Podcast F1 Unlocked
FULL TRANSCRIPT: Read every word from Scott Speed’s fascinating Beyond The Grid interview
Scott Speed is the guest on the Beyond The Grid podcast – presented by Salesforce – this week, joining host Tom Clarkson for a chat about his F1 journey, how long it’s been since he last attended a Grand Prix and just what has changed in F1 since he departed the sport back in 2007…
Read every word from the interview in the transcript below, listen to the episode in the audio player below, or head here to catch it on your preferred platform.
Tom Clarkson: Scott, it's great to have you on the show. How are you?
Scott Speed: I'm great. I'm fresh off the Miami GP, so I feel like I have a little bit of F1 in me at the moment. But prior to that, it's been some time, so really cool to see the race this past weekend and run into old friends. A lot of the people that I've known in F1, they're all in different teams now. It’s pretty crazy!
TC: When were you last at a race?
SS: The last race I was at before the Miami race was my last race in Nurburgring with Toro Rosso.
TC: So European Grand Prix 2007. Did you feel that the sport had changed as you walked around the Miami paddock?
SS: Honestly, not at all. Everything was so similar to how I remembered, but it’s been so long ago that I'm sure my memory isn't that great either.
TC: Who did you catch up with?
SS: Honestly, the coolest people I ran into were the ones that I was obviously the closest with when I was over there. That was Fabian at Toro Rosso and Franz Tost. It was really great to run into Franz because the last time I saw him in Formula 1, he was literally like strangling me. Obviously as an adult now, and someone with some perspective, it was super special. I was glad to give him a big hug. And he's retiring now, so it was cool to be able to see him and also cool to see that Red Bull are Formula 1 World Champions. I remember the exact day when they bought Jaguar and I remember sitting in the green Jaguar at Hockenheim in 2004, so to see how much success Red Bull’s had is pretty cool.
TC: And you still have the Red Bull connection because you're wearing the Red Bull hat as I speak to you now. I think you were with Red Bull last weekend in Miami as well?
SS: Yeah, I was. As always, Red Bull does a really great job with our athletes and bringing people who are incredibly successful in their discipline together into this environment, where people can get to know each other and be around people who are really special at their sport or their discipline, whether that's an influencer, or a skateboarder, or a skier, they attract a lot of really cool individuals.
TC: There were some really cool individuals in Miami. I mean, the guest list is phenomenal. On the grid, it is like a tidal wave of celebrities moving from the back towards the front. It's extraordinary. It's unlike any other race, I must say.
SS: I think there's a little bit of that in NASCAR as well. But nothing compares to that of Formula 1. And in a lot of ways, it almost distracts from the actual motor racing aspect of it, which is obviously the part that I've been involved in my whole life. But it’s a very big event.
TC: Let's wind the clock back now. We're going to talk about your time in Formula 1. When you think back to those years with Toro Rosso, what's the first thing that comes to mind?
SS: Oh gosh, how young and uneducated I was. Massive ego. I just look back at a silly kid. It's kind of embarrassing, honestly. I obviously had a lot of ability. I was very good at driving that type of vehicle. I don't think I was at the level of Rosbergs or your Lewis’s from my generation. Those guys were special. Obviously, Lewis still is because he's still competing with this next generation of driver, which is remarkable and truly insane. But my reason for competing was that I wanted to see how good I was. I certainly didn't have a good mindset. I was put into some incredibly great environments by Red Bull to help me succeed and help me develop, because when I left America and went over there, I didn't have the ability to do it, but they did a great job of placing me with good teams up the ladder where I could learn, even though I didn't realize I was learning. I just thought that, if I was fast, it was because the car was good and if we were slow, then the car was crap. I had no responsibility for any of that. I honestly just thought that as a racing driver you were either fast or you were slow, which is pretty silly. But at the time that was my perspective. So for me it was more like ‘Well, how far can I go on motor racing?’ Once I saw where that was, I realised, ‘I'm a pretty decent F1 driver. I can compete with these guys.’ And in my mind I was like ‘yeah, if I change teams, I could run over here and I could run in this position.’ I'd mapped it all out. When I realised that I was checked out, I didn't have the drive to keep getting better. I didn't have the drive to keep pushing myself. Without that proper motivation, it ended the way it did. I wasn't the guy that was going to take a team and make everything better.
TC: At what stage in your career did all that make more sense to you?
SS: Well, I think the first thing that happened was that I came back to America and I thought I was going to get into a cup car and just win because I was an F1 driver. After a year of racing stock cars, I got into a cup car at Charlotte and I was literally the second fastest guy on the board. Then I got out there with 35 other guys and was destroyed. I think I finished my first race three laps down. It's amazing how much the ego will protect you because it took me a while for me to finally run into that wall, that maybe there's some things that I can get better at. At the end of my main foray into NASCAR before Red Bull shut down their NASCAR team, I'd kind of figured some of that out and I started having some pretty good results. I had a couple of top tens and I was getting better. That really motivated me. Once I did finally realise that I could get better and put effort into that, that was a magical moment, because then I had control. That growth was really rewarding.
TC: If you had that attitude in Formula 1, do you think you could have achieved more?
SS: Well, I would be better, no question. Achievement in Formula 1 is so difficult because there's so many guys that are in Formula 1 that don't have a Formula 1 World Championship, but they're amazing. So depending on your era and your timing of when you're in there or when you're not, it’s incredibly important. For me personally, there was a really small window where I was going to make it to Formula 1 because we had no money as a family. Red Bull funded everything for me. That wasn't there before I got there and it went away soon after I got there. So it was really a fortunate timing for me. In this small piece of time where you could have no money but just be incredibly talented, Red Bull had this system where they were fostering guys like [Sebastian] Vettel, for example, and it was only a few years of window where that was the case. And after that, you needed to start bringing money and that was never going to be a possibility for me. I would have been better going back, knowing what I do now. But I think that's also the case for almost anybody in that case. As you get older, you get wiser and you start improving. But also in that sense, I am now doing that work in America. I have a very good friend called Josh Wise. For the last few years, we have got a driver development programme here, focusing on the driver and how they can improve and giving them the tools that that we didn't have in our generation. There is so much energy that goes into making the cars better, but there's never been, at least in my career, someone that has been there to help make the driver better so to now be spending my energy and time in that role has been really rewarding.
TC: Why Formula 1 for you in the first place?
SS: That's what my dad watched. Simple as that. It’s just the environment I grew up in. When I was a kid, I watched my dad race a go kart. I watched my dad, the national champion in a go kart, from an early age. My identity was around wanting to be like my dad. My dad watched Formula 1 on the weekend. Michael Schumacher was his favourite driver. I wanted to be like Michael Schumacher. I wanted to make my dad proud. He was so great because he never put any pressure on me to win or perform. He just allowed me to chase my dream and he was incredibly supportive with that. But he's the one that laid that groundwork for me to want to do that.
TC: And at what point did it get serious?
SS: Well, I had been watching my dad at the go-kart track since I was three. What I didn't realise was how much I was actually learning doing that, because I got my very first go kart at ten years old and right away I was really good at it. A year later, I won a national title in a go kart. From that moment, because all that success came so quick, I was able to get sponsored. I had an engine sponsor, a go kart sponsor. That's the only reason why we were able to race. But that gave me this identity that I was just a naturally talented race car driver. I didn't practice. I didn't need anybody to tell me how to do it. I held on to that for so long and it became why I wanted to find out how good I was. The first time I won a national title, I realised this is what I wanted to do. ‘I want to go to Formula 1.’ I knew that crystal clear at the age of 11.
TC: How were you going to navigate your way into Formula 1 at this point?
SS: I had no idea. I just knew that's where I wanted to be. I didn't really spend any energy trying to figure out what that path looked like. I just put all the energy into winning races and being as fast as I could. If it wasn't for Red Bull, I'd be in college or I'd be a mechanical engineer right now. I finished karting here in America at the highest level. I felt like I was the best American karter, or at least one of. I had gotten a couple opportunities to race open wheel cars because of that. I was successful doing that. But there was no more money left to keep going. I went as far as I could and then I was going to college. I'd done a semester at a community college nearby, and then I got the call from Danny Sullivan saying, ‘hey, Red Bull's got this American F1 driver search. You've been invited.’ I was one of 16 guys to trial for this thing. If not for that call, if it wasn't for the people that were involved in making that happen, then I'm a mechanical engineer right now, not a racing driver.
TC: Danny Sullivan was one of the FIA stewards at the Miami Grand Prix last weekend and he waxed lyrical about you. He said that at the final for that Red Bull Driver search in Paul Ricard, you were far and away the quickest guy there and you were incredibly impressive. You get the deal. What was it like for you moving to Europe?
SS: Well, it's incredibly different. Ultimately, that's the major factor of where my time in Europe ends because it was too hard for me. The first year I spent in England. The personalities are very different. Life there is very different and also I had ulcerative colitis at the time too, so I had an issue with my digestive system, which was super difficult. I basically had to walk around wearing diapers, so there was lots of challenges there. But ultimately, just living in a country that's not yours in an incredibly stressful part of your life, was much more difficult than I think people give it credit for. That said, the racing was awesome. All of a sudden, you're racing against the best guys in the world and it's incredibly challenging. That part was great. That was super fun. But the first year was really tough. We did terrible. But luckily Doctor Helmut Marko and the guys at Red Bull were sure that I had the talent to do it. They gave me another chance, and a different team, and a different opportunity. Then in the second year over there in Europe, we had real success and I think to this point, I'm still the only American that's actually won a championship over there. I won two in 2004, the German and European championship. We got to a really good level. We carried that momentum into GP2 and had an amazing team there. Then I eventually got the ride when Red Bull bought Minardi and made Toro Rosso.
TC: Can I just ask you a bit more about that ulcerative colitis. Did you think that that was the end of your career? How serious did things get at that point?
SS: After my first year in Europe, I thought we weren’t very good because I’d finished in the top ten maybe twice in F3. Historically, I thought Americans weren't as good at open-wheel racing as the guys in Europe. You have to go and compete against the best to become the best. If you're going to do that, European karting and European open-wheel racing is the most competitive in the world. If you don't get that experience there, I imagine it's really hard to reach that level. When I went over there and I was running where I was, I thought ‘yeah this is about what I expected, I guess. At least I gave it a shot.’ I was very surprised that I got another opportunity. When I was sick in my classes there, I didn't even go to the last races in F3. I just went home to recover. Red Bull said ‘we want to give you another shot.’ Then everything changed. All of a sudden, we're winning races now. I remember so specifically going to my first real test, it was in Magny Courts, where I was like the fast guy. I couldn't believe it. But I didn't realise it was me getting better. I had convinced myself that the car that I raced in F3 was just a crap car and now I'm in a good car. That held me back a lot because all of the education and all of my improvement happened on the peripheral, without me doing it with intention.
TC: In these years before Formula 1, who was your touch point at Red Bull? Was it still Danny Sullivan or was it now Helmut Marko?
SS: No, it was never Danny. Danny was the presenter for the American Driver Search. But it wasn't someone that I connected with. That's because I was a super cocky, arrogant kid who had no idea that there was someone that I could call and get mentorship from. Danny is an awesome guy. He would have been a great resource for me. It didn't even cross my mind to ask him a question. So yeah, when I think back to young Scott, I think of stuff like that. Like, what are you doing?
TC: So who was your touchpoint?
SS: The ultimate touch boss is Helmut Marko. That was always a scary call.
TC: Did you see him in Miami last week?
SS: No, I didn't run into him. But he was great. I love Helmut. I really enjoyed Helmut because I kind of think the way he does. I don't like opinions, I like facts. Marko is a fact guy so I got along really well actually with him. It's really cool to see that they’ve achieved so much success at the highest level of motor racing.
TC: Did Helmut become a bit like a manager to you? And if you had your time again, do you think it would have helped you to have had a bespoke Scott Speed manager, someone batting for you?
SS: Helmut and Red Bull did kind of act like a manager for us because they were making sure we were in the right environment. They had moved me after the first year to Austria so I could be right next to the training centre. They moved me to a quiet place, where I was around a lot of elite athletes. At the time I had no idea what was happening, but they were creating this environment around me where I was in a really great place to thrive. That’s why I had success after. They were pulling strings and putting me in places where I could be successful. Whether I had a manager to negotiate with teams and all that, that wouldn't have made any difference. The thing that would have made a difference is if I had someone like what I am trying to do now. To be able to connect with a driver and to be able to relate with what that life is like here. You're so isolated as a racing driver. You're part of this big team, but really there's no one there doing what you're doing. You're in such a unique area and you have such a big responsibility. Having someone that could have helped me with my mindset and with the way I thought about things, that’s the only thing that would have made a difference.
TC: That feeling of isolation as a racing driver, whether you're in Formula One, GP2, NASCAR, IndyCar, is it all the same?
SS: I imagine it is. It's a very unique position you're in. Most racing drivers, when they're done, a lot of them either get out of the sport or they're doing presenting. There's not a lot that have gone the way we have. When I came over to America to race NASCAR, one of the first people I ran into, who has become one of my best friends, is Josh Wise. He was the best sprint car driver in the country. We both started ARCA Racing at the same time, which is like the ladder system to NASCAR. He was also from California. NASCAR, especially at the time, was a pretty southern sport. In a lot of ways, I had more culture shock coming to race in NASCAR than I did moving to Europe because it's a very different group of people and a very different environment. Because we're both from California, we bonded easily. When his racing opportunities ran out around six years ago, he had this idea: ‘well, who's helping us drive race cars better?’ That doesn't exist. There's not a school. You can go to some place where they'll train you and get you fitter and that's great, but that's not it. He went back to school and started studying psychology. He ended up getting his degree in psychology and started working with NASCAR drivers. Two years ago, when COVID happened and our rallycross racing got shut down, I started going to the go-kart track with my dad and my brother. They still have a national-level karting team. I started helping this young kid. I went to a couple of race weekends and he ended up winning his first real big national race and the joy that I had from watching this kid find some success and to see how happy he was with that, that was it. I knew at that moment, just as crystal clear as I knew when I was 11 years old that I wanted to go to Formula 1, that the thing I really want in life to influence people. I want to be able to help people. A lot of my energy now, whether that's studying psychology or communication, is making me better at being able to influence these drivers and to be able to help create environments for them where they can get better and they can succeed. I'd never been the person that really wanted Formula 1 because of the success or because of the trophies. For me it was always about needing to prove to myself how good I was. This is an easy fit for me to be able to transition to this place where I don't need to be the person at the centre of attention. I don’t need to be the one winning the trophies. To be able to help someone get better, that gives me more energy.
TC: I can feel your passion just talking about it. There are so many young driver programmes in Europe and most Formula 1 teams have a young driver program. Could you see yourselves helping some of these young driver programs over here, or are you going to keep independent and in the US?
SS: I like helping humans. I'm not even going to narrow what we do to racing. I think as we grow and create more orbits, they're going to be in different sports and in totally different environments. But the clarity of purpose is what makes it so easy to get up at five in the morning and put in the hours and put in the work. What was really interesting is, we went to Miami and got to hang around some incredibly successful Red Bull athletes, whether they're influencers or skateboarders. You get to talk to these humans and their mindset is so similar. It's not by accident. I can almost talk to these people and understand how they're thinking about problems and how they're thinking about energy. And I'm not surprised at all that they’re successful doing what they’re doing.
TC: Can I take you back to 2005? You got five podiums in GP2 and there was a pole position as well. That was a pukka field of drivers that year. Nico Rosberg won the championship. Heikki Kovalainen was there. There were a lot of people who went on to achieve great things in motorsport. How good was your performance that year? Was that the moment that you really thought, ‘I can perform on a par with these guys,’ or did that happen earlier?
SS: Well, it's the moment I realised that I wasn't quite as good as Nico. Their cars were great but I knew I wasn't quite there. I remember when I did my first test in Formula 1, it was in Barcelona. The people that I tested against for that ride, I remember thinking specifically, ‘wow, these guys are all really good.’ And there was a couple of guys that I actually thought were better than I was. But there's something about a Formula 1 car, about driving at that level of grip, that suited me because I will never forget coming in after my first session in the car and realising that I was faster than all these guys. It didn't feel hard. I almost felt confused as to why I was fast. But I think it's one of those things where you can either feel the tyre grip on the edge at four and a half G’s or you can't. It becomes sharper and that suited me. It's ultimately what won me that ride.
TC: What about 2006 then? Red Bull have just bought Minardi. What sort of team were you getting that first ride in Formula 1 with?
SS: It's so hard to explain because the level is so high, I couldn't tell the difference. I wouldn't know a good mechanic from a bad mechanic or a good aerodynamicist from a bad one. They were all at a level and I'm someone that liked helping with the car. I liked engineering the car. I loved thinking that way more than I liked thinking about trying to drive better. When you get to Formula 1, I was never able to even come up with a thought that my engineer had not already thought about and explained to me in a very eloquent way. So my only contribution can be driving. I couldn't help with setting the car up or strategy. I did give some inputs, but the level was so high. I was a child among men in that area. The only thing that I could do was drive fast. For someone that honestly didn't think I could get any better doing that, I ran out of the energy and motivation to do it. I know clear as day now, that’s why my career went the way it did and why, at the first chance I had at a different opportunity and that I felt like I could challenge myself, I took it.
TC: How big a deal was it that you were an American racing in Formula 1?
SS: I don't remember ever feeling anything about being an American. It sounds strange but I lived in Europe. I was around Europeans for four years up to that point. I didn't feel like I was an American in some ways. I think I was more outgoing than most people, I think maybe even more friendly than most people. But the fact that I was American doing it, it wasn't really part of my identity. I identified more as a solid, open-wheel racing driver who’s trying to climb the ladder the same as all these other guys.
TC: Your teammate was Vitantonio Liuzzi. A Formula 3000 champion. a karting world champion. How did you two rub along together?
SS: Vitantonio is still a great friend. Tonio and Christian Klien, we were like the little wolfpack from The Hangover. That was us. We were three best friends. Tonio is an amazing human. The cool thing about Tonio was that he was a karting world champion and I had a lot of success in America. It was cool because I got to see how much higher his karting IQ was than mine. There were many situations where we'd go karting somewhere and I would realise how much higher that level was that he was at. His body awareness and what he was physically doing in the kart to make the kart do things were things that I never even thought of. His level was so high in a go kart. It was cool for someone that thought they were really good at something to realise there's a whole other step that Tonio was at, which was way better than where I was.
TC: In 2006, your third race at Melbourne, you crossed the line but you're given a 25 second time penalty for overtaking under yellow flags. You then get a £5,000 fine for swearing at David Coulthard in the stewards hearing. What went on there?
SS: There was a crash in Melbourne towards the end of the race and to miss the crash, I went around David. He had to make a pit stop anyway, so he was never going to be a factor in where I was going to finish. They went and protested it and I remember thinking ‘really? I didn't affect your result at all. I was going to beat you either way. You had to make a pit stop.’ I just could not understand what he was getting after. In the meeting they were showing a video and a yellow flag came out to 90 degrees of where he was. And he's like, ‘Yeah, I saw that yellow and I stopped.’ He was a lot smarter than I was so I was left with an ‘F-off’ comment because that was what I was capable of putting out. He was basically taking something away from me that wasn't going to gain him anything. That set the tone for me for how cut-throat that world was and I couldn’t believe something would be so important to someone. It didn't gain him anything, but it costed us a point. I was way outmatched there cognitively. I had that speed but I couldn't think about going fast and how to politic my way over here, and make relationships over here. I was just focused on driving fast. Moments like that where I look back are so great because I was just such a dumb kid.
TC: The second race I wanted to ask you about was the US Grand Prix that year. Was it special racing at Indianapolis?
SS: It was because I got to see some family that week. But honestly, I still have memories of this too. America seemed so different to me than it does now. When you live in Europe for four years and you come back to America, it just looked different. It felt amazing. It almost felt like a different world because I wasn't American really. I had not lived here. I didn't know anything that was going on in motor racing. In fact, I ran into Jimmy Johnson, who at that time had already won a couple of Cup championships on the grid, and I asked him what he did. I was so disconnected from America. It almost felt like a foreign country to me. It didn't feel like home. It felt weird. Honestly, in a lot of ways, I think that's why in my second year, I had my brother move to Austria with me so I had someone from home to be with. I think it was just this accumulation of stresses for me of being in Europe and being in an uncomfortable place for so long. The more time I was in Europe, it was just draining the energy that I was able to put into the racing. He basically got me through another year because I don't think I would have even got through 2007 without him there. It was just too much and to be fair, in a lot of ways I didn’t because I just checked out.
TC: 2007, I felt, got off to a not a great start in that you were confirmed by the team very late. I don't know what you were being told at the time, but I remember thinking that's not great preparation if you're a racing driver.
SS: I don't think I was even thinking about it. If they weren't going to take me back then I honestly don't even think I cared. I didn't know what I was going to do after, but it wasn't something that I was like waiting around the phone stressed about.
TC: What about someone like Gerhard Berger? He was a part owner of the team, obviously a former racer himself. Was he a good influence on you?
SS: He had no real influence on me, honestly. He certainly didn't help anything. Again, you’ve got someone that raced in Formula 1, I didn't go up to this human one time and ask them a question. How ridiculous does that sound? I think he reacted to it the way anybody would. I if I was in his shoes, I'd be the same way. I have this cocky kid out here doing whatever he thinks is right. He's literally not even asked me anything. I would have probably treated me the same way he did. Like, what is this kid doing?
TC: You seem to have not only learned a lot, but you're now clearly applying everything you've learned into helping other people?
SS: Yeah, it's a great space and I still have lots to learn. The first time I started reading about psychology and behaviour, and realised that I could change the way I actually act by just thinking about something differently, or having an understanding of what's happening inside my brain, that was magical to me. My whole life, I'd put effort into learning how to drive fast and I got pretty good at that. Now I actually am doing something that affects every interaction that I have with a human all day long. That's fun. That's fun to try and unpack why I'm thinking about things the way I am and also even learning different strategies for communicating to people, and how I can affect people positively or negatively. I think developing empathy towards others was something that has probably been the biggest change to me, along with the loss of ego. Those have been really powerful changes to be more considerate of. I think the really cool thing is to understand that everyone's perspective on something is different. Five people see a car go through a corner and have five different opinions on what happened because they're seeing it from their own individual perspective. That's beautiful. I love that part of motor racing, especially when you have drivers too, because you could have a couple of kids and to get the most out of these kids individually, I can't tell everybody the same thing. I know how to drive almost anything, but I can't just tell someone how I would do it. I have to figure out how they're thinking about it, and I have to really ask them the right questions for them to want to think about it differently. I can't give someone unsolicited advice. It’s this cool game of trying to engineer the mental aspect of motor racing and being a kid that’s trying to perform at the highest level of motor racing. It's so cool to try to figure out how to touch and move that.
TC: Scott, there's just one more Formula 1 thing I wanted to ask you about. We touched on it right at the beginning, the European Grand Prix at Nürburgring in 2007. It was your last race in Formula 1. A completely chaotic race. It was raining, everyone was spinning out. Markus Winkelhock was leading the race at one point. What are your memories of what happened after the race?
SS: What a great last race, honestly. Our car, as was proven by Vettel later in the year, was extremely good in the wet. I remember in practice in Monaco, I was P1 on the board at some point in the rain. Our car, for whatever reason, it was really fast in the rain. We started really far back on the grid. We were like 18th and 19th. I think I came to the pits 11th and I passed seven cars on my way, but they had the wrong tyres in the pit box. When they changed my tyres, they put toenails on and then they had to take toenails off. It basically cost us a ton of time. The race was over really from that point. Next lap, coming down the front straight, so much water had come down. It's a really downhill corner. When I went to the brakes I just hydroplaned. I didn’t even come close to making it. I went by the apex going 150 miles an hour, there was no way I was making it. So I crashed into the wall. As you saw, Lewis crashed there, [Jenson] Button was in the wall there. Everybody started crashing there. I remember thinking that was super fun. I know we didn't get a result, but I passed a lot of cars. I remember passing Ralf Schumacher on the outside of one of these corners in the wet. It was so cool to feel like I had a fast car and I was making moves. I had such a great experience and Franz [Tost] was super pissed. I was just too happy about what happened. He asked what happened in Turn 1. I said ‘well, the same thing that happened to everybody else down there. I hydroplaned off the track. What do you mean what happened? There's seven cars sitting out there.’ And he says ‘no, not everybody, just the w*****s.’ I told him to ‘f-off’ and I just totally dismissed him. He came chasing after me and let me know how displeased he was. I probably would have acted the same way. I showed him zero respect. I was just this young cocky kid and I finally found the limit of Franz's patience. I finally broke him. I think I was at home waiting to go to the next race. They called and said they’re going to put Vettel in the car. At that point Vettel was like the golden child. I remember watching by the computer at the Hungaroring. Sure enough, Vettel qualifies 19th. I don’t remember where he raced but it wasn’t amazing at all. Then I knew for sure. ‘Well, okay, great. I can pack my bag, I can go wherever I want. I know that I'm elite. I know I'm one of the best. Maybe I'm not the best but I was so far beyond what I thought as a kid I would ever achieve, I was super happy. Then came the opportunities, the meetings with Williams and other opportunities to race. But ultimately, when I met with Dietrich Mateschitz soon after, I said ‘I want to go home. Can we race NASCAR?’ He was fully supportive and I started a really humbling journey. The dissolution of the Scott Speed ego began at that moment.
TC: You obviously had an amazing relationship with Dietrich Mateschitz?
SS: Yeah, I think had a great relationship with everybody. One thing I certainly understood always was what Red Bull did for me. To this day I'll be a supporter of that brand because I know very clearly that if not for that brand Red Bull, I'm not racing cars. No question in my mind. I had no ability to go find sponsorship. I was a super shy kid. I couldn't talk to team owners. I couldn't sell myself at all. That felt really awkward to try to convince someone that I could drive a car fast. I was going to school like that. That ship had sailed. If it wasn't for Red Bull, I'm not racing cars. I knew, regardless if that situation in F1 didn't work out, I still owe my whole racing career to Red Bull.
TC: What is the coolest thing you've done in a car since F1?
SS: X-Games gold medals, for sure. I actually hope I have those. As a kid, I grew up watching Bucky Lasek and Tony Hawk and all these X-Games guys. I have three X-Games gold medals. That's easily the coolest stuff I have. Rallycross is not F1, right? It's not this level, but it's super cool and I got some pretty cool hardware.
TC: Scott, it's been wonderful to chat it all through. What an amazing career you've had both in F1 and afterwards as well. Thank you very much for your time.
SS: Thank you. Great chatting with you and great bringing up awesome memories!