The journey of Simon Pagenaud to the Verizon IndyCar Series championship began in a small town in France. His father ran a supermarket that provided the family with a comfortable living but not the type of funding that would get his son involved in big-time racing.
But young Simon was determined to be a race driver and, with the help of his father, his journey began.
“It hasn’t been easy; it’s been a long road but definitely worth it,” Pagenaud said. “My family was not in racing. My dad owned a supermarket and my grandfather owned a supermarket, so what was I going to do in racing?
“If racing didn’t work, I was going to go back to the supermarket.”
But with his father’s help, Pagenaud was able to learn and dream.
“The love of racing started at 4 years old,” he recalled. “My dad put me on his lap and taught me how to drive on the streets. We got pulled over a few times, but there was nothing in the rulebook you could say. So my story is one of many challenges with goals impossible to reach. I’m from a town of 7,000 people. It was a farm town, so how I was I going to get to here?
“I had to win or it was back to the supermarket for me.”
Shortly after decisively winning the Verizon IndyCar Series championship with a victory in the season-ending race at California’s Sonoma Raceway, Pagenaud flashed back to the beginning of his journey.
“What I’m thinking about right now is it’s been a long career,” he said. “I started at 7 years old. You go through a lot. I remember my first race in France in a go-kart. It was raining. I had my visor open because I had the wrong helmet. I still have that picture at home.
“The ground I covered since is quite incredible.”