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Arie Luyendyk Jr. exclusive interview

SST driver Arie Luyendyk Jr.
SST driver Arie Luyendyk Jr.
KS

Arie Luyendyk Jr. shot to the top spot of America's (and Canada's) sweetheart list and literally stole millions of hearts after recently appearing on "The Bachelorette." But in the racing world, he's known as a powerful and genius racer who has successfully battled in the Indianapolis 500, Indy Lights, and IndyCar. Go, Arie!

Next up? Luyendyk is racing trucks in Robby Gordon's thrilling new Stadium Super Trucks series. The racing champ took a time out to talk about everything from the secret to racing trucks 30 feet in the air (yes, fact)...to whether or not he'd date a fellow racer...to what racing life is like behind-the-scenes.

MM: Do you have a pre-race routine or superstitions?
Arie Luyendyk Jr.: I’m not really a superstitious person. The track is hectic with fans and sponsors, so I get alone time before the race - maybe 15 minutes - to think about the race and what I’m going to do.

MM: Being a race car driver sounds glamorous, but what actually goes on behind the scenes?
AL: The time in the car is really cool, but racing is so much work. I’m a salesman first and race car driver second. Racing is a huge business. On the business side, you have to market yourself, take care of sponsors, put the budget together.

MM: How do you prepare for racing trucks - sometimes 30 feet in the air? Madness.
AL: It’s a transition. With IndyCar, you can go through the corner and get faster and faster and build up to it. With trucks, you’re either going to make the jump or not. It’s not going as fast as you can and them jumping. It's very technical to make sure the truck lands properly. You have to get used to being 30 feet in the air. I’ve definitely crashed a few times [laughs]. It’s 100% aggression.

MM: What’s the difference between racing cars and trucks?
AL: There are things I take from racing a car that I apply to trucks. I’ve done a complete career 180. Before with the cars, I was used to a big race track. Now I’m racing in stadiums, with dirt and jumps. Our events are pretty short – 20 laps. In IndyCar days, it was 2 hours with pit stops.

The SST series is growing and I’m happy to be a part of it from the ground up. It’s getting more fans. I’m turning Team Arie fans into race car fans [laughs]. Racing isn't a sport that translates well on TV, but every person I've taken to a race has loved it. Going to a race is a great experience. I’m back to doing what I love and I want to get on the podium.

MM: Would you date an SST driver?
AL: There aren’t any female SST drivers right now. I’ve never dated a female race car driver. If she was cute like Danica [Patrick] then yeah [laughs].

MM: Your father is a legendary race car driver. What’s the best thing your father has taught you about racing?
AL: He’s very cool and supportive. In racing and in life, he’s always said you’re going to lose more than you’re going to win. Take failures in stride and be patient and believe in yourself otherwise no one will.

MM: Does regular driving make you nuts?
AL: I drive pretty slow on the road. I get all my aggression out on the race. If I haven’t raced in a while, I get aggressive [laughs]. Otherwise, I drive like a Grandpa. I’m not the traffic menace people think I am.

MM: What’s your goal with SST?
AL: You have qualifyings, heat, and main race. I won a heat race against 2 of the fastest guys. That was cool. As a personal goal, I want to get on the podium and get my first win. The field is full of talented and brave guys. It was risky trying this, but I'm at a point in my career where I wanted to try it and I hope to continue the upward momentum. I'm stoked.

MM: Are you thinking Indy next year?
AL: I still have that dream. I’d love to do that next year.

MM: The racing industry is unbelievably cutthroat. What makes you such a successful racer?
AL: When it comes to racing, you either have it or you don’t. I’ve been lucky in my career. If you’re a good racer, you can win at anything. I look up to guys like Robby Gordon, he’s a great all around driver. That’s what I aspire to.

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