No one gets to the top alone.
When looking at the legendary career Will Power has forged in the NTT IndyCar Series, it might well have not happened if not for the assistance of former Formula One driver Mark Webber.
That opportunity of generosity enabled Power to stay the racing course and eventually become the 2014 NTT IndyCar Series champion and 2018 Indianapolis 500 winner. His series accomplishments include 57 poles (second all-time) and 35 victories.
Now, Power takes on the responsibility of paying it forward by offering his experience and guidance to Cameron Shields, who shares the same hometown (Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia).
“My dad still races over there, and he was racing Formula Ford,” Power said. “My dad knows (Cameron’s) dad, but he's just an Australian guy trying to get to IndyCar.
“I always take an interest in (helping others), especially a guy from Toowoomba. He's very good. He's very smart and a very nice-natured guy. It's tough man. It's really, really hard to get a break, get the funding you need to continue and be in the right team at the right time in these junior categories to get the results. It's just a battle, so any way I can help him with contacts or meeting the right people, I try to do.”
The 18-year-old Shields has been impressive while competing this year in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, the first rung of the three-tier INDYCAR-sanctioned development ladder program.
Despite only competing in nine of 11 events, he sits seventh in the overall standings and even snagged a maiden victory for himself and Newman Wachs Racing at Lucas Oil Raceway back in May.
While celebrating in victory lane, Shields received a “very special” congratulatory call via FaceTime from Power.
“My spotter (Charles Crews) was his spotter for that night,” Power said. “So he kept continually updating me during the race and kept looking and like, ‘Man, he's going to win it!' That was perfect timing; he needed that.”
Not bad for Shields considering he started off earlier that same week accompanying Power and sharing in the experience at the White House and the Australian Ambassador’s residence in Washington D.C.
Additionally, this is coming from someone who recalls his 5-year-old self watching someone he thought was named “Bill Power” provide the entertainment on the Gold Coast during the Champ Car days.
Power, who drives the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet for Team Penske, is fully embracing this newfound role as a mentor simply because, “I understand how hard it is. You know, some of these people that have the funding all the way through and have it easy. But, it's just, you understand how you got there and it was people helping you out, and even other drivers, like Mark Webber helped me out. Without that, I'd be back probably maybe racing V8 Supercars or selling canvas (in the family business).”
However, the opportunity for Shields to receive assistance from one of the best to ever drive an Indy car is just part of what makes it the journey so satisfying.
“I think the biggest thing for me, not just his mentorship, but also the fact that he has come from the same town as me,” Shields said. “It's a very small town. He has gone down a very similar pathway to me from this point. He was an incredible driver when he was younger, as he is just now, and I know if I can perform just as well as he does, there's a pathway there for me to make it to IndyCar.
“It's really inspiring knowing that someone who was in a very similar position to me right now, has made it all the way, been an IndyCar champion and Indy 500 winner.”
Power is staying true to his word, and this 2010 story illustrates how he is giving back as promised. Read Jeff Pappone's story in the Globe And Mail.