Richard Childress Racing welcomes Earl Bamber to its NASCAR Xfinity Series program this weekend as the New Zealand native and road course racing veteran is scheduled to make his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut behind the wheel of the No. 21 KCMG Chevrolet. Although new to NASCAR, the road racing ace has competed at the 3.56-mile Daytona Road Course seven times, earning four podium finishes in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Series. We sat down with the Kiwi to learn more about him on and off the track.
- Why are people from New Zealand called Kiwis? “That’s actually a good one. It comes from our bird. We’ve got the Kiwi bird, which is a flightless bird down there. We’ve all sort of got these nicknames when we drive. Kiwis are also quite well known around the world in motor racing. We hold a pretty good pedigree in all flights of racing in America. Probably one of the most famous guys is Scott Dixon. We’re from such a small country, but we’ve managed to get so many great race car drivers.”
- What is something we do here in America, that is a bit of a cultural shock? “To be honest, I grew up in a bit of an American culture. When I was a kid, we used to always have a lot of American people come through our ranch in New Zealand. I actually sort of grew up with American people, so when I got here, I loved it. In terms of a culture shock, I would probably say beer drinking. You guys drink a lot of beer, right? They always say Germans drink a lot of beer, but you guys drink a lot of beer. Any kind of sporting events or going down to the bar. Yeah. You guys drink a lot of beer.”
- What is your favorite pre-race meal? “Actually, I normally go with just an espresso. I know from my training that I can’t eat anything dairy. So, I stay away from milk or anything like that in the morning. I normally just go with toast. Recently with the coronavirus, I’ve just been eating a sandwich and a bit of pasta.”
- What is the proudest moment in your career so far? “My proudest motor racing moment so far for me is winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans. That is the equivalent to winning the Daytona 500 for you guys in the NASCAR world. It is our biggest race of the year. We work 365 days a year to win that race and to go 24 hours. First time out, we were in a rookie car and we weren’t supposed to win, but we just went out and did it. That was an amazingly proud moment and a moment I’ll never forget in my life. When I look back at those videos and images of it, I still get goosebumps, so that was proud moment.”
- Who is your all-time favorite NASCAR driver? “I’m going to have to go with ‘The Intimidator’. I loved watching Dale Earnhardt growing up. I loved how he would race aggressively, how he would also put the bumper to people, and he would just tell it how it is. He was pretty amazing, so he would definitely be my all-time favorite.