“For those of you hoping to hear stories about racing, you will be disappointed. I am going to talk about gardening,” is a rather inauspicious start to three quarters of an hour with one of the top drivers in history. To Ickx, however, it’s a logical place to start. When he reached driving age at 16 his goal was to become a gardener or a gamekeeper, not a racing driver. With the gift of a motorcycle from his parents, Ickx’ path changed rapidly. Beginning in motorcycle trials, Ickx moved on rapidly to four wheels, and ascended quickly to the top levels. Not just Mr. LeMans, Ickx competed in 13 seasons of Formula 1, pranked valets, won the Paris-Dakar, Bathurst, and other races almost too numerous to mention.
With a deeply self-deprecating sense of humor, a quick wit, and surprising modesty, the man epitomizes Big Ickx Energy. To Ickx, his success in motorsport didn’t predominantly come from his own skill, but thanks to the stars aligning in everything that surrounded him, which “isn’t humility, it’s just being realistic.” Having the right tools and team at the right time brought him success more than his own efforts.
For the duration of the interview Mike Spinelli is quite obviously awed in the presence of a legend, and I fully empathize. Even several steps removed from the event, watching the interview on an iPad I was a bit starstruck by the openness and honesty of one of my motorsports heroes.
Grab your coffee and settle in. Even with 45 minutes at hand, Mr. Ickx has a lot of ground to cover in a relatively short time.