BRISTOL, Tenn. — As he returns to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Bristol this weekend, Brian Vickers is carrying baggage.
While racing for Red Bull in the Sprint Cup Series, his last full-time job as a driver, Vickers adopted what he calls “the Red Bull lifestyle.” As Vickers tries to return to NASCAR’s top series on a more permanent basis, however, the edgy image Red Bull sought to promote may be a drawback where other potential sponsors are concerned.
Reinforcing the public perception of the 28-year-old driver was a story published in Maxim magazine in early 2011 detailing Vickers’ allegedly relentless pursuit of women and booze. Vickers now says that most of what appeared in print was patently false.
“Well, that was completely a lie anyway,” Vickers said before Sprint Cup practice Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway. “I could have sued them if I really wanted to. I chose not to because I think it was only going to drag the experience out, but I had three witnesses for that interview, and every one of them would attest in court that most, if not all, of that article was completely made up. It wasn’t even . . . some of it was exaggerated. Most of it was just blatant lies.
“The quotes weren’t even real quotes. I think he (writer Mike Guy) said something at one time in the article about scotch on the rocks, and I’ve never drank scotch in my life — ever. I have no idea where that came from. He just made it up. I think he thought it made the article sound good, so he ran with it.”
Vickers is representing Aaron’s this weekend in the first race of a six-event deal with Michael Waltrip Racing. To Red Bull, Vickers said it was important that he sky dive, scuba dive and swim with sharks. Aaron’s, on the other hand, isn’t looking for a daredevil.
Though Vickers enjoys scuba and sky diving, he says many of those activities were at Red Bull’s request.
“I did it for a reason at the time, and Red Bull really pushed it, and it was what they wanted,” Vickers said. “I guarantee if you ask any driver in this garage, ‘Have they ever done something they didn’t want to do for a sponsor because it’s what they wanted?’ (They would say) ‘Of course.’ I would say most guys in this garage.
“It’s what our sport is built on — sponsorship. The teams can’t survive without it, and you can’t get to the racetrack without it, so what Red Bull wanted and what Aaron’s wants and what another one wants is just all different.”