To be a race car driver back in the day you had to be a little crazy in the head. At least now there's cutting edge technology to help protect that head.
On a recent episode of CNBC's "Jay Leno's Garage," 26-year-old NASCAR superstar Joey Logano meets up with Jay Leno at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, to go around the track in a car that's more than twice his age.
Logano is already a legend. He holds the record for being the youngest winner in two of NASCAR's top three divisions. And in 2015, when he was just 24, he became one of the youngest drivers ever to win the Daytona 500.
He's so good, in fact, that his nickname is "Sliced Bread" because, in auto racing, he's arguably the greatest thing since that.
Logano now proudly represents the new school of driving, in a sport with a lot of history.
The first formal NASCAR race was held in 1948. The cars then were stock, meaning they were unmodified from the way they rolled off the factory floor.
Even in the 1960's, NASCAR cars were still largely based on real production vehicles. But the stock frames were being replaced with steel tubes.
By the 1980's the cars were even more slimmed down. And today, there's nothing stock about them.
Logano, for example, drives a Ford Fusion. But it looks nothing like yours at home.
"That's what we call it," he says. "But we basically start from scratch."
Jay arranges for Logano to start from scratch, too, in a car that's completely different from the one he usually drives. The host jokes, "Let's see how he does in a real car. Back in the day when the drivers were fat and the tires were skinny."
Leonard Wood, legendary crew chief and co–founder of the famed Wood Brothers racing team, pulls up in a 1963 Ford Galaxie which was designed to be a replica of the famous No. 21 English Motors car used by Tiny Lund when he won the 1963 Daytona 500.
This is Logano's challenge. No power steering. No power brakes. Fifty-year-old tires.
Jay asks Logano, "Are you ready to try a little old school?"
Logano replies, "Let's do it. I'm excited to see what these guys fought back in the day."
Jay hops into a modern race car with 750 horsepower, and Logano gets behind the wheel of Wood's replica '63 Galaxie with only 425 horsepower. Soon they're off down the track. Not at top speed, but fast enough.
As they circle around, Logano notes that there is virtually nothing to protect him.
"I'm only going eighty to ninety miles an hour at the top," he says. "I'm pretty sure if I crash I'm going to end up outside the car somewhere."
The two drivers laugh as they make their loops before finally pulling up side by side. Logano looks over at Jay with a smile and says, "It's incredible! It's funny how much you got to steer the car and move back and forth when our cars are normally tight and quick."
Jay and Logano decide to go for another race, and Jay shares some parting thoughts. "This classic Galaxie is pretty cool," he says. "But you know what's even cooler? Staying alive."
CNBC's "Jay Leno's Garage" airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET.