With free practice for the United States Grand Prix starting today, I thought it was about time I learned a bit more about F1′s sole American driver, Scott Speed. Having dug around a bit, I have discovered that the man is more than just a racing driver; he’s something of a hero too.
His resumÃ© is impressive, with many national and championship karting titles between 1995 and 2001, the Russell Racing Championship in 2001, and being selected for the Red Bull American Driver Search, which he won in 2002. That same year he won the Barber Dodge and Formula Mazda Championships and then had a few races in British Formula 3 in 2003.
And it’s at this stage that Scott’s career was interrupted by a serious disease, Ulcerative Colitis. For most of the year, he was forced to forego racing as he battled the disease and it was not until he consulted an Austrian specialist that a cure was found. Determination and a program of rehabilitation ensured that he was able to test for the Red Bull Cheever IRL team in 2004, as well as gain the Formula Renault German and Eurocup Championships.
In 2005, Scott won several GP2 races, finishing 3rd in the Championship and then graduated to the Toro Rosso F1 team for 2006. In F1 terms, even disregarding his struggle with Colitis, that’s a career in the shooting star class.
Scott’s public pronouncements since entering the F1 stage have been low key and modest, but the extra coverage he is getting in the media now that the circus is in the States is thoroughly deserved. His performance in the Toro Rosso car has been solid and professional, with best finishes of 9th in Australia and 10th in Canada. America should be proud of him.
Will he prove the surprise of his home GP? It’s unlikely, as the Toro Rosso is reputed to be down on power and not suited to fast circuits therefore. But it must be added that it was one of the two fastest cars through the speed trap in Canada, a circuit that is similar in characteristics to Indianapolis.
To learn more of Scott’s battle with Colitis, go to his website (very Flash and super cool), Scottspeed.com.