2010 ASA Transontinental Series Free State 500 Champion John Mickel shares his thoughts about winning the event and the bright future he has from it.
It's a laugh some days, how life works. Who knew, a year ago - that my racing life would be taking as many twists and turns as the road course at Watkins Glen in the US! Myself and my family are blessed right now to be surrounded by wonderful people and fantastic support - friends, family & colleagues.
This week, England held the first ever international broadcast - the ESPN UK broadcast of the American Speed Association's Freestate 500 back on January 31st, in Welkom, Freestate, South Africa. Kudos to Kevin, Dennis & the hardworking team at the ASA in garnering so many broadcasts around the world of this event, that 100M potential viewers may watch this race. Racing, over the past year, has become truly global - and this Englishman is pretty happy about that!
With the advent of drivers like Max Papis of Italy; Marcus Ambrose of Tanzania/Australia; Juan Pablo Montoya of Latin America; and now young Nelson Picquet, Jr, of the F1 Picquet family name...our sport is becoming more and more international every day. It has not only opened the door, it has blown the door wide open to give these drivers a voice and a marketable presence in the United States. Diversity is "cool!" In all seriousness - the diverse faces in our shrinking sports world (meaning, the degrees of separation from one another in countries) are helping "new" faces emerge in many sports. Just look at the Olympics over the past two weeks...the first South African ever to compete (BAFANA BAFANA! 2010 Johannesburg!); the first gold medal to Britain (congrats Amy Williams, my fellow English(wo)man!)
Being the ASA Freestate 500 Champion has helped my momentum this month, quite a bit. I recently did the SkySports broadcast of the Daytona 500 (hopefully next year they'll have to cover me while I'm on the track!), and I've been invited to the BBC Morning Show in the next week. My Facebook "fan page" has grown, as well as Twitter followers, and I'm humbled - not one to talk about myself, it's nice to know that I have support for my renewed US racing career. My marathon run training is moving along - up to an hour on the road. I will be competing alongside my US-based PR "Girl Friday," Demi Knight Clark, in our "Across the Pond Challenge" at the Virgin London Marathon on April 25th. My Virgin Money Giving account for the Rhys Daniels Trust is almost finished, so look for my donation page very soon. Our goal is to raise at least 1000 pounds (roughly $1700USD) for the children of the RDT.
I'll be in Charlotte next week, speaking with a variety of people on NASCAR racing - not much I can divulge at this point, but it's coming and coming fast..."positive karma," as my PR staff says! They're right - if you keep putting positive action in place every day, you will reap the rewards. So for those 100M viewers across the world that might take in an inspirational race this week, I am truly excited for the possibilities. 100M viewers - that's a lot of new faces in new places to watch a race. If I had known the effect that one race, in a country where no NASCAR-style racing had ever taken place, would have- I might have actually been nervous.
Nerves weren't even on the agenda - thanks to literally being surrounded by what I consider to be a "world family of racers." Being in such close quarters with people will make you value and appreciate patience - and also get to know them on a more intimate level than just "sharing a garage." We ate dinner together, rode buses together, endured the same homesickness and or physical exhaustion together...not to mention some unique race "firsts" - unpacking shipping crates full of cars. Trying to get Hoosier tires when they were fresh off a container (and high helium content makes them tricky). Going through Tech a few extra times - because after all, you had four countries of teams working on cars, ALL ACROSS THE WORLD! Ironic in the moment - but treasured now that we can look back.
A podium that held the most diverse top 3 ever in motorsports - myself plus Americans Toni McCray and Marc Davis. A field of drivers that represented the full world of motorsports (and the possibility that anyone who WANTS to drive, does have the tools & resources to make it happen, with hard work - much like Johann Spies and Gugu Zulu of South Africa). The first time an Englishman has ever taken a checkered flag in American-style stock car racing - me!
That gives me chills. Chills for the amazing, Olympic-style results of world vision. And chills for the future that stands before us in racing - what awesome possibilities. Thank you to the ASA for truly breeding "world champions" at the Freestate 500. May it be the start of many, many stories to come from several of those drivers - I cannot wait to see them in 2011, when I defend my title as ASA Freestate 500 World Champion! I will buy a swift half for everyone!