Vickers, a self-described avid reader, lists The Count of Monte Cristo as his favorite book, and his description of the novel's lead character lends insight into Vickers himself.
"I just think the story is absolutely amazing, when you read the whole thing through," he says of the book's 1,100-plus pages.
"[The Count] is a lot like me and my personality," he continues. "Throughout the book, he experienced a lot of different things. He traveled a lot. Without getting into a lot of details, there were a lot of things that happen to him that have happened to me in my life. The way he treats people is the way I treat people. He treats people with respect, but he treats people the way they treat him. He's very loyal, very, very loyal and honest to his friends and his family. But people who don't respect him or backstab him or whatever get it pretty hard. You know, watch your back or it's going to come around."
It all came back around on Brian's father, Clyde, a few years ago. Brian, the son Clyde had raised to be independent and able to take responsibility, decided it was time to move out of the Vickers home and get a place on his own. He was only 17.
When Brian told his dad, it was evident that Clyde was not ready for the move. Recalls Brian, "He was like, 'Whoa, whoa, whoa, settle down. I know I want you to be independent and do your own thing, but I didn't think you were actually going to leave me.' "
By then it was obvious that lessons learned in life, in the classroom, on the track, and by his parents' side had taken root in Brian Vickers. Now, at the ripe old age of 20, he's still on his own, still soaking it all in, still focused on the life he spent 10 short years striving to build. Ironically, Vickers' path took him to Hendrick Motorsports, where another racing prodigy landed last year.
The Kid Brother
Kyle Busch spent his youth around race cars. He turned wrenches and learned all he could about Legends and Dwarf cars driven by his brother Kurt, who is 611/42 years older. Tom Busch built a homemade go-kart for his sons when Kyle was seven. Because they had to share the kart, a stopwatch and a bank parking lot near their home in Las Vegas became the tools of competition between the Busch brothers.
When Kurt began racing Dwarf cars at age 1511/42, Kyle was relegated to toiling in Kurt's shadow. He turned wrenches and learned, never turning a competitive lap until he was 13, in 1998. In that first race, Kyle qualified fourth but was sent to the back of the pack when track officials realized this 13-year-old had never driven in a race. So from dead last, 22nd, he worked his way to a finish of tenth. His first win came less than a year later, on March 27, 1999, in his sixth Legends race.
Still, though, it was older brother Kurt getting all the attention, advancing through the ranks to the Southwest Tour, the Craftsman Truck Series, and the Winston Cup Series, where he's now won eight races in three seasons as driver of Roush Racing's No. 97 Ford.
But, soon, people began to notice the younger Busch brother. By age 16-just three years after entering his first race-Kyle received a tryout with Roush Racing. Roush's "Gong Show" tryout program brought Kyle and 14 other drivers to Toledo Speedway. He was second quickest on the half-mile oval, just behind Johnny Sauter. The group was then pared to five drivers who were tested at Chicagoland's 1.5-mile track. Greg Biffle set the pace early, but Busch beat his time by three-tenths of a second and finished the tryout as the fastest driver in the line-up.