Chevy Racing–NASCAR Media Day–Brian Vickers

FEBRUARY 16, 2016

BRIAN VICKERS, NO. 14 BASS PRO SHOPS/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET SS met with media during Media Day at Daytona International Speedway. Full Transcript:

Q. (No microphone.)

BRIAN VICKERS: Yeah, that Xarelto commercial, the campaign has been going on for a few years now, raising awareness for blood clots, really encouraging people to go out and seek a doctor if they think something is wrong and find out what is the right plan for them.

You know, obviously that means a lot to me personally. I’ve been through a lot of scary situations. That advice is something I could have used tremendously before the first one. It’s something I gladly give after the second and third one.

The commercial was a blast. Getting to know Arnold Palmer, Kevin Nealon, now Chris Bosh, they’re all great guys. It’s been a really cool campaign. I feel like we’ve really made a difference to a lot of people.

It’s a bigger issue than people realize and we had a lot of fun with it.

Q. Were you on the golf course with Arnie during the shooting?

BRIAN VICKERS: Yeah. We shot a bunch of different commercials. Every time we’ve been on the golf course with Mr. Palmer.

Q. How did that go? Were there any shots hit?

BRIAN VICKERS: Yeah, no, he can’t play a full 18 anymore. But we had some chipping and putting competitions. He pretty much schooled us in all of them.

Q. Really?

BRIAN VICKERS: Yeah. Even at 80 whatever years he is now. He pretty much smoked us. There was one putt that was like a 30-footer that no one could make, and he drained it six out of seven tries.

Q. Was it a one-day or two-day thing? Where was it shot?

BRIAN VICKERS: The first one was shot in Palm Springs. The second one was shot in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Both of them were courses where he had a home. I mean, they were both great. The Latrobe was special to see. To see some of his memorabilia. Went to the barn, saw the house.

Q. Did you see the tractor?

BRIAN VICKERS: I sat on the tractor. Got a picture on the tractor, yeah.

Q. Do you see that more people know you now from that commercial than previously knew you as a NASCAR driver?

BRIAN VICKERS: I think it’s probably both, yeah. I would say certainly. I think a lot of the TV stuff, the commercials, the stuff I did last year with NBC, certainly all of it kind of raised the general awareness.

But I wouldn’t go as far to say that exponentially. It certainly made a difference.

Q. You mentioned Chris Bosh. Came out again today he may be having some more problems with the blood clots. Does this give you any pause? You’re so positive about this, confident, saying all the right things. Are you at all thinking this is a wise idea as you continue through?

BRIAN VICKERS: You know, I mean, I made that decision long before I was sitting here. Whatever happens, whatever does or does not happen to anyone else, including Chris, really has no bearing on my decision.

My decision and the plan I came up with my doctors was specific for me. What happens to someone else really doesn’t matter. That’s kind of really a lot what the other campaign has been about. It’s encouraging people to speak to their doctor to find out what’s right for them. That’s kind of the case for me.

My plan and what I’m doing is very different than what Chris is doing. His results really have no bearing on mine.

Q. Do you know what you’ll be doing vocationally Atlanta week?

BRIAN VICKERS: At this point I don’t. I know the team wants me there as long as I can be there. I want to be there as long as they want me there. We’ll work it out. There’s obviously a lot more to it these days than just desire. There’s sponsors. There’s just so much kind of behind the scenes.

But, you know, I know they want me back in the car and I want to be in the car. We should be able to figure something out.

Q. (No microphone.)

BRIAN VICKERS: That was a hard one. That was a really hard hit. That particular situation is just kind of worst-case scenario. When you lose a right rear tire, when you cut a right rear tire like that, the carcass comes off, there’s nothing you can do.

I was kind of in the middle of the pack, three-wide, being pushed. You can’t really stop. You just kind of are along for the ride. It was really a hard hit.

Q. When you go several years without experiencing that, what is it like?

BRIAN VICKERS: I’ve hit the wall enough times that I don’t forget what it’s like. It’s never pleasant. Fortunately I was okay and the safety equipment worked, the soft wall was great. I mean, I actually started my career pre-soft wall. I remember what those used to be like. I’m very happy that we have the safety improvements we do now, I can tell you that.

Q. What part of your body do you immediately feel it in, and the next day?

BRIAN VICKERS: I think where the belts are. Kind of you feel it everywhere. But really the pressure points, the belts and stuff.

That particular incident, because it was a lateral impact, driver’s side, my head got rattled around because you kind of bounce off the headrest. Whereas if it’s a front impact, you kind of graze the headrest, and your HANS device catches it. It’s a slower decel, so it’s a little different.

Q. Next day?

BRIAN VICKERS: Next day fine. Really, I didn’t have much more soreness. You have a little bit of achiness, like general soreness, but not sore like right here. I mean, more kind of general.

Q. Pre-soft wall you would have been ice packing probably?

BRIAN VICKERS: Yeah, definitely.

Q. Your back doesn’t feel it?

BRIAN VICKERS: No, huh-uh.

Q. (No microphone.)

BRIAN VICKERS: I mean, I think you generally think about those things. Obviously this is a dangerous sport. We always assume that risk.

I’m fully aware of what the risks are and the dangers are. Not related to racing, I’ve been in the hospital enough, had doctors tell me, you know, that it’s not looking good enough to really come to terms with kind of what that means in your life.

I’ve had doctors tell me, Get my affairs in order, call my family. My last open heart surgery was a close one, a very close one.

I very much understand kind of what the consequences are, what’s at stake. But I love what I do.

Is racing dangerous? Of course it is. But a lot of things are dangerous. I mean, I’ve proven I can die just walking down the street, and we all can (laughter).

When I probably think about it the most, like something going wrong, is when like I’m in a cab. I’m in the back of a cab with someone I have no idea who this guy is driving. I’m going 70 miles an hour down the road with oncoming traffic. That to me is scary. I think more about that than I do when I’m in a racecar going 200.

I think that’s just a comforting confidence in the safety equipment. Doesn’t mean something can’t go wrong. But, you know, to me there’s so many more things statistically speaking that are more dangerous day-to-day that people don’t think about because they do it every day and get a accustomed to it.

Q. Do you talk to any of the guys, any of the other drivers?

BRIAN VICKERS: We talk about it some, but not typically too much. I don’t think it’s something you kind of generally talk about. I think it’s all understood.

I follow my doctor’s advice tediously, to a T. I don’t really mess around with that.

I love racing. I love what I do. But I also love life. There’s so much more to life than racing. I’ve learned that the hard way. I mean, I’ve been in the sport, I’ve been out of the sport. There’s a lot more out there.

I mean, if I can’t race, my doctor says you shouldn’t race, I won’t race. I’m totally comfortable with that.

Q. (No microphone.)

BRIAN VICKERS: It’s a good question. I think great points, too.

In the past I have subbed for guys. I think I generally spoke up mostly for what I wanted, but I probably should have done it more so. When you sub for someone, as long as you’re in that car, you have to own it, say, This is how I need it to perform.

Ultimately any good team, any good crew, crew chief, race engineer is going to provide that because they understand that, a good team understands that the only way to perform is if you have everything exactly the way you need it, not how somebody else needed it.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t dig into what the other guy was doing. I obviously have a lot of respect and admiration for Tony. If Tony gives me advice, or the team says, Tony tried this and liked it, I’m happy to try it. At the end of the day I’m going to stand firm on what I need to perform and I’m not going to waiver on that.

Q. It’s been a while since you’ve been in a Chevy. When you jump different car makes, do you have to learn the nuances of the car?

BRIAN VICKERS: It can definitely happen. When you get into a different car, everything is unique and different to that car, that manufacturer. It’s really as much about the team as it is even about the manufacturer.

Obviously the engines are different, the build and the power curves are different, so you have to adjust that. Those are minimal adjustments. Hopefully they’re different because they’re more, more power.

As for the dashes, that’s a good point. The gauges are kind of a big thing. You get used to looking for a certain gauge at a certain place. You jump into someone else’s car, it’s different. But that’s all different now. We have a digital dash. I can push a button on the dash and I can completely change the layout of the look. I can come in from the pits and I can completely swap everything around exactly the way I want it.

So the dash is right where I want it. Now, some of the switches are not, the fan switches and stuff. So I’ve had to learn that. But as far as monitoring kind of engine reliability, performance, et cetera, it’s all right where I want it.

Q. (No microphone.)

BRIAN VICKERS: Well, there was a patch in my heart that was coming out and it was going to kill me. They weren’t sure if they could get it out. They said going in to get it out may knock it loose, and if it becomes loose, I’m going to die. They said, Call your family, you know.

Look, I mean, we’re hopeful, but there’s a tremendous amount of risk in the surgery, kind of what you have going on. There’s no guarantee you’re going to make it through.

That’s a moment right there. I mean, when you’re laying there, you’re hearing those words, you’re having to kind of process that emotionally and deal with it, you grow fast.

Q. (No microphone.)

BRIAN VICKERS: Clearly I’m prone to produce blood clots. Like we talked about the other day, I’ve worked really close with some of the best physicians in the world to find a plan that’s right for me that will keep me protected from blood clots and also keep me safe for racing.

Q. Are you pretty much doing the same thing you have the last three times you’ve come back or is there anything you can change or do differently in hopes of decreasing the possibility?

BRIAN VICKERS: So I worked really hard. I worked extensively with my physicians last year to come up with a plan that’s right for me, to protect me from blood clots and keep me safe in the racecar.

Q. Is it any more nerve-wracking or less nerve-wracking than it was before? Or you just go and do it because you can only do what you can?

BRIAN VICKERS: Yeah, I mean, I don’t think it’s nerve-wracking at all. I’m very much at a place in my life where I’m very content and very happy with what the outcome is, whatever that is. Kind of a non-attachment, non-judgment place.

I spend a lot of my life, I like to say, trying to swim up the waterfall. I wasn’t going to be the guy that made it. So I very much go down the river now. That doesn’t mean I don’t try to affect outcomes. I have my hand on the rudder and I can go left or right, I try to accomplish goals I have set, for instance. But if it’s not in the cards, it’s not in the cards.

It’s the same with my health. As we were talking about, I follow what my doctors say. I live a very healthy life. I try to do everything I can do. But ultimately things are going to happen that are out of my control. I adjust and I adapt and I deal with it.

It’s the same for racing, same out of racing, same for health, same for life, same for love. It’s kind of where I’ve gotten to in my life. In today’s world you have to plan ahead, you have to plan for certain things. But ultimately I think if you’re tied to those things, if your happiness is tied to those things, you’re going to be disappointed a lot of times.

My happiness is not tied to those things. I want to win the Daytona 500. I want to race. But if I don’t win the Daytona 500 or something happens that I can’t race, then I’m not unhappy. Like I’m still a happy person. I’ve got other things in my life that make me happy, and I focus on those.

Q. Do you think a full-time ride is possible again or do you think no sponsor would take a chance on you?

BRIAN VICKERS: Again, I’m taking it day by day. I think a full-time ride is certainly possible from my perspective. I could drive full-time, for sure. If someone wants me to drive for them full-time, I’m happy to entertain that idea, if it’s a winning team and the right situation. If they don’t, that’s fine, too.

I’m enjoying the Daytona 500. I’m going to go out there and have a blast and try to win. Whatever happens after that is whatever happens.

Q. (Question about positive attitude.)

BRIAN VICKERS: I think that I was very blessed to have great parents, a great mother and father, that instilled some of that in me, values. Certainly a never-give-up attitude. Some of it’s just kind of personality, right? Some of it’s learned.

I think that certainly going through what I’ve gone through, I’ve crafted that and learned a tremendous amount and grown as a person.

10 years ago, if I had a bad race, it bugged me till the next race, maybe even past that. Now if I have a bad race, it probably bothers me as much or more for a moment, and then it passes.

You can’t just shut down your emotions. They just are what they are. But I don’t hold onto them, I don’t let them affect me. I accept them and acknowledge them, and then just kind of it is.

I think that’s something that I learned over time. I think going through very challenging, difficult situations, you learn a lot of that. I’ve still got a lot of learning to do. My bucket’s not full by any means. It’s still very empty.

I just take it a day at a time because the other way just doesn’t really work. You only have to kind of hit your head against the wall so many times before you realize, like, this isn’t working.

Q. You said you had other things you were planning to do this year that make you happy. A month ago did you think you would be a racecar driver?

BRIAN VICKERS: When you’re an athlete, you always think of yourself as an athlete. You’re always going to be competitive.

When you’re a racecar driver, you’re always going to be a racecar driver. That doesn’t necessarily mean you are racing currently.

I wasn’t sure what my path was going to be on. I made a decision last year, I came up with a plan that I could race, that as much as I loved it, I wasn’t going to do it in a situation I wasn’t happy with. I wasn’t going to be in a car that I didn’t feel like when I walked through the gate, I could win with it, with a crew that I liked and enjoyed.

Life is just too short, and I wasn’t going to do that.

I think I’ve come to terms with the fact that I may never race. That opportunity to be in a winning Sprint Cup car may not come again. I was okay with that. I generally was at peace with it.

Was I excited when the opportunity presented itself? Of course, I was. I’m a racecar driver. I love it. But my life was very much on a different path. It has been for a year now. I very much enjoyed that path. I was very focused on it.

I’ve only been home three days since January. I’ve been focused on other challenges and work and business, a lot of stuff that really excited me. I was enjoying it.

To answer your question, in the middle of January I was negotiating a deal in Zurich. At no point did I think I was going to be in the Daytona 500. So, yeah, very different. I was meeting with bankers in San Francisco, JP Morgan Healthcare Conference January 12th.

Q. (No microphone.)

BRIAN VICKERS: So you get it. You understand. Thank you.

Q. (Question regarding Chris Bosh.)

BRIAN VICKERS: I do stay in touch with Chris. I think the world of Chris. Getting to know him has been a pleasure, working on the campaign together.

I don’t know what his health situation is. I am aware that there’s some media reports out there that they suspect he has one. I don’t know that he has actually said if he does or he doesn’t. I can’t give you any insight there. I don’t know.

I texted him to say I hope you’re okay, but I don’t even want to know. That’s your business.

But, look, I don’t know what the case is. It may not be anything at all. If it is, I hate it for him. I would tell him the same thing again, which is, Don’t give up. Just keep fighting. Find a solution. Keep going.

Q. You’re both parts of these campaigns, but you can’t be on the drugs while you’re competing. The perception comes that these guys are endorsing these drugs, and then… The perception is, What’s wrong? Yet you’re not on the drugs when you’re out there.

BRIAN VICKERS: Yeah, I mean, I don’t know what the perception is. The idea for the campaign, right, is to raise awareness about the issue, to raise awareness, to encourage people to go to doctors and find a solution.

Everyone is different. It’s different for everyone. You really have to follow the advice of your doctors because every situation is unique, every person, every human is different. What they need to solve their problems are different. Obviously that’s really what the campaign is about.

We’re obviously involved with the campaign because we’ve had problems in the past. It means it could happen again. But that can happen to anyone.

It’s funny. I never would have thought in a million years that it could have happened to me six years ago, but it did. I wish I would have had the advice then that I’m giving to other people now.