Racing since age eight, missing prom so he could suit up for the Nascar Nationwide series, winning Nascar’s Busch series championship at the tender age of 20: Brian Vickers sounds like a man of one dimension. That would be a false assumption. Vickers was valedictorian of his high school, is an avid reader and loves rock climbing and mountain biking. After taking some time off to get healthy after experiencing blood clots in his legs and lungs, the 30-year-old is back for the 2014 Sprint Cup series. When we caught up with him between commercial shoots and practice it the track, it became abundantly clear that racing is far from the only thing on this young man’s mind.
Q. What’s one thing every man should know?
His principles and he should stand by them. Honestly, a sense of ethics, trust and conviction are what I stand by.
Q. What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
On a professional level it’s winning a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. On a personal level, managing and overcoming blood clots.
Q. What are you working on right now?
With the Sprint Cup Series underway, I’m focused on bringing the Aaron’s Dream Machine to Victory Lane again this season.
Patience. A longer day to describe it: you have to be bold and aggressive to go fast, but you must first finish to finish first.
Q. Name one thing you can’t live without.
My wife, Sarah. Well that and oxygen, of course.
Q: Who or what influences you?
Everything and anything to a certain extent — it’s just how you prioritize those influences. Family, friends and mentors at the top of my list.
Q. What are you reading right now?
I just finished a book from a Representative DeSantis called Dreams from Our Founding Fathers
and currently reading Letters from a Stoic
by Seneca — it’s one of those books that you can’t read enough times. It’s amazing.
Q. Name one thing no one knows about you.
Unfortunately that’s a hard question because everyone’s been asking me that for the past 10 years. I love to read and I usually read about four hours every day.
Q. It’s your last drink and meal on earth. What’ll it be?
For drink, I’d probably pick a really, really good bottle of red wine. My meal would either be Greek or Italian, probably Italian.
Q. If you could go back and tell your 16 year old self something, what would you say?
For starters, I would say that your parents and grandparents aren’t nearly as dumb as you think they are. I would say be more confident with women, they really like that. And I would say just be as true to yourself and honest as you possibly can be. Sometimes people don’t like hearing honesty, but in the long run, I’ve never seen it not be the very best option.
Q. How do you want to be remembered?
I want to be remembered as a man of principles who lived a good life, who worked hard to accomplish great things and left the world a better place than he found it. To what extent that is, I don’t know. Maybe it’s just among friends or maybe it’s broader scale with accomplishments in business or politics.
Obviously I want to be remembered as a great race car driver, but in the end, I race because I love it, not because I need some validity on someone else’s part.
Q. What is the one element of racing that keeps bringing you back?
Probably the speed. I just enjoy going fast. Certainly I do enjoy the competition, but there are a lot of things you can compete at besides racing, so I would have to say the speed.
Q. You’ve tried other kinds of racing. What was the attraction?
I’ve raced everything from go-karts to dirt karts, to rally, to sports cars, and I’ve loved it all. Ultimately though, my biggest passion is NASCAR.
Q. Who do you admire outside of the race world?
I admire my parents and my grandparents a tremendous amount. On a broader scale I admire George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill.
Q. What bit of advice would you give to a young racer?
Patience. That’s how I would summarize it in one word. A longer day to describe it: you have to be bold and you have to be aggressive to go fast, but you must first finish to finish first. That kind of sums it all up. If you don’t finish at all, you certainly won’t finish first. For young drivers, that’s a hard thing to learn.
Brian Vickers just wrapped production on a new Aaron’s commercial featuring the Dream Machine (his 55 car) and is gearing up for the 2014 Sprint Cup series.