Thursday, February 22, 2018
Sports

Despite appearances, Will Power is one of IndyCar's biggest goofballs and wackiest characters

ST. PETERSBURG — As his new series and first-year team marketed him as a rising star in front of national reporters and the bright lights of New York, Will Power played with a fart machine.

His wife laughs as she tells the story of Power pulling pranks with then-teammate Oriol Servia at his rookie media day four years ago. The jokes provide a rare glimpse at the off-track quirkiness of one of the IndyCar Series' top talents and unknown personalities.

The public sees the two-time series runner-up as a humble 31-year-old with an Australian accent and a competitive drive befitting his unmistakable name. Those in the series know Power as one of their sport's biggest goofballs and wackiest characters.

"He's so focused race weekend that people don't get to see it," said his wife, Liz. "At home and away from the track, he's just a riot."

Power's antics began growing up in Toowoomba, Australia at a home overrun with creativity. His father, Bob, was an open-wheel driver. His three brothers became a stand-up comedian, a break dancer and (yawn) an accountant.

The quartet shared their father's love of extreme sports and competition. They hopped one, then two, then three 20-liter barrels on their bikes — until one snapped in half. They drove go-carts and tried dirt racing.

Power used his first paycheck from stocking shelves at a warehouse to buy a drum kit. The next ones fed a skateboarding addiction that chewed through two pairs of shoes and a board every month.

"I guess with my parents we were a real handful, no question," Power said.

Power eventually graduated from being pushed around in a plastic car by his brothers to racing the real thing. His spontaneity and sense of humor never changed.

As a Champ Car rookie in 2006, Power let his brother Damien impersonate him at the series' stop in Australia, to laughs from fans and amazement from his future wife. The joke turned on Power months later when his too-good-to-be-true name became a punch line in Damien's stand-up routine.

"He'd give me (a hard time) about my name," Power said.

Power took the jabs in stride and won't take himself too seriously, especially around his brothers. Soon after he proposed to Liz, the couple visited Toowoomba for their first Christmas with Power's full family. The brothers borrowed props from one of Nick's choreographed routines to try break dancing — on stilts.

"It was the craziest thing I had ever seen," Liz Power said. "His poor mother was freaking out. She didn't want them to mess up the carpet."

The break dancing continued at their wedding, much to the surprise of Liz's Texan family and her 90-year-old grandmother.

The public gets peeks of Power's goofy side.

He jammed with a music school band in August to promote the Sonoma race. Cameras caught him sneaking bites of a honey and banana sandwich in the cockpit during a red flag at Brazil. He posed for pictures with a hotel worker in Baltimore wearing Family Guy boxers and a T-shirt that read "Heartthrob."

At media day this month, Power cracked that since Danica Patrick has bolted for NASCAR, he'd love to take her GoDaddy commercials. He deadpanned before correcting himself to say Verizon, which surely pleased the sponsor of his No. 12 Chevrolet.

"He's a funny guy, when you get to know him," driver Graham Rahal said. "Most of the conversations I have with Will, I just spend a lot of my time laughing. I think he'd be a really good ambassador for the sport."

But when Power gets to the track, his comic side disappears. The laser focus honed from battling three brothers takes over.

Since joining juggernaut Team Penske full time in 2010, he has won a series-best 11 races — including the 2010 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg — and finished second to Dario Franchitti in the points race both years. He'll be one of the favorites in Sunday's Grand Prix and is the top contender to end Franchitti's run of three consecutive championships.

When Power's on-track personality does emerge, it's more fiery than funny. TV cameras caught him making obscene gestures at the race control tower in New Hampshire after he wrecked during a late restart on a damp track. After he and Franchitti collided in Toronto, Power blasted his rival as a "dirty" driver and called him a princess on Twitter.

"I was like, 'Really? That was the best you could come up with, Will? …' " Franchitti said. "That's Will."

But Power also shows signs of maturity.

He's long since chopped off the long hair he had as a rookie, and he's shaved the stubble he grew in the offseason. He said he tries to treat people with more respect and that he learned from the angry birds that earned him a $30,000 fine.

"At the end of the day, you are representing a brand and there probably are kids watching as well," Power said. "That is conscious in my mind."

Power still jokes with his brothers and pulls pranks on his competitors. He plays the drums almost every day in his Charlotte basement, and his wife hears him singing at the top of his lungs.

But his thirst for victory made him end another love — skateboarding. He almost bought a new board over the winter, but the risk of threatening his racing career with an injury is too great for him to start up again.

Which is too bad, he says, because the driveway at his new home would make a perfect playground.

Matt Baker can be reached at [email protected]

Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

Friday, March 23, 2012 | ★ ★ ★ ★

ST. PETERSBURG

As his new series and first-year team marketed him as a rising star in front of national reporters and the bright lights of New York, Will Power played with a fart machine. • His wife laughs as she tells the story of Power pulling pranks with then-teammate Oriol Servia at his rookie media day four years ago. The jokes provide a rare glimpse at the off-track quirkiness of one of the IndyCar series' top talents and unknown personalities.

The public sees the two-time series runnerup as a humble 31-year-old with an Australian accent and a competitive drive befitting his unmistakable name. Those in the series know Power as one of their sport's biggest goofballs and wackiest characters.

"He's so focused race weekend that people don't get to see it," said his wife, Liz. "At home and away from the track, he's just a riot."

Power's antics began growing up in Toowoomba, Australia, at a home overrun with creativity. His father, Bob, was an open-wheel driver. His three brothers became a stand-up comedian, a break dancer and (yawn) an accountant.

The quartet shared their father's love of extreme sports and competition. They hopped one, then two, then three 20-liter barrels on their bikes — until one snapped in half. They drove go-carts and tried dirt racing.

Power used his first paycheck from stocking shelves at a warehouse to buy a drum kit. The next ones fed a skateboarding addiction that chewed through two pairs of shoes and a board every month.

"I guess with my parents we were a real handful, no question," Power said.

Power eventually graduated from being pushed around in a plastic car by his brothers to racing the real thing. His spontaneity and sense of humor never changed.

As a Champ Car rookie in 2006, Power let his brother Damien impersonate him at the series' stop in Australia, to laughs from fans and amazement from his future wife. The joke turned on Power months later when his too-good-to-be-true name became a punch line in Damien's stand-up routine.

"He'd give me (a hard time) about my name," Power said.

Power took the jabs in stride and won't take himself too seriously, especially around his brothers. Soon after he proposed to Liz, the couple visited Toowoomba for their first Christmas with Power's full family. The brothers borrowed props from one of Nick's choreographed routines to try break dancing — on stilts.

"It was the craziest thing I had ever seen," Liz Power said. "His poor mother was freaking out. She didn't want them to mess up the carpet."

The break dancing continued at their wedding, much to the surprise of Liz's Texan family and her 90-year-old grandmother.

The public gets peeks of Power's goofy side.

He jammed with a music school band in August to promote the Sonoma race. Cameras caught him sneaking bites of a honey and banana sandwich in the cockpit during a red flag at Brazil. He posed for pictures with a hotel worker in Baltimore wearing Family Guy boxers and a T-shirt that read "Heartthrob."

At media day this month, Power cracked that since Danica Patrick has bolted for NASCAR, he'd love to take her GoDaddy commercials. He deadpanned before correcting himself to say Verizon, which surely pleased the sponsor of his No. 12 Chevrolet.

"He's a funny guy, when you get to know him," driver Graham Rahal said. "Most of the conversations I have with Will, I just spend a lot of my time laughing. I think he'd be a really good ambassador for the sport."

But when Power gets to the track, his comic side disappears. The laser focus honed from battling three brothers takes over.

Since joining juggernaut Team Penske full time in 2010, he has won a series-best 11 races — including the 2010 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg — and finished second to Dario Franchitti in points both years. He'll be one of the favorites in Sunday's Grand Prix and is the top contender to end Franchitti's run of three consecutive championships.

When Power's on-track personality does emerge, it's more fiery than funny. TV cameras caught him making obscene gestures at the race control tower in New Hampshire after he wrecked during a late restart on a damp track. After he and Franchitti collided in Toronto, Power blasted his rival as a "dirty" driver and called him a princess on Twitter.

"I was like, 'Really? That was the best you could come up with, Will? …' " Franchitti said. "That's Will."

But Power also shows signs of maturity.

He has long since chopped off the long hair he had as a rookie, and he has shaved the stubble he grew in the offseason. He said he tries to treat people with more respect and that he learned from the "angry birds" that earned him a $30,000 fine.

"At the end of the day, you are representing a brand and there probably are kids watching as well," Power said. "That is conscious in my mind."

Power still jokes with his brothers and pulls pranks on his competitors. He plays the drums almost every day in his Charlotte basement, and his wife hears him singing at the top of his lungs.

But his thirst for victory made him end another love — skateboarding. He almost bought a new board over the winter, but the risk of threatening his racing career with an injury is too great for him to start up again.

Which is too bad, he says, because the driveway at his new home would make a perfect playground.

Matt Baker can be reached at [email protected]

   
Comments
Winter Olympics: Friday’s viewing schedule

Winter Olympics: Friday’s viewing schedule

TV today5 a.m.-6:30 a.m. Saturday NBCSNSpeed skating (M) – 1,000m final (LIVE)Hockey (M) — Semifinal, Canada vs. Germany (LIVE, 6:30 a.m.)Curling (M) — Bronze-medal match, Canada vs. Switzerland (TAPED, 9:30 a.m.)Curling (W) —...
Updated: 4 minutes ago
Police: DeSean Jackson’s former Eagles teammate drove truck found wrecked with bullets, marijuana inside

Police: DeSean Jackson’s former Eagles teammate drove truck found wrecked with bullets, marijuana inside

TAMPA  — With no witnesses and no video evidence, Tampa police have stopped investigating a case from Christmas Eve that had a truck belonging to Bucs receiver DeSean Jackson found wrecked and abandoned in a mall parking lot with hollow-po...
Updated: 9 minutes ago
Lightning not planning to trade from current roster

Lightning not planning to trade from current roster

You can bet that many Lightning fans hoped Senators superstar defenseman Erik Karlsson jumped on Tampa Bay's bus after Thursday night's 4-3 Lightning win.Karlsson, 27, a two-time Norris Trophy winner, is the biggest prize leading up to Monday's trade...
Updated: 14 minutes ago
Brent Honeywell injury could be worst Rays news yet

Brent Honeywell injury could be worst Rays news yet

PORT CHARLOTTE — It might have seemed that things couldn't get worse for the Rays after an opening week of spring training that included the dumping of two veterans to harshly negative reviews, including from their own players; to the trade of ...
Updated: 15 minutes ago
Bucs QB Jameis Winston uninjured in car wreck

Bucs QB Jameis Winston uninjured in car wreck

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston was not hurt in a car wreck last week in which he was cited for careless driving.Winston, 24, was driving on the Veterans Expressway near Waters Avenue in northwest Tampa on Feb. 13 when his Ford F250 truck rear-ended ...
Updated: 18 minutes ago
Lightning escapes for 4-3 win in Ottawa

Lightning escapes for 4-3 win in Ottawa

OTTAWA – The Lightning was encouraged it escaped Ottawa with a 4-3 win over the Senators on Thursday night.But it was really disappointed about how it had to "hold on to dear life," as defenseman Victor Hedman put it, after taking a three-goal ...
Updated: 26 minutes ago
Boys basketball: Wharton wins a wild one in final seconds

Boys basketball: Wharton wins a wild one in final seconds

TAMPA — Bartow held a one-point lead and time was ticking down — 12, 11, 10 seconds left — when Wharton guard Darin Green pulled up near the foul line and released the ball over a defender's fingers toward the hoop.Swish.Bartow got ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Boys basketball: Postseason experience pays off for St. Petersburg

Boys basketball: Postseason experience pays off for St. Petersburg

PLANT CITY — For the first time in four seasons, St. Petersburg started the playoffs on the road.It was unfamiliar territory for nearly everyone on the team. Serrel Smith was the exception.  The Mississippi signee was a freshman the last t...
Updated: 1 hour ago

High school scoreboard for Feb. 22

Thursday’s scoreboardSoftballBoca Ciega 4, Pinellas Park 2Admiral Farragut 7, Northside Christian 1Boys tennisOsceola 7, Dixie Hollins 0Clearwater Central Cath. 4, Jesuit 3Girls tennisOsceola 7, Dixie Hollins 0Boys basketballClass 3A, region semifina...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Boys basketball: Tampa Bay Tech knocks out Countryside

CLEARWATER — Jamarcus Robertson scored 27 points to lead Tampa Bay Tech to a 89-80 road victory against Countryside in a Class 8A boys basketball region quarterfinal Thursday.Tampa Bay Tech (22-10) will play St. Petersburg on Tuesday....
Updated: 1 hour ago