It has been a protracted, unusual journey to NASCAR for Bamber
NASCAR followers, are you prepared for the Earl Bamber Expertise? The Xfinity Collection’ latest driver is inventory automotive racing’s equal of a twangy-voiced unicorn.
Born in New Zealand. Lives in Malaysia. Drives for Porsche. Defending IMSA GT champion. Two-time general winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans within the warp-speed, alien-tech 919 Hybrid. It’s a recipe that means the 30-year-old Kiwi and the blue-collar world of NASCAR would by no means be a pure match, however that’s the place his unicorn standing comes into play.
The trail to driving for Richard Childress Racing Saturday on the Daytona highway course entails certainly one of many unusual tales from Bamber. For individuals who know him, such tales are hardly ever in brief provide from one of many sport’s most fascinatingly humorous characters.
On his future to drive in NASCAR:
“It is a good story, truly — it goes again most likely 13 years,” Bamber informed RACER. “I met Richard Childress when he got here searching with my father in New Zealand. My dad does that for a dwelling. So I met him there, after which he invited me to come back to America. So simply after they received the Daytona 500 in 2007 with Kevin Harvick, I came visiting right here for a month. I went to Watkins Glen. It was my first NASCAR race. Then Harvick and Juan Montoya had a combat. In order that was a reasonably humorous aircraft journey residence with Richard, I can inform you that. Then we did some dust monitor racing.
“He requested me someday, ‘Do you need to check?’ And I mentioned, ‘Yeah, certain. I’d like to check.’ And I wasn’t allowed to check on the ovals as a result of I used to be beneath 18. So he mentioned, ‘Oh, properly, we’re going to go Legends testing with Ty Dillon. So if you wish to go drive, you possibly can.’ We went up to what’s now the place Richard Petty Motorsports is, the place they used to run their dust vehicles and their Legends vehicles out of. And there was this Legends automotive with out an engine in it. So he informed me, ‘You’ve acquired per week to construct your Legends automotive’ after which he’ll tow it down there and he’ll pay for it. So I mentioned, ‘OK.’ However I don’t know s**t about placing stuff in vehicles… Solely one of many oil strains fell off… In order that was OK. Properly, truly the one factor that fell off is one thing that I didn’t placed on. So I used to be completely happy.
“We went to Lanier Speedway, throughout from Street Atlanta, and that was my first — properly it’s my solely time — I drove correctly on an oval. I cherished it. It was tremendous cool. I virtually crashed on the out-lap as a result of I hit the brake too onerous. Only a nasty factor. Then Richard goes, ‘Oh properly, I wasn’t actually when you may truly put the engine in or not.’ He was simply curious if I actually wished to go racing. And ever since I used to be 17, we’ve been in contact and at all times watch them and saved in touch with them.”
On practically making his NASCAR debut with RCR a number of years in the past:
“There was an opportunity — he managed to place one thing collectively and it was going to be a three-race deal. However somebody on this facet of issues blocked it, in order that was a little bit of a disgrace. I launched RCR to KCMG years in the past and now lastly managed to get inside one of many Xfinity vehicles. So, 13 years it took to lastly drive in NASCAR. Some individuals suppose it simply got here out of the blue, however it truly hasn’t.”
On how his IMSA Porsche 911 RSR program chief Pascal Zurlinden is trying ahead to a report on Bamber’s Xfinity drive:
“Curiously sufficient, Pascal’s actually eager on me doing the NASCAR stuff as a result of all of the attainable crossovers of what they’re doing and what we do in GT racing. There’s already some stuff that they do — which is unbelievable — which we don’t do. There’s some stuff that they don’t have that we’ve got. So it’s at all times actually, actually fascinating.”
On getting settled within the No. 21 RCR Chevy Camaro:
“Since I received’t get observe time at Daytona, we’ve achieved plenty of prep work within the workshop, simply getting snug within the seat, working all that stuff out. Me being me, I requested a billion questions on it. Why do you are taking it out of substances on the pit cease? Why do you do that? Or why do you try this? I get plenty of solutions, like ‘That’s simply NASCAR, don’t ask.
“Really, to be trustworthy, you hear these tales of NASCAR groups being very closed-shop and really onerous to get into, however the guys have been nice. The blokes have been actually superior. The blokes on the store flooring, they’ve been actually cool, the blokes which can be constructing the automotive up. On that facet, the prep’s gone properly. I’ve even managed to place a 911 RSR pedal within the automotive.
“Yeah, as a result of I didn’t just like the brake pedal, so I’m like, ‘Can I put this Porsche one in?’ They usually had been like, ‘Yeah, certain.’”
On being impressed with the administration and precision he’s discovered at RCR:
“Their planning and execution is the same as what we do with the RSR program, which is spectacular. Everybody at all times says that inventory automotive racing and groups are archaic and stuff, however they’re not. The physique match males and the physique builders are unreal. I’ve already seen the automotive run on the rolling highway engine dyno. It’s been on the seven-post rig; they’re going to do some testing with the dampers and do all that stuff. I’ll most likely have 20-24 hours whole within the simulator earlier than the race. And what they do within the simulator, they methodically observe up and verify with every thing that they will probably verify. There’s no workforce in Europe that’s acquired their very own seven-post shaker rig in a workshop that is aware of what to do with it. Folks say they’re fundamental in NASCAR, however they’re not.”
On the problem of firing into Flip 1 on Saturday with zero NASCAR driving expertise:
“I like it. If you recognize me as a driver, it’s precisely what I like. (Porsche co-driver Laurens) Vanthoor has a extremely good story of me that yr when he flipped at Macau after we had been in several vehicles. Earlier than he crashed, he mentioned, ‘This fool was flashing his lights at me, pushing like an animal on the out-lap already,’ which was me… So he let me by. And he was like, ‘For certain, he’s going to crash. He was proper up towards the partitions, in every single place.’ However I didn’t. And I used to be sooner. So he at all times winds me up as a result of we’ve got an out-lap competitors every weekend within the Porsche. I used to be at all times taught from a child to push on the out-laps simply to get a really feel shortly for what’s beneath you, and that’s the job right here with RCR.
“I’ve pushed a lot bizarre stuff in my profession that I feel I’ll be all proper. I feel when you had been a driver that’s solely ever achieved single-seaters, or Cup, it will be onerous. However I’ve raced two-liter front-wheel-drive Hondas. I’ve pushed Trans Ams, V8 Supercars, all types of random stuff. I’ve even achieved world Time Assault. So I’m certain I’ll survive.”