time ever. It isn’t just country music that comes out of Nashville. The Kings of Leon came out of Nashville and there are so many other types of music that come out of there.
Q: It seems like your family is very important to you. What role does your family play in your career?
A: My family is everything. I have a very large and very close family. I’ve been with an independent label and that means we have to do a lot of it ourselves. It’s all about friendships really. My mom plays the “momanger” role. My cousin, who is a year and half older than me, is traveling and helping my dad with the manual labor stuff. My mom comes along, too, and my aunt, who is my mom’s twin sister. My brother is a director in L.A. and shot the music video for “Rockin’ That Trailer.” When I’m on radio tour one of my friends travels with me. Last year my parents traveled to all the races with me. My dad likes to go because he gets to see all his NASCAR buddies. It’s definitely a family affair.
IF YOU GO
What: Chelsea Bain performs at the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series
When: Bain performs at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, March 16; the race runs Friday, March 15 to Sunday, March 17.
Where: Firebird International Raceway, 20000 S. Maricopa Road, Chandler.
Cost: $10-$30 for general admission, free for kids 12 and younger; reserved seats are $40 for adults and $10 for kids; parking is $10 on Saturday and Sunday.
Information: (602) 268-0200 or www.lucasoiloffroad.com.