Recently Assistant Editor Amy Henderson sat down with Marcos Ambrose in New Hampshire to talk about the Tazmanian native’s Sprint Cup debut, his family’s move halfway around the world, and just how much gold he’s found away from the track while participating in his favorite hobby. Strap in as Frontstretch goes Beyond the Cockpit with Marcos!
Amy Henderson, Frontstretch: You recently made your Sprint Cup debut at Infineon. Tell us a little about that experience.
Marcos Ambrose: It was a great experience. I was really proud of how we ran. It just didn’t work out for us. It was tough (the transmission failed on the No. 21 Wood Brothers entry during a strong top-10 run), but my first Cup ride couldn’t go any better. Obviously it was road racing, that’s what I do and what I’m comfortable with, and that was a very good way for me to get into Cup racing.
Henderson: Talk a little about the transition from road racing in Australia to mostly oval racing in NASCAR. What was that like for you?
Ambrose: It was a big transition. I had a lot of learning to do and there was no guarantee of success. I’ve really enjoyed the experience whether it works out for me or not. I feel like I’ve just really had a great experience. I’ve just learned plenty. I think I’m a better driver because if it. Hopefully I’ll be able to go back and find myself running in a better category before I lose my chance here in NASCAR. But I don’t think it’s been negative at all; it’s just been a positive. It’s been great.
Henderson: The other part of that transition was a move halfway around the world. You can’t even plug in appliances – how was that for you?
Ambrose: That was a challenge, especially for my family. We’re away from friends and favorite places and things, so it’s a challenge for us and it is a bit of a stress and a burden coming this far. But home’s always there, I know I can always go back, so it’s been great, but a challenge for sure. I think I’ve done more in my short life than many people could dream of, and it’s just been an experience I’ll never forget.
Henderson: What was your family’s reaction when you decided to make the move?
Ambrose: They were fairly nonplussed about it. They can’t have their friends and family around them. But they support me. My wife’s been with me from day one in this racing game and she understands the deal. We’re quite happy and satisfied.
Henderson: How about your Nationwide Series team? Things have been going pretty well on that side of the garage.
Ambrose: We had a great season last year. We came close to winning for the first time. This year has been a bit of a battle, but we’re hanging on. We’re more concerned with the car week in and week out – we’re just not quite where we want to be. We feel like we deserve to be and we should be in the top 10 more often than we are. Hopefully it’s going to come to us.
Henderson: You made your Cup debut for Wood Brothers Racing-one of the legends in NASCAR. What was that like?
Ambrose: It’s been awesome. The Wood Brothers have such history and heritage behind their name and the No. 21 team. I feel the responsibility and I hope I can play my part in getting them back on track. It’s a big challenge, especially when they’re on the rebound where they’ve had a lean couple of years and they’re trying to come back. It’s a tough position to be in. Hopefully I can stand up to the challenge and help them get back to where they want to go.
Henderson: You have all the standard racing hobbies: golfing, go-karting. And then there’s gold prospecting. Can you tell us a little about that one?
Ambrose: It’s something I got into when I came to the U.S. I’ve had an interest in that for awhile and it got difficult with a young family to just go and have a game of golf. I wanted something I could research and look into on the Internet and so I just started looking into it a little bit. So I go out in the field probably about once a month for half a day. It gives me an interest when I’m on the road. I read books about it – the old times and the history of gold mining in the USA. It’s pretty cool story, it really is. It kind of gets you back in the history of America and really the world. It’s a little bit of fun, but it’s just a game. I do whatever (method) it takes. I’ve got a dredge that runs on a motor. We’ve got an excavator we use from time to time, and we have the pans that we use to find the loose rocks in the stream. We just do it all.
Henderson: Have you found any gold?
Ambrose: I find quite a bit. I find enough to pay for the hobby. I’ve got a couple friends I’ve made out of it which is pretty cool, and we haven’t hit the bonanza yet but we’ve had fun.