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NASCAR Formula 1

Top 5 Highest-Paid Racing Drivers On The Planet

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Top 5 Highest-Paid Drivers On The Planet

Matt Kartozian - USA TODAY Sports

In the sporting world, top athletes make their money from a combination of paid salary, winnings, with the majority usually coming from endorsements.

Motor sport is an extremely expensive business. It costs many millions to run a team for just a single season from the ultra high-tech cars and components, to the combined salaries of all involved, with drivers’ salaries usually in the millions.

Motorsports is also a massive opportunity for sponsors to promote their name to the billions of fans tuning in every week to see their heroes race. From the drivers themselves to the cars in which they race, company logos embellish overalls, caps and racing shoes. Companies pay large sums to see their drivers wearing their latest products, from watches to sunglasses to personal cars.

Golfer Tiger Woods currently owns the top spot on Forbes' Highest Paid Athletes list with a combined salary/winnings/endorsements pulling in a massive $78.1 million a year. While this is more than double that of the highest paid racing driver, the top five drivers do make the top-100 on the list.

First off, let’s get the world’s top five highest-paid athletes out of the way:

Tennis star Rodger Federer comes in second with $71.5 million and NBA legend Kobe Bryant makes up the final place on the podium with $61.9 million. Miami Heat star LeBron James is forth with his combined earnings pulling in $59.8 million and NFL quarterback Drew Brees finishes off the top-five earning $51 million.

Now see who are the top five highest-paid racing drivers.

James Harris is a NASCAR writer for

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Tony Stewart

Jerome Miron - USA TODAY Sports

Three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion and All-Star race winner Tony Stewart is the first driver to duck into the list, managing 83rd and earning $18.5 million.

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Jimmie Johnson

Jerome Miron - USA TODAY Sports

Current Sprint Cup points leader and five-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson manages 41st on the list, bringing home $25 million.

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Dale Earnhardt

Sam Sharpe - USA TODAY Sports

NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. is in at no. 32 on the Forbes list, hauling in a big $26 million.

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Lewis Hamilton

Jerome Miron - USA TODAY Sports

Mercedes and F1 driver Lewis Hamilton is no. 26 on the list. Known for dating ex-Pussy Cat Doll Nicole Scherzinger, the second highest-paid driver’s combined earnings pull in $27.5 million.

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Fernando Alonso

Jerome Miron -USA TODAY Sports

Scuderia Ferrari and F1 driver Fernando Alonso takes the 19th spot on the Forbes' list with an impressive $30 million – impressive because his salary, at $28 million, is significantly higher than his endorsement earnings of just $2 million.