“Australia, Australia, Australia, God love her!”
Ever since I was knee high to a grasshopper I loved most things that came from Australia.
I was and still am a big Bee Gees fan. Olivia Newton John was my most favorite singer of my entire childhood thanks to her plum roles in “Grease” and “Xanadu” and her many hit albums.
As I grew older Mel Gibson (before his drunken anti-Semitic tirades, walking out on his wife, and allegedly beating his girlfriend) was “all that and a bag of chips”. C’mon, “Lethal Weapon” and “The Patriot,” “Mad Max” and “Gallipoli,” “Braveheart” and “Pocahontas!”
Air Supply’s music is sublime and don’t even try arguing because you know if you heard just one of their many hits you’d be singing to it longingly!
I always thought Australian tennis star Patrick Rafter was not only adorable but such a gentleman when he’d shout, “Sorry, mate” after doing his ball toss for a serve and calling it off at the last moment.
Now I am partial to Geoffrey Rush, Baz Luhrmann, Nicole Kidman (sorta), and Keith Urban.
My admiration and adoration of all things Australian does not stop at entertainment. It carries over into my love of racing, too.
Although I have never been a huge Izod IndyCar fan, the circuit’s races have worked their way into my television over the last several years.
Instantly I became a fan of Will Power.
First, the name is absolutely perfect. “With sheer will power, Will Power hopes to bring home the championship in 2012.” Is there anything better than that? That’s my quote by the way.
Secondly, the man can drive. Dario Franchitti is certainly an impressive driver with three IndyCar championships, but Power is breathing down his neck waiting to strike.
To finish second to Franchitti twice must be a hard tonic to swallow – and the only way to fix that is to beat him in 2012.
Power drives for Team Penske and has since 2009 when he took over for Helio Castroneves, who was facing federal tax evasion charges. Shortly after Power occupied the cockpit Castroneves returned to his ride and Penske was prepared with another car for Power.
Power’s 2009 season was going quite well when an accident led to injuries that took him out of contention for the rest of the year.
In 2010, back to peak performance, Power had a full-time commitment with Team Penske and won the first two races of the season. Power had an impressive five wins in 2010 and a record eight poles that year.
With all the accolades bestowed on Power in 2010, including winning from the pole at Watkins Glen and earning Roger Penske his first Izod IndyCar Series win at the historic track, as well as winning the inaugural Mario Andretti Trophy as the road course champion for the 2010 IndyCar Series season, Power could not capture the championship.
Six wins in the 2011 Izod IndyCar Series was not enough to win that year’s championship either. A string of events led to an irate Power giving a two-finger salute to IndyCar Director of Competition Brian Barnhart. Fines resulted, then some more bad luck on the track, and finally a season-ending crash that took the life of fellow driver Dan Wheldon all culminated in Power, once again, losing the championship to Franchitti.
Power is talented, passionate, a bit rough around the edges, and brash. Surely he is hungry to bring home that IndyCar championship that has eluded him to date.
Like NASCAR, where Jimmie Johnson’s stranglehold on the NASCAR Sprint Cup for five consecutive seasons made many drivers into underdogs, Power’s bridesmaid finishes in the last two seasons to Franchitti’s bride, makes him a focused underdog.
And, as an American, I love rooting for the underdog. Besides, I have to go back to his awesome name, Will Power.
I really want to see Will Power’s “will power” get him the coveted IndyCar championship.
In NASCAR I am enamored with Marcos Ambrose.
Ambrose came to America to pursue his dream to drive in NASCAR after winning two consecutive Australian V8 Supercar championships in 2003 and 2004.
By 2006 Ambrose was in America running in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, driving a Ford for JTG Daugherty Racing.
The following year Ambrose stayed with JTG Daugherty but was in the NASCAR Nationwide Series driving the No. 59 Kingsford Charcoal Ford Fusion.
The legendary Wood Brothers Racing brought Ambrose into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Later he had a ride with Michael Waltrip Racing.
A move to Richard Petty Motorsports in 2011 brought positive change and resulted in an Ambrose victory at Watkins Glen. He made history as the first Australian to win there.
Ambrose is closing in on winning at ovals, too. He posted decent finishes, resulting in 12 top-fives and 25 top-10s since arriving in Cup, Ambrose is getting closer to Victory Lane outside of the road course venues.
His recent Cup appearance in Phoenix for the Subway Fresh Fit 500 had Ambrose solidly in third very late in the race until an unfortunate engine failure dropped him to 32nd to end his day.
I love my country, the drivers who represent my country and all of NASCAR, but I must admit I want to see Power and Ambrose succeed.
My love of Australia has no basis in actual ties, but I’m drawn to the continent and feel a kinship with its people.
Besides, these Aussies are fun to watch. And maybe, just maybe, the time will come when Olivia Newton John will sing at their championship banquets.