A well-earned reputation as one of NASCAR’s best counted for little when 26-year-old Red Bull Racing driver Brian Vickers had his 2010 season cut short by a blood disorder. Here’s how illness has – and hasn’t – affected him…
Trading Four Wheels for Two
"I’m based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and when I’m there, I’ll jump on a bike and cycle to the ocean to swim for a couple of miles. One of my favorite vacation spots is New York City, where I love to cycle just about everywhere on my single-speed, fixed-gear track bike. I have a proper road bike for when I’m taking longer rides outside the City and into Jersey. Basically, wherever I am I’m usually out on a bike."
"Bikram Yoga is the best exercise I’ve found to prepare me for what I do for a living. The biggest thing for our racing is definitely the heat inside our cars. There is a physical strength aspect to it also, but the heat is foremost. I used to make fun of yoga and Pilates, but I had a girlfriend who talked me into going to a class with her. Bikram Yoga is a hot yoga; it’s held in a steaming room, heated to 105°F, and is an intense workout for an hour and a half. It’s fantastic preparation for driving in NASCAR. And holding those yoga poses... not easy."
"I’m trying to make the most of my time away and learn something from the experience."
Sit Back and Relax
"For me, being in a racecar is a very comfortable, very relaxing environment. Under red flags or between practice sessions, I’ll tend to doze off. We do have huge crowds, but I don’t really pay attention to the fans when I’m in my pre-race routine and in the race itself. Before and after that they are a massive positive influence and help me get into the right frame of mind – but sometimes I like having the ability to switch it all off as well."
"Being out of the car has been tough to deal with: the blood clots have definitely affected me, but it is what it is. I think these things happen for a reason and I’m trying to make the most of my time away and learn something from the experience – but obviously I’m itching to get back to racing."
The Really Great Outdoors
"I’ll go to the gym and do weights and some cardio work but it drives me crazy, so whenever the opportunity arises I’ll do my training outside. If I’m not on a bike, I’ll swim or surf or go rock climbing, kayaking, hiking... whatever suits the conditions and location. If I’m out West and it’s the right time of year I’ll get up into the Rockies for the winter sports. I’ll cross-country ski in the mornings, which is an awesome workout, and enjoy myself in the afternoon with some downhill or snowboarding. In summer I’ll go to the same places and hike."
Food for Thought
"Over the years I’ve figured out a routine that seems to work for me. On race day I have a good, hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs for the protein, then for lunch I’ll get in some more protein, some carbs and a little bit of sugar for some punch – probably a chicken and pasta salad, and I’ll make sure I have sweet potatoes, since they’re really good for sustaining energy for the long term. I’ve worked with nutritionists in the past, and I’m going to work with one again because the blood thinners I’m on can affect my diet."
Switch it Off
"Meditation is good for inner peace and being a calmer individual. I have a little bit of ADD and I find meditation helps me with that tremendously. It isn’t something I just use to help me at the racetrack, it’s something that’s useful for my everyday life, but when I’m at the track it helps me focus and gives me the ability to just turn everything off."