An F1 Driver Reinvents Himself in Rallycross

Spend five minutes with Red Bull Global Rallycross points leader Nelson Piquet Jr.
Now that's a podium!
By Carl McKellar

Cast out by Formula One, Brazilian driver Nelson Piquet Jr. reinvented himself in NASCAR and is now the new top dog in Red Bull Global Rallycross. We caught up with him recently to discuss all sorts of things, from home life to the sport he loves with a few personal opinions thrown in.

How long does it take you to recover from an event?

Not too long, although it’s still nice to have a day to relax, if possible. The 24 hours after an event usually involve me travelling back home and unpacking. When possible it’s nice to take the boat on the lake.

If you had to thank just one person for helping you get where you are, who would it be?

For sure my father. He has supported me since the beginning and initially introduced me to the sport that I love.

Take off for Nelson

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Be careful who to trust. Don’t be naïve in a sport this competitive.

What new hobby would you like to take up?

Exploring different sports. I’d also maybe look at sheltering animals.

What other kind of machine would you like to race?

I’m really focused on rallycross right now, but it would be the Le Mans 24 Hours. I did it a few years ago and would jump at the chance to do it again.

Do you have an ambition you've yet to fulfill?

Learn to kite surf and solo skydive (I’ve done tandem before). Also go on a mission to explore nature like in the documentary "The Cove," which I love.

Nelson heads off the GRC pack

What's been your lowest point and what did you learn from it?

My transition from F1 to NASCAR was a tough time, but I learned never to give up.

Who's been your toughest opponent and what makes them so tough to beat?

Fernando Alonso when I was in F1. In my opinion he’s one of the best drivers out there. He’s quick, he’s smart, he’s a complete driver.

What's more important - money or glory?

Always the racing success. I do this sport because I love it, and having success in the sport is the best reward.

What's been your most hard fought win?

My second NASCAR Truck win in Las Vegas. It was one of my most exciting wins, as I passed the guy in front of me on the last corner of the last lap. It was my first and only shot at passing, as I had just caught up with him. It was one of those crazy moments, but it ended perfectly.

Nelson is on course for GRC gold

What three items do you pack in your bag for a race event?

Except for my race kit, I always take my Beats headphones, my iPad and my anti-allergy medicine.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure?

I love fried cheesecake!

What has been your biggest challenge?

Learning how to drive stock cars. I was basically learning a new sport as the discipline was so different to single seater racing.

What’s the best circuit/place you’ve raced on?

Macau in Formula 3 and Martinsville in NASCAR.

Who or what always makes you laugh?

"Two and a Half Men." I love Charlie Sheen!

What's your favorite room in your house?

My living room and kitchen count as one as they’re open plan! I have a huge TV in there, my computer and PlayStation, and it’s where everyone hangs out and eats!

Tune into the Red Bull Global Rallycross live broadcast on Saturday, July 26, at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT, on NBC.

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