Friday, May 08, 2009

At the Track with Justin Wilson

Justin Wilson can be a little boring. (That's race car driver Justin Wilson, not the Cajun Cook Justin Wilson.)

Not accountant boring, but dad-and-husband boring (I say this as one of the world's most boring dads and husbands). This is actually what you actually want for an IndyCar driver. When your job consists of driving a $1 million machine in excess of 200 miles per hour, making nothing but left turns, you want as much consistency and stability as possible.

Still, I asked Justin what he usually does when he's not driving, hoping for juicy tales of dates with celebrities, clubbing, decadent fun. You know, the racing lifestyle.

Nope. He hangs out with friends and family, and relaxes as much as possible.

He gave the typical driver's answer — "Hang out at the garage with the guys, thinking about setup, or at the motor home just hanging out" — so I asked him what he did when he wasn't driving.

"Well, I brought my bicycle, so I get out and explore a bit, and then I got to the gym. I work out six days a week."

Needless to say, I felt like a lump standing next to him. He's 6' 3.5" (he's the tallest driver in the race), and he's built like, well, a guy who works out six days a week. I, on the other hand, didn't work out six days all last year. I swear I'm going to start as soon as this race is over. Or maybe in July. I'm kind of busy in June.

"Oh that's nothing. When I was in F-1, I worked out twice a day, six days a week."

Okay, starting to not like the guy.

So what do you do in the evenings? Just hang out around the Speedway, or do you get out on the town?

"We've got friends in town, so we go see them. Hang out just to be with them."

("We?" Why do drivers always insist on calling themselves "we?" Are you the Queen or something?)

"Occasionally, we'll go out to a restaurant. Last night we ate dinner with friends, but the night before that, we went out," said Justin. "My wife is pretty good about going out, and we just strap my daughter into the baby carrier, and she's all set."

(Oh, that "we." Never mind.)

Justin and his wife Julia have a 12-month-old daughter, Jane. (See, dad-and-husband boring. I can relate.)

"It's great being a dad," he said. "I'd say the teething's pretty. . . interesting."

"Just don't stick your finger in her mouth," I said. "Once she gets all four teeth, they're like little daggers."

"Oh, I know. I go to give her a hug, and then a few minutes later, she's going nom nom nom." And then he made those little gnawing noises — I got Mr. F-1 champion Justin Wilson to make baby gnawing noises.

Okay, I like the guy again.

Justin, who sold shares of himself to investors to raise money for his early racing career, is looking to improve on his 27th finish in 2008. After that, he'll head to Milwaukee to compete in the Indy Car Series at the Milwaukee Mile from May 29 - 31.

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