Some racers achieve incredible results in their careers, such as Will Power’s Indy 500 win, two IndyCar titles, and his record for most pole positions in American open-wheel racing history. But how did he make it to the ‘big-time’? How does a kid from Toowoomba make it to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway?
Will Power was born into a racing family. One of four brothers from Queensland, Australia, who grew up watching Prost vs. Senna on TV. Will’s father Bob Power ran a canvas business that produced tents and car covers. Through hard work, the family had enough money to go racing. Will started in go-karts at age 8, while Bob competed in Formula Ford open-wheel cars.
Young Power made the jump from karts to cars at the age of 14, behind the wheel of a family-owned a Datsun 1200, Power competed in club races at Morgan Park Raceway and Carnel Raceway for fun, while working as a forklift driver, later working in his father’s business too.
Will impressed many with his driving ability, and at age 16 was given a test-drive in a Formula Ford at Lakeside Raceway near Brisbane.
Will moved up from saloon cars on the short track to Formula Ford in 1997, and put on great racing performances despite being hamstrung with outdated equipment. Driving the Power family’s 1992 model Swift SC92F in the Queensland Formula Ford Championship, Will beat a host of drivers who went on to carve long professional careers.
By 18, Will was competing in domestic Australian racing circuits, improving his racecraft every weekend, learning how to find that sweet spot between productive aggression and wasteful impatience.
By 1999, Power began competing in national level events. At Queensland Raceway, while still behind the wheel of the old Swift, Power finishing the weekend P5, a highlight in his partial season. But in 2000, Power ran a full season in Queensland Formula Ford, earning his his first championship title in the Swift, while simultaneously racing a late-model Spectrum 07 on the Australian Formula Ford Championship, finishing a promising seventh.
Still racing in the family-run team, in 2001 Power upgraded to a Stealth RF95, a modified 1995 Van Diemen. Power battled for the championship against factory-supported Van Diemen driver Will Davison, in what the media called ‘The Battle Of The Wills’. The remarkable season saw privateer Power win the first two rounds before the Valvoline-backed Davison took over the points lead later in the season, and won the title. Their slipstreaming and wheel-to-wheel battles throughout the year highlight all the positives about open-wheel racing.
Power raced three years in Formula Ford before moving to Europe, getting a test in a Minardi Formula 1 car, then eventually landing stateside where With an Indy 500 win, two IndyCar Series championships, and the outright record for most pole positions, Power has fully entrenched himself into the mythology as one of the greatest IndyCar racers of all time. But it all started in a used, family-run junior level open-wheel series like Formula Ford.
- Wikipedia: Will Power
- Will Power: The Early Years
- From the Darling Downs to the Brickyard
- The Battle of the Wills Still Resonates
- Will Power on Formula Ford