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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Speed OK with F1 legacy


Scott Speed always dreamed of driving in F1, and for a brief period, he achieved his goal. One might think plying his trade in the lowly ARCA series, a developmental rung for NASCAR, would find the California native regretting his pursuit of that dream. Think again.

“Formula One was always my dream, always way above NASCAR,” Speed told USA Today. “In my mind, I have accomplished what I'm going to in my life. This is a personal challenge. If I don't make it, I wouldn't feel any worse than if I did, honestly.”

Speed, whose tenure at Toro Rosso famously busted up with an altercation with Team Principal Franz Tost after spinning off in the wet at the Nurburgring, has a realistic view of his accomplishments in the top level of motorsport.

“I did absolutely nothing in F1, but I'm 1,000 percent satisfied,” Speed says. “It's like going to college of the world. I never went to college, but I know a lot because I had the opportunity to live in Europe and travel the world.”

Despite being the final nail in the coffin of Red Bull’s search for the next American Formula One driver, Speed maintains a close relationship with Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz, who gave him his opportunity in stock car racing.

Speed has now won four races in ARCA. His original deal has since been expanded to include trucks and testing with the Cup team. In May, Speed also won in the truck series.

Jay Frye, general manager of NASCAR's Red Bull Racing Team, said Speed had exceeded expectations and is in line for a Cup race in large part because he is a quick learner.

Interestingly, it often seemed his inability to cope with the atmosphere at Toro Rosso, along with the need for coaching to hone his talents, which helped lead to his departure from F1.

Many chalk that up to arrogance, and it is a criticism which continues to follow him in the States. According to USA Today, he played down the quality of the IndyCar series as “not a challenge” and still considers himself “as good as” every other F1 driver. Speed and company are deny that.

“I don't have an ego," Speed said. “And everyone that knows me here realizes it. I know I'm not the best (NASCAR) driver. I probably never will be, because I didn't grow up racing this stuff. I care a lot about it, but I keep it in perspective. We're entertaining fans.”

In his defense, Toro Rosso seems hardly the place to develop a career in F1, as Sebastien Bourdais is finding out in painful fashion.

There is an odd tone in Speed’s answers these days, as if accomplishing his goal and losing it so quickly has left him drifting. So what does the future hold for the “angry young American,” who apart from having fun seems to have little motivation.

“I have no goal,” he said. “I'm going to go into this sport as long as I can keep going forward. If I'm not learning anymore, I won't sit in Cup and make money. No way. I'll go do something else. After everything is done, going to truck and racing, I could easily do and be happy with my life."

Michael Andretti to be inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America

Michael Andretti, the former F1 driver, IndyCar star and current team owner, is among seven inductees to the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.

Father Mario will made the introduction.

“It's a very proud moment," said Andretti, “Those are the things I never thought about when I was competing. I guess when you get to the end of your driving career and are recognized for what you've done it's a pretty proud moment. And to be in there with my father, who is the greatest of all time, and who will be introducing me it will be a very special night.”

Sports car champion and former F1 driver Richie Ginther was also be inducted. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six

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