GRC Personalities // Scott Speed: First Place and Family in Charlotte
Charlotte went well, because we didn’t get wrecked! With these things, you’ve not only got to be fast, but you also have to be a little bit lucky to make it through to the final without any incidents. It’s been hard to do, but it’s also what makes it so exciting. For us we were able to do that, and we were able to come out with the win.
I got off the line clean in both starts. I don’t think there’s anything about the tracks that specifically suits me driving style wise, but the OMSE cars are certainly good at performing well on both concrete and dirt, and on this track there was a ton of dirt. It suited the equipment very well, no question.
I think success in GRC comes down to background. You look at the guys who are successful—I consider Topi Heikkinen the most successful, having done it for more time than I have, and also having a full run at the series this year with proper funding, a proper team, and really attacking it. For me, it was a lot more last minute—we started off doing just the one-off race as a Star Car driver, and we tried to transform that into running the full season, but it certainly wasn’t at the level of those factory guys.
But when you look at his background, he spent time in Europe open-wheel racing, like myself. So his background is four-wheel car racing, as is mine, as is Steve Arpin’s. Ultimately, I think that’s the advantage that we’re able to carry forward in this series—that background and that experience is just a huge advantage for us.
I had my daughter Juliet signing autographs with me after the race, and I have another daughter on the way, but I don’t think fatherhood has changed how I race at all. I think that personality-wise, I’ve changed a little bit. But a lot of those changes happened for me when I came back home to the States after racing in Europe and racing in Formula 1. I look at racing differently than I did when I was younger. I’m certainly a lot wiser about it, a lot more reasonable in the way I look at it.
I had a lot of family on hand at Charlotte to see my win. My wins are all special, but I think that having family around is more important than anything, honestly. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what you do if you don’t have anyone to share it with. The coolest thing about Brazil was that I was able to come home and celebrate with everyone, but having family there was the most important thing. I wish I had family coming to Vegas! My wife and I really love it, it’s probably our favorite city on the planet. But I think it would be a little too hard to travel with two babies, both of them being so young.
A lot of guys look at racing as the entire world—the only thing that matters. It’s everything. They get so encompassed in it that there is nothing else. I’ve been lucky enough to try different forms of motor racing, from Formula 1 and NASCAR to this, and I know that there has to be balance. You can’t just have one thing, 100 percent, all the time, because you don’t do it productively. Being a father hasn’t changed a thing on the track for me, but it has put into perspective what’s really important in life—it allows you to have fun with your job, whether it’s racing or anything else, and it allows you to have more fun with everything else.
Photo credit: Matthew Kalish (1, 2); Alison Merion Padron (3)