Jamie Whincup is working on a plan for his Supercars retirement to ensure that the step back from full-time racing will not take its toll on his mental health.
The seven-time series champion has committed to full-time driving until the end of 2020, but could feasibly walk away at the end of that season.
Whincup has previously stated he will not overstay his welcome as a full-time driver, and he has begun preparing for life post-Supercars by opening a car wash and coffee shop business on the Gold Coast.
He also has a 15% ownership stake in the Triple Eight team and recently won a spot on the Supercars Commission.
Whincup says retirement is now a case of "sooner rather than later", and the 36-year-old says the mental health risks of a poorly-managed retirement cannot be ignored.
"I don't want to go past my use-by date," said Whincup. "The last thing I want to do is be holding up a seat for a young kid that could jump in this car and be competitive.
"I'm not putting a date on when I'll pull the pin, but it will be sooner rather than later. I don't want to go too far."
Pointing to the troubled personal lives of Olympic gold medalist swimmer Grant Hackett and former Australian Rugby League player Greg Inglis, Whincup added: "Just to paint the picture, we've seen the Grant Hacketts, the Greg Inglises of the world [struggle].
"Don't underestimate it, a lot of athletes that are doing their profession full-time get to the end and it's depressing.
"If you haven't got something to go to, some other interest, if you get to there, life's over and you've got to start again.
"I recognise that from seeing what those guys have gone through, so I made that call a couple of years ago to make sure there is a plan, that plenty is going on in my life outside of driving a car."
"Ten years ago, [driving] was my whole life, that was the big thing...I got so much satisfaction out of life because of that battle.
"Now, I've got the satisfaction out of being a part of a group to make good decisions to grow Triple Eight, and now, as part of the Commission, to try to grow the sport.
"I'm trying to take on the world, one car wash at a time, one latte at a time. I get a lot of satisfaction out of that stuff as well.
"It will never surpass driving a car and the battle on a Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon. But I've got other aspects, which is great."
Whincup added that he doesn't plan on stopping "cold turkey", and plans to follow Craig Lowndes' lead and first shift into a Supercars co-driver role.
He is also targeting GT racing overseas after recent seasons included outings in the International GT Challenge and domestic series in Australia.
Whincup believes such outings could benefit him in his Commission role by giving him a broader perspective.
"I reckon I'll co-drive [in Supercars]. You can't go cold turkey," he said. "Every weekend since I was seven years old I've been at a race track, or part of motorsport. I can't go cold turkey.
"What would be of benefit to the Commission would be for me to do some GT racing overseas, and other types of racing.
"I think that experience would be valuable for not only T8, but for the category to see what the rest of the world is doing."