Sebastien Bourdais

(This is the next in a series of stories tracing the roots of Verizon IndyCar Series drivers through their own words. We’ll look at where they grew up and what first sparked their interest in racing. Today’s subject: Sebastien Bourdais.)

Four-time Indy car series champion Sebastien Bourdais of Dale Coyne Racing chats with’s Phillip B. Wilson about childhood memories in Le Mans, France.

Wilson: What’s your earliest memory of what you did as a kid?

Bourdais: My earliest one would be when my dad bought me a motorcycle. I was 3.

Wilson: What kind of motorcycle?

Bourdais: PW 50cc Yamaha.

Wilson: What did you think?

Bourdais: It was kind of weird. He bought it when we were at a ski resort in the summer. We had an apartment over there. We went down the center of town, he bought it and then we started driving back to the ski resort, which was higher up. It was one of those very, very small South Alps ski resorts, and about 1,500 to 1,600 meters high. About halfway up the climb, he took the motorcycle out of the trunk and put me on the thing and let me ride the thing back to the apartment. My mom was all the way freaked out because it was the first time I was riding it.

Wilson: You got the bug?

Bourdais: Yeah, I got the virus right there. After that, I was on motorcycles and ATVs and ATCs, whatever motorized.

Wilson: Were you always asking when you could ride again?

Bourdais: We lived in the countryside, so I just hopped on the thing and ran it until there was no more gas. I spent a lot of time on those just cruising around, drawing little tracks in the fields around the house.

Wilson: You were happy.

Bourdais: I was a lonely soul. I spent a lot of time on my own just riding. There wasn’t much around us.

Wilson: There’s a peace to it?

Bourdais: Yeah, I wasn’t sad, I was just making my own stories and racing myself. I was trying to be faster and feel better.

Wilson: Did you dream of anything?

Bourdais: No, I was just living in the moment, enjoying the ride and just trying to be more in control, feel stronger, better and faster on the bike.

Wilson: A good day was a one-hour ride? An all-day ride? What was a good day?

Bourdais: I don’t know. A time frame when you’re a kid, you don’t remember that much. I’d go out for at least two hours at a time. I had a ton of fun. We had a pretty big property and then there was a little piece of field that was remote on the back end, where there were trees and nobody could see what I was doing. I had my little track in there. It would last a while. Then when I was older, I would go in the forest and take five- or six-gate laps. That was good fun, too.