Speed and family. Photo: Larry Chen/Red Bull Content Pool

Scott Speed’s blog: My time in Red Bull GRC… so far

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Editor’s note: Providing a behind the scenes take during his 2017 Red Bull Global Rallycross (GRC) season, Scott Speed, driver of the No. 41 Oberto Circle K Beetle GRC for Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross (VARX), will contribute to NBCSports.com, giving readers his view from behind the visor.

In his first blog installment, Speed looks back on his time in the series while looking ahead on his fourth season with the team, highlighting the ups and downs while heading to season-opener Memphis defending back-to-back championship titles.

The season begins at Memphis the weekend of April 29-30. Qualifying coverage airs at 12 a.m. ET on April 30 on NBCSN, the race at 1 p.m. ET on NBC. 

Photo: Larry Chen/Red Bull Content Pool

If I could sum up my time so far in GRC in one word, it’d be “exciting” for sure. From the moment I first drove a GRC car all the way to winning two championships, it’s been ups and downs; a lot of exciting highs and lows.

Standing out, winning my first X Games gold in Brazil really started it all. It was my introduction to the sport. I was brought in to guest drive that weekend and no one expected me to win. From the first time I got in the car, I felt super comfortable. We came from being the underdog to win gold. Without that moment, I wouldn’t be racing GRC now. That race changed my career.

On the flip side, Daytona last season isn’t exactly my favorite memory. Catching on fire while leading is something I don’t want to repeat, and without that we would’ve most certainly won the race. It would’ve changed the points landscape and made last year less stressful.

But in pairing with Volkswagen and Andretti Rallycross, it obviously was a great decision by everyone from the start. I think it’s one of those things where it was a no-brainer for me. Volkswagen has had so much success globally in their rallycross programs, and Michael [Andretti] has always run a first-class operation. Everyone’s been super happy this whole time and it’s been outstanding since day one.

Heading to Memphis to start the 2017 schedule, there’s some added pressure for the three-peat, no question. But I think it’s great we’re able to continue success, working together with VARX and partnering with Oberto, Circle K and Rockstar this season. Their brands fit my personality and lifestyle so well. Between Rockstar and Oberto which I consume every day, I love representing those brands. Oberto’s great for getting nutrition, especially while I’m on the road traveling so much. So I’m very much looking forward to working with everyone this season.

Defending back-to-back championships won’t be easy with the target on our backs. We’re going to hopefully go and not make the same mistakes we’ve made in past, not going to catch on fire like I did in Daytona. I know we can win, I know we’re fast enough. That’s the difference. I’d like to focus on minimizing the downsides, the small mistakes this year.

Photo: Louis Yio/Red Bull Content Pool

I’m also already looking forward to Seattle. It’s my time to go up there and have a great showing this year, and to do it in front of Oberto’s home crowd. I’m looking forward to getting redemption out west and I know we can.

Above all, I’m looking forward to having my family at the track. It’s something I’ll continue to look forward to every time I go racing like I have. For me, racing has always been a family sport. It means everything to me with GRC being so family-friendly. My dad got me in to the sport when I was younger, and my mom has supported me along the way. For my wife and kids to be around me, to share the experiences with me, it means everything. It doesn’t feel the same when they’re not at the track. It’s something I feel very passionate about, and look forward to sharing every step of the season with my family as we work hard to three-peat.



Oliver Askew: ‘I was starting to lose confidence’ after ‘hardest hit I’ve had’

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Oliver Askew knew something was medically wrong in the days after concussion-like symptoms began from “the hardest hit I’ve ever had” in the Indianapolis 500. He’d been evaluated and cleared to race after the Aug. 23 crash, but he just didn’t feel right.

The IndyCar rookie told The Associated Press on Thursday he has been experiencing dizziness, sleeping difficulties, irritability, headaches and confusion since he crashed in the Aug. 23 race. He continued to race in four more events as he tried to “play through it” until friends and family encouraged him to seek medical treatment.

He since has been diagnosed with a concussion and is working on a recovery plan with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s sports medicine concussion program, the same place NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. received care after concussions in 2012 and ’16. Askew will not compete in next weekend’s doubleheader on the road course at Indianapolis, and Arrow McLaren SP will put three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves in the No. 7 Chevrolet.

“This is all I’ve worked for,” the 23-year-old told AP. “I don’t come from money, and I’ve worked my way up and have finally gotten my shot in a good car. And then all of a sudden, the results just weren’t there in a car I knew should be performing. And I just didn’t feel like myself, you know?

“So initially I felt like I needed to stay in the car and continue to improve. And then I didn’t feel like I could do that with my condition and what was going on. I was starting to lose confidence in myself.”

Earnhardt praised Askew for going to Pittsburgh to see Dr. Micky Collins.

“Oliver is in the best hands when it comes to taking care of this problem and getting back on the racetrack. It was very smart of him to get in front of Micky so that he could understand the seriousness of the situation and begin the process of getting well,” Earnhardt said. “You can absolutely heal from this but not without taking the step of getting help. Often that’s the most difficult step.”

Athletes often hide injuries to continue competing, and even Earnhardt admittedly masked concussions during his driving career. Askew didn’t know what was wrong with him but was frightened to get out of the car.

He is a paid driver who brings no sponsorship money to the team (but did bring a $1 million scholarship for winning last year’s Indy Lights championship), and owner Sam Schmidt holds the option on his contract.

As he tried to race on, his performance suffered. Askew had finished third and sixth at Iowa — the previous two races before Indianapolis. After the crash, he was part of a multicar accident the next week at Gateway and has not finished higher than 14th in the four races since Indy.

A year after winning seven Indy Lights races, Askew has fallen from 12th to 18th in the standings and slipped considerably off the pace. He said he struggled in team debriefs, had difficulty giving feedback and has gone through a personality change that was noticeable to those close to Askew.

Spire Sports + Entertainment, which represents Askew and was among those who pushed the driver to see a doctor, noted Arrow McLaren SP did not reveal that Askew was suffering from a concussion in its Thursday announcement he would miss next week’s race.

“Oliver clearly demonstrated his talent until Lap 91 of the Indianapolis 500, and I hope this does not become another case study of why athletes do not tell their teams they are injured,” said agent Jeff Dickerson. “The reason they do that is because more often times than not they are replaced. In motorsports, there is always somebody to replace you, and whether it was Dale Jr. or Oliver Askew, there is always another driver available.

“I hope this is not a barrier to progress for other drivers — especially young drivers afraid of losing their job — to notify their teams they are hurt. I hope the team proves me wrong because the good news is, the kid has had a head injury for the past month and has still run 14th in IndyCar.”

After finally seeking medical treatment, Askew said he was relieved to learn there was something wrong. He said doctors told him the injury has a “100% recovery rate” and he believes he will be able to race in the IndyCar season finale next month at St. Petersburg. He’s been rehabilitating with exercises and tasks that strain the brain such as deliberately going to grocery stores and the airport.

“Honestly, you know, if I had not gone to see medical professionals I would probably stay in the car,” Askew said. “But now after hearing what’s wrong and that it could get worse, God forbid I have another hit, I know I did the right thing. I think I can be an example for young drivers now in stepping up and saying something is wrong, I need to have this checked out.”