The British are coming to NASCAR, and driver John Mickel is leading the charge.
Mickel is hoping to race at least 10 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races in the 2010 season, with his eye on a full-time Truck ride for 2011.
Mickel's team, Torquespeed.com, will be the first British-owned, -led and -driven team to participate in the NASCAR Truck Series this year.
In addition to Mickel, the team is owned by British businessmen and NASCAR enthusiasts Steve Dudman and Asa Burrows.
Mickel is leading the British invasion of NASCAR, fresh off his win in the American Speed Association's Inaugural Transcontinental Race, the Freestate 500 in Welkom, South Africa.
"After we come back from South Africa, we got a lot of positive feedback from people and sponsors on board," Mickel said. "We are just in the negotiation stages of what NASCAR races we can do this year. Hopefully we can put all these things together and get back on the track where we belong."
Mickel is no stranger to NASCAR Truck Series racing. In fact, the driver raced for both the late Bobby Hamilton Sr. and Bobby Dotter of Greenlight Racing (GLR) in 2006 and 2007.
"We have some trucks that we have in storage that we raced before," Mickel said. "What we do need is to get them out and get some good on-track performance."
"We need to get out there and do two or three races and hopefully get top-tens and top-fifteens; whatever we can get and the highest we can get," Mickel continued. "That helps for this year and 2011."
In addition to his planned British invasion of NASCAR, Mickel is keeping busy by competing on his side of the pond in the CPC Legend Cars Series, where he is running for the UK Championship.
Just like Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon in the NASCAR Cup Series, Mickel is attempting his own "Drive for Five," having won four Legend Car championships already in his career.
"The Legend cars are just like the ones in the US," Mickel said. "In fact, my cars come from 600 Racing in Concord, N.C."
Mickel admits that racing both the Legends cars and the Trucks involve two very different skill sets. "It is like night and day to be fair," Mickel said of the differences between the two race vehicles.
"You've got a little Legends car which is very snappy in its response and the truck, which is big and bulky," Mickel said. "So they are very different, indeed, but I am pretty quick to adapt."
Mickel admits that his life will certainly be hectic, racing two series and commuting across the pond. "It's going to be a busy year with both the Legends and NASCAR racing," Mickel said. "I should earn some airmiles for sure!"
As if Mickel did not have enough going on in his life, he has also committed to running the elite Virgin London Marathon on April 25. He will be running with Team Rhys Daniels Trust to raise money to help "take the checker" against childhood illness.
Mickel is very passionate about the Rhys Daniels Trust, which helps provide a "home away from home" for children who are diagnosed with life threatening illnesses and their families.
"The trauma of having a child diagnosed with a life-threatening illness is shattering," Mickel said. "Imagine then the added stress that these families face because their child needs to be treated many miles away from home."
"It could happen to anyone, and it is happening all the time to many families across the UK,” Mickel continued. “The aim of the Rhys Daniels Trust is to provide ‘Home from Home’ care in support of specialist Children’s Hospitals across the UK as a perfect environment for the sick child and their families at such a stressful time."
"My team is very excited to be able to help this amazing cause," Mickel said. "It’s the most rewarding finish line I could ever cross, as we run past Buckingham Palace to the Mall at the end.”
"I'll do anything to help someone else," Mickel continued. "I've been training very hard and yes, we're going to do it. Running six or seven miles is nothing compared to what these families go through."
As committed as he is to racing, as well as helping children and families, Mickel is deeply committed to his own family.
"I'm married and have two children," Mickel said. "It puts life back in perspective when you come home and have fun with the children."
While Mickel is not ready yet to uproot his wife and children to the US, he admits that eventually that would be his goal if his NASCAR ride becomes more permanent.
"Yeah, eight hours coming over and six hours coming back," Mickel said of his potential commute. "That's not too bad."
Mickel has yet another passion that he has recently undertaken. While he fully intends to lead the British charge into NASCAR, he also wants to educate the English about stock car racing.
"I commentate on NASCAR on Skysports," Mickel said. "The last two years, we take the feed from the US and commentate the NASCAR race, explain what's going on and explain how NASCAR works."
Mickel estimates that he shares his NASCAR broadcasts with approximately 60,000 of his fellow Brits for each race weekend. "I believe people in England understand NASCAR better now," Mickel said proudly.
At the end of the day, however, there is no place that Mickel would like to be more than racing on some NASCAR track throughout the US.
"We're just trying to get to the US market," Mickel said. "That's where we want to go to. At the end of the day, we want to put all the effort we can to compete."
"NASCAR is good, exciting racing," Mickel continued. "That's unique in motor sports."
"You watch Formula 1 or IndyCar and it's just not exciting," Mickel said. "NASCAR is excitement through and through. That's where I want to be and it would be nice to be a part of it."