they come from a land down down under
Consequently, Aussies have targeted
sport as a way to excel and be noticed.
Such an ingrained sporting culture
comes accompanied by an ethos that
proves useful when trying to crack the
glass ceiling that divides the junior
categories from F1 and IndyCar – a grim,
clench-jawed refusal to accept defeat.
Most Aussies would tell you that it reached
an art form in cricket, first with the
legendary Don Bradman in the 1920s and
’30s, and later with Steve Waugh between
the mid-1980s and the mid-2000s. But it’s
also apparent in the resourcefulness that
the likes of Webber and Power have
deployed in order to get them to where
they are. Neither had the benefit of a
proper budget during their formative years.
(left) aussie racecar
drivers are a bit like
boomerangs – they’ll just
keep on coming back.
(rIGht) new Zealand
shares those traits and
produced its own formula
1 world champion in
work ethic. All sports
have examples of
athletes who have become
complacent when they finally
land a big contract, and racing is no
exception. Australian fans expect a lot
from their athletes, and anything less than
100 percent effort is considered an insult
to the national sporting colors of green and
gold. There’s an ugly side to this: Webber
and tennis player Lleyton Hewitt have both
weathered attacks from local journalists
who failed to recognize the sport’s
intricacies. (“If Webber is so good, why is he
only 14th in the F1 points with Jaguar?”).
This is the long explanation of
how Australians have been able to
over-deliver in racing. If you were to ask
Power or Webber for the short version,
it would go something like this: Get
someone to put you into their car. If they
say no, then find a way to make them
say yes. When they finally do, drive the
bloody wheels off the thing.
australia has made international
sporting precociousness its trademark –
few are the countries that don’t play
baseball, but still produce an mlB
all-star. But its smaller cousin to the
east has an equally impressive record.
new york city has twice as many
people as new Zealand; however, the
Kiwis have enjoyed far more success
than a nation of 4. 4 million should have
any right to. having such a small pool to
pick from means that new Zealand has
to be even more selective than
australia in picking its battles, but it is a
powerhouse in international rugby,
cricket, sailing – and motorsports.
It had a formula 1 world champion
in denny hulme in 1967, as well as the
best f1 driver never to win a Grand Prix
in chris amon. It has long been a threat
in touring cars, both in australia
(multiple Bathurst winner Greg murphy)
and in europe (two-time touring car
world cup winner Paul radisich).
young open-wheel talents such as
mark webber’s protégé, mitch evans,
continue to forge a career overseas,
with dreams of following the example
set by two-time Indycar champion and
2008 Indy 500 winner Scott dixon.