(This is the latest in a series of stories tracing the roots of Verizon IndyCar Series drivers through their own words. IndyCar.com writer Phillip B. Wilson looks at where they grew up and what first sparked their interest in racing. Today’s subject: 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion Will Power.)
Wilson: What was Will Power like as a kid back home?
Power: I had a great childhood. I had three brothers. My dad was racing all the time, so he spent time in the garage. My older brother pushed me around in a little car for hours on end. I pretended to race. It was a little car I could sit in and steer.
Wilson: Which brother?
Wilson: So Nick gets credit for giving you the first “push” in racing?
Power: Yeah, because he was too heavy for me to push. Nick and I were the ones who played racing all the time. That’s what we called it, playing racing. We used to race our bikes, do a lot of BMX jumps.
Wilson: You did that a lot?
Power: Yeah, yeah, yeah, I used to do a lot of that. We’d run our bikes everywhere.
Wilson: What about school?
Power: It was good fun. I never really did much work. (Chuckles.) I ended up going to a boarding school for a year. My parents thought it would make my grades better, but I was just playing about, having lots of fun. It was actually a great experience because I was basically living with all my friends all the time. I really enjoyed that. It’s amazing being friends with everyone in the whole school, there was like 800 people. That was high school. I was 14.
Wilson: That’s Toowoomba? What’s Toowoomba known for other than you?
Power: It’s probably the first big town where all of the farming community would come to and buy farming equipment and such. It’s called the “Garden City.” They have a thing called “Carnival of Flowers.” It’s a bit over 100,000 people, it might be 150,000 now, so it’s not that small. It’s a great city, very sports orientated, a lot of good football has come from there and a lot of boxers.
Wilson: So you’re not from out in the …
Power: It’s not out in the sticks.
Wilson: What do they call that, when you’re in Walkabout Creek?
Power: In the bush.
Wilson: You’re not from out in the bush?
Power: Nah, nah. It was a city.
Wilson: How did you see America as a kid?
Power: You saw America as what you saw in all of the movies. If you watched something like “Revenge of the Nerds,” you see all these fraternity houses. You didn’t believe it. You’re kind of like, “Wow, that’s pretty cool.” Then the first time my wife (Liz) ever took me to Purdue (University in Indiana), I was like, “Wow, that’s legit. These guys do that. They actually have a house full of people (in a fraternity).” I couldn’t believe it. They don’t have that in Australia. Yeah, I reckon I had a false image of what life is because of American movies.
Wilson: You probably don’t want to base everything off “Revenge of the Nerds.”
Power: No, I’m not just talking about “Revenge of the Nerds,” but you’re watching all of these movies. That’s why all the towns and the cities in America became so famous to me. When I go to a place like Detroit or Chicago, those are such big names to me when I was a kid because you never believed you’d actually go and see them.
Wilson: It doesn’t compare to back home?
Power: Home is great. The more time I spend away, the more people have left town. You get these people who have lived in the town for their whole life. You create such a group of friends and people that you know in that town. You’re happy, more happy than having to relocate to different areas.
(Check out Power's IndyCar.com biography. Also read previous “Racing Roots” entries on Marco Andretti, Sebastien Bourdais, Scott Dixon, Ed Carpenter, Josef Newgarden, Spencer Pigot, Carlos Munoz, Ed Jones and Simon Pagenaud.)