Interview With Will “The Thrill” Owen

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Photo from owenracing.com

IRR held its own media day on Fat Tuesday, focusing on the all important future of the sport with a young star of tomorrow. Nineteen year old Will Owen drives the number 23 American Medical Response car in IndyCar’s Pro Mazda feeder series, merely a few rungs away from the big time.

Right at the start of our delightful interview we asked him if he intends to race in the Indianapolis 500 one day. Without hesitation Will said, “Absolutely. My goal is IndyCar and the Indy 500. I attended the race the first time last year and what a spectacle. Three hundred thousand people, it was awesome. It’s a great tradition for the city.”

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Photo from Indy Race Reviewer

Will’s from Castle Rock, Colorado and is an intelligent young racer who we liked immediately. Turns out, Will’s quite the pill. It wasn’t just that he’s well spoken, polite and talented that won us over, but hilariously the underclassman nearly forgot about geology lab Tuesday afternoon. Recalling those foggy, fun college days and knowing how expensive an education is today, we happily postponed the interview until the lab session was complete.

There are numerous reasons to root for Will – he’s an American, he’s quick and he’s a genuinely nice guy. Tellingly his favorite television show is “Top Gear,” and although fit he does allow himself the occasional trip to Whattaburger. He also loves the Broncos and Peyton Manning.

Above all else in his particular field, Will’s a winner. In 2013, Will won three races in Formula Mazda to go along with an impressive eight podiums. Last year he raced in USF2000 and won an amazing race at Indianapolis in his inaugural campaign, going from last to first. We asked him what it was like to win his first USF2000 race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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Photo from facebook.com/williamowenracing

“It was a whirlwind, crazy. The weather was a big factor. We practiced and were in the top ten in the dry, then it rained during qualifying and I ended up starting fourteenth. Somebody hit me in the first corner, spinning me out and dropping me to last place. It stopped raining in the second half of the race and my team told me to pit for slicks. The track was still wet and I thought, ‘You’re crazy,’ but I did what they told me. The difference between the rain tires and slicks is tremendous. In dry conditions, the rain tires lose all grip. When I first went out on the slicks, it was awful. I could hardly keep it straight and was in dead last.”

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Photo from williamowenracing.com

“The track dried and I made cautious passes, at first passing a car or two a lap. Then two thirds through the race I was passing two cars at a time, all over the race track. I knew I could win and stayed calm but aggressive. I was so surprised to be at the front. My team Pabst Racing made such a good call. It was an incredible day. A win like that – that taste of victory – so early on in my career, it  makes me want to work harder.”

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Photo from williamowenracing.com

A real racer, Will was welcomed to Texas with a speeding ticket from a Sheriff’s deputy appropriately enough. He spent Tuesday night in Fort Worth building a race simulator with his buddies, calling it “a cost effective way to practice.” Will plans to study Business and Finance at Texas Christian University where he’s a freshman. “I love school and I love TCU,” he said while admitting he sometimes misses Colorado.  We asked if he’d been to any good keggers lately, and like any fine collegiate he indicated he had. Apparently at TCU it pays to have friends in a fraternity. Go Hornfrogs!

Will leads a charmed life as student, race car driver and man about the country. “I love traveling. My favorite track is Road America. You roll so much speed, and it’s so beautiful in Wisconsin.” Not coincidentally he won a Formula Mazda race there, as well. Will attributes his racing success to his dad, “we work together on everything,” and to his time with Moses Smith Racing and Texas Motorsports. “It was a great experience, a great time. I learned a lot,” he said of his formative racing training.

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Photo from williamowenracing.com

Will grew up watching racing on television and as he says his “Dad’s a car guy,” but he didn’t begin racing until he was fifteen years old – a late start for most racers. “Starting older, I had to catch up,” as he put it. Catch up he did. In just two seasons in two different Mazda Road to Indy series, Will The Thrill’s already racked up an impressive four wins. Certainly he has the potential for many more.

We asked about the upcoming 2015 season which begins this weekend at NOLA and his confidence and passion for the sport became apparent. “Testing has gone well. It’s hard work if you want to win.” He’s raced NOLA before, though not the new configuration, saying “I don’t expect to win, but for the first time ever I believe I can win. We’re going to win races this season. Juncos Racing is an amazing, passionate team.”

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An interesting way to attract fans, Will held a social media competition to help decide which livery to go on his car this season. IRR’s choice didn’t win – number three did –  but it’s still a sharp looking car. We noticed Will’s sponsor AMR has a caduceus in its logo and asked him what it’s like being the only car in racing with a snake on it. “I like how the car turned out. It looks so cool.” He’s grateful for the support and said his dad works at AMR, pointing out that they used to sponsor a Dale Coyne Champ Car in 2003-04.

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Photo from facebook.com/williamowenracing

Will’s Twitter profile reads “The perks of being responsible,” which he explained is an inside joke with his friends about his past good behavior paying off. Will was a sport right to the end of our time together and naively agreed to answer our off the wall exit questions. We began asking his preference between Giselle Bundchen and Kate Upton. After doing some “in depth, side by side” research, he indicated Ms. Upton was his hands down choice.

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Our questions only got worse. Who would win in a fight – Kurt Busch or the TCU softball team? “I’d have to go with TCU and the softball team,” he said. What do you think of Chevy’s aero kit? “I saw the video and it was . . . interesting. The strange do-dads I’m not sure about. I was hoping they’d make the cars look pretty.” There are many reasons to like Will.

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No doubt Will Owen is a name you’ll be hearing a lot more of in the future. Having interviewed him, he’s made new fans of us and we’ll be closely following his career up the IndyCar ladder. With a future that’s limitless, we have no doubt Will Owen will succeed in reaching his goal of IndyCar racing if that’s what he ultimately wants. We’d love to see more outstanding young racers like Will come along and wish him success in his many endeavors. Will The Thrill’s going places, starting this weekend in Louisiana.

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2 thoughts on “Interview With Will “The Thrill” Owen

  1. Pingback: IndyCar News Week in Review: Keep the Change Edition | Indy Race Reviewer: Fast & Funniness

  2. Pingback: IndyCar News Week in Review: ‘Flicks’ Edition | Indy Race Reviewer: Fast & Funniness

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