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postheadericon Doing it his way: sauber red bull’s confidence trickster brook johnston

Doing it His Way: Sauber Red Bull’s Confidence Trickster Brook Johnston

A young Ernest Hemingway couldn’t have put it best when he said he was “fraid o’ nothin.” The 20 year old American Brook Johnston can probably express similar sentiments. Team Sauber Red Bull Racing’s newest addition has not only wowed the likes of the Albert II in Monaco, but has begun to turn the public face from hysteria to utter seriousness. The Sauber Red Bull driver has completely ravaged the streets of Monaco with a tremendous win and has recently taken the German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring pushing him ahead six points further into the championship lead. 

Now we can say that everything wasn’t peachy for the so called “American Racing prodigy,” of which he has begun to be called. Just a few weeks ago the American’s luck began to turn sour as the Sauber Red Bull F2008 BMW chassis spun off the track at Monza’s turn four, turning mere prowess into severity. Spending a total of three days in the Milan’s Azienda Ospedaliera Ospitale Nigurada Ca’ Granda hospital, Johnston endured critical bone fractures to his arms and rib cage as well as undergoing serious head trauma from the accident. At a speed of over 130 miles per hour, silence began to fall upon the American driver’s faded championship hopes. Two weeks later, the Formula BMW International series was in complete awe as Johnston returned to Nurburg, Germany and hoped back into the car without any hesitation. ” I’ve gotten this far why stop now,” Johnston says. ” This is my passion. If you can’t step back into the race car after an accident like that, then your probably in the wrong sport.” With that kind of confidence and pride, it’s no wonder the young American took the win at the German Grand Prix last Sunday. I can definitely say I have never seen fire in the wits of a drivers eyes like that before. 

With that, I think you get the feeling that Brook isn’t the sort of guy who sits there waiting for his turn. Brook likes to go after it! Talking to him isn’t a particularly easy task as well. The Sauber Red Bull driver prefers that he sticks to what he knows. Racing! Even obtaining a simple interview with him was a very difficult chore in itself, constantly turned down by Sauber Red Bull Racing’s public relations. Noticing his avid racing background and very minimal publicity, I might say that Sauber Red Bull has themselves one of the best public relations committees i’ve ever seen. And to think they would keep a young man with this much talent under-wraps and out of the scene. Well not exactly! With much luck and constant boasting, myself and Racer Magazine managed to get a few words in with the championship driver and confidence trickster himself.

Up close and personal, we thought we were talking to the wrong guy! I mean, here he is, the championship leading driver that we have longed to interview, sitting directly in front of us with his trendy Red Bull hat backwards and his stylish sunglasses glaring at us. We were half expecting an over confident attitude and a Hugo Boss suit. What made us think that? Besides the hours upon hours of phone calls into Sauber Red Bull Racing and nature of going about to get this interview, I must say we were completely wrong. Johnston was the type of guy that was extremely down to earth and was probably one of the best driver interviewees I’ve ever had. His calm, bright and very collective personality brought out the Michael Schumacher type of charm inside this young man. After knowing this, we wanted to start off the conversation with a much more interesting subject. We asked the young Sauber Red Bull driver about his clothing and stylish appearance. With a huge smile he laughed right back at us and said, ” Well if you call this trendy then I guess Im on the right track then hugh.” Bravo, indeed you are Brook! 

While he has been racing here on the European tour, his growth and support for himself and the team have been enormous. I mean this was a guy who started as a great driver but relatively unknown, and has been turned into a superstar and ESPN Extreme Athlete of 2008 award winner. What can he say about these achievements? ” Yeah I think I was just as surprised as anybody to be honored with that award. Im just a regular guy who loves to race cars.” I think regular is hardly the word to describe him. More like Superman in a driving suit! After all, Johnston’s nickname is “Tiger.” However, his very real nature and cheerful tone have put this extraordinary young man as the favorite among the Formula BMW International series crowd and has even put him into consideration for much larger forms of auto racing. ” Yes, I will be testing for the Torro Rosso program in August and it has been a wonderful ride to get to this point. I’ve wanted to get to Formula One since I was about 5 years old. I would be stoked (excited) to reach that level and compete.” Could this be America’s next Formula One star? Well I hope so! Red Bull Torro Rosso’s team has announced several names for their program for the 2009 season, yet it will not be clear until late August as to whom makes the cut. 

Well as many of us have wanted to know, what do you think the Formula BMW International series represents for you now going into something as prestigious as Formula One? What does it mean to get to that playing field? ” The International series has been one of the greatest experiences ever for me. What could be better than traveling to world famous tracks and getting to race on them. Our series is known to be a huge stepping stone to Formula One, but I think we all know F1 is on a completely different level in comparison to anything. It will take some adjusting for me, but I will just have to get out there and show them what I got.” Confidence indeed, the wise words of a championship leading driver! Johnston’s presence in the series has formulated some 45,000 participants or so throughout the European crowds, while he battles his way towards the top mark. 

So focused and so adept to his participation on the track, what is Brook like off the track? Sauber Red Bull Racing has concentrated the young drivers efforts towards public events of charitable presence and to bring forth a rise in the youth involvement in motorsports. “ Yeah we (Sauber Red Bull Racing) just went to the Jugendlich Partei in Berlin which was a ton of fun and supported Germany’s Teen Cancer Foundation. I felt great to make those kids smile and see them having fun. I think I made a difference to them and that’s what’s important.” With a heart of gold and smile on his face, Johnston helped out in charitable presence at Berlin’s premier teen dance event with over 3,000 teenagers in attendance and guest appearance by country pop singer Taylor Swift, actor David Hasselhoff, and Championship Formula One driver Michael Schumacher. Johnston not only made just an appearance at the event, but we asked him if there was anything special he contributed to that night. He laughs, “ Well, everyone’s (VIPS) names were entered in a hat and picked at random to be in a dance contest against each other. I had to go against Taylor. Of course she won! (He chuckles) She is a much better dancer than I am, but what do you expect. I was just glad to be involved.” Johnston’s laughter and smile at the question only made us pry even deeper. So we asked, what do you think about being on stage with Taylor Swift? With a calm and collective face Brook replied, “ Yeah it was great, she is a very sweet girl and was a ton of fun to talk to. I think we were both having fun and happy to help support the foundation.” Well not exactly the Romeo and Juliet answer we were looking for, but the couple did look a little too good together on stage. Or so we thought at least! Johnston has been known to catch the younger girls eyes, as he has done several interviews for young rising star and teenage magazines. “ I am just glad to help out and spread my confidence to other teens whether it be in auto racing or any other sport.” So modest! Well, we can’t say that he was going to give us the mushy gushy answers we always hope for, but the smart and talented Johnston does have a very activity based personal life and enjoys the beach environment. Long walks on the sand ladies?

Well surely everyone was interested in his outside life, but what about his driving style and how he performs the way he does on the track? Who is Brook’s favorite driver of all time? Non other than legend and seven time championship winning Formula One driver Michael Schumacher. Now we know where he gets that smile and charm. ” I would say that Schumi has been a big inspiration to me on and off the track. I used to watch him with my dad growing up and when I finally saw him race in Indianapolis I knew he was unbeatable. And thats what I aspire to be.” So does Johnston race like Schumacher on the track? He laughs, ” Not exactly, I try to be my own person and I like my own style of racing. Schumi is amazing, but he has merely been my influence in racing. My talent lies in my fearlessness. You can’t be fearful or else you will never push the car to the edge and that’s what it takes to be a winner.” Brook Johnston’s confidence is right among those of Ernest Hemingway and the great Michael Schumacher. He will be racing in Brasil’s Rio de Janeiro region for Round 8 of the Formula BMW International series next, and will be heading to several events and charities over his bye week period over the coming week. With great talent and motive, the young American is doing it his way and will be followed as a ro-model to many throughout auto racing.  

We would like to thank Sauber Red Bull Racing and Brook Johnston for the opportunity to interview and get inside with the Formula BMW International series.

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