Shining a spotlight on celebrities and athletes who love to travel. Created and developed by Stacy Steponate Greenberg.
The road from auto racing to wine making is definitely one less traveled, a journey very few individuals would ever conceive of. For legendary racer Scott Pruett, however, the transition has been seamless. Pruett’s passion began when he was eight years old, racing go karts, which eventually led to his winning ten professional karting championships. From there he was off and could not be stopped, conquering the racing world in a career of over fifty years. Pruett competed in a multitude of series, including NASCAR, CART, IMSA, Trans-Am and Grand-Am. In 2017, he was named to the Motorsports Hall Of Fame of America. In 2006, Pruett made an unusual pit stop in California: opening his own vineyard, which has been producing wine that has received rave reviews. The Overhead Compartment was thrilled to catch a ride with the legend Scott Pruett and find out about his life in the fast lane, the grape game and a whole lot more.
The Overhead Compartment with Scott Pruett begins now….
OC: You spent more than 50 years racing, when did you first know this was the life you wanted?
SP: I began racing when I was eight years old and I’ve done it every year since. I love this sport and everything about it. It wasn’t necessarily a conscious decision to do it, because it was never a conscious decision to NOT do it.
OC: How do you mentally and physically prepare for a race? Being a professional athlete requires discipline on every level.
SP: Physical training is part of the daily schedule, nutrition and health are obviously important, and a great deal of mental focus and clarity is required. Bottom line is I train to be at peak performance at all times.
OC: How did you emotionally handle the danger that comes with the sport?
SP: There’s only way: Don’t think about it.
OC: If you were not a race car driver, what would you have done?
SP: I’m very patriotic, I love this country, so I could have seen myself joining the military…possibly as a fighter pilot.
OC: You’re a household name among race fans, what’s the most common question fans ask when they meet you?
SP: What’s your favorite track or what’s your favorite win. Unless it’s kids and they like to ask what do you do if you have to go to the bathroom during a race.
OC: And what do you tell those kids?
SP: First I laugh!! Then I say “in my suit of course!” Then I say “Actually because it’s so hot in the cars, up to 120 degrees, I sweat it out!”
OC: Your wine business was started in your garage and now is a top producing winery, Pruett Vineyard, making ultra-premium wine. Where did that passion come from?
SP: I grew up farming with my Grandfather and have always loved working with my hands and the earth. This business, and racing, has been my yin and yang and therefore therapeutic. Racing takes place in fractions of a second, wine happens in vintages. It requires a whole new level of patience. And when you get it right, with racing or wine, it’s awesome.
OC: You and your wife Judy also write children’s books about racing. What do you hope kids will learn from the books?
SP: We very intentionally made the books as inclusive as possible and authentic to racing. By that, I mean we included many different elements of racing (beyond the driver and the cars) to show just how much goes into the sport and the ultimate team mentality. We also wanted the books to be authentic, so anything in the books, from the verbiage to the action and elements, is true.
OC: What’s a typical day in the life of a professional race-car driver?
SP: I don’t know if there is such a thing as a “typical day” for a race-car driver, but for me, everyday is about being the best you can be. Whether it’s working out, reviewing data from the previous race and preparing for the next one, sponsor obligations, charity work, and of course spending time with my family whenever possible.
OC: How have you seen auto racing change from when you first began?
SP: The biggest change that I have seen in my fifty years of racing is safety. Safety for the drivers, the crews, and the fans. And the cool thing is, this improved safety ultimately carries through to the cars people are driving on the streets every day.
OC: You’ve traveled all over racing, what are your top three favorite tracks?
SP: Daytona, Indianapolis, Watkins Glen…although I could keep on going. There really isn’t a track that I don’t like. And in 50 years of racing, I’ve had wonderful and also horrific experiences, at almost all of them!
OC: Which town has the most passionate race fans?
SP: That’s a tough one too, race fans are passionate around the world.
OC: What is the first thing you do when arriving in a hotel room?
SP: Check the wifi connection. I’ve been staying in hotels for so long, it just feels like a second home.
OC: Complete the following sentence: I never leave home without:
SP: My wedding ring.
Scott Pruett, please use care upon departure as items may have shifted in The Overhead Compartment during our journey. Thanks for choosing us for your travel tips! Have a wonderful day!