The New Definition of (Scott) Speed

On two wheels or four, Speed is speed.

Scott Speed is a name known around the world for podium-topping achievements in car racing — from F1 and Formula E to NASCAR and rallycross on the Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross team. Turns out, however, that Speed has another passion that influences his time on and off the race track: bicycles.

The East Coast, from the Seat of a Bike

This summer, Speed and a few friends loaded their road bikes onto Speed’s kitted-out Volkswagen Atlas, complete with a VW Accessories bike rack, and plotted out a different kind of a race: 7 days, almost 200 scenic biking miles on the East Coast (including 70 on the Wachusett Fondo), and then 900 miles of driving for Speed to return home. It was a beautiful setting and the perfect vehicle for the journey.

The trip centered around the Fondo event, created by cyclocross champion and Speed’s friend and cycling mentor, Tim Johnson, for the benefit of a variety of non-profit charities. On that part of the ride, bicyclists tackled nearly 5,000 feet of climbing, including five sections of gravel, as they traversed the less-traveled North Road up Wachusett Mountain.

Other bicycling miles took Speed and friends to scenic points from Virginia to Maine, from stadiums to secluded wilderness areas. The unpredictable weather ended up as the deciding factor as to where the group traveled and added to the adventure.

The Car-Bike Continuum

There’s a natural connection, of course, between race cars and bikes — the pursuit of speed and endurance is part of the lure for a professional driver such as Speed and for any dedicated bicyclist. Speed started to develop a two-wheeled passion when he was living in Italy, racing F1, because everyone else around him was doing it. The cycling culture in Europe is akin to that of baseball or football in the U.S. It’s a recognized sport with massive participation, both on amateur and professional platforms.

Challenges On and Off the Track

During his summer East Coast adventure, Speed had time to reflect on his racing journey and his time on a bicycle. Through the years, he has learned that managing a personal physical challenge — he has ulcerative colitis, a chronic bowel disease — means he must stay in tune with how he feels, what he eats, and his daily physical demands. Speed’s pursuit of health and his pursuit of speed go hand in hand. “I don’t see my body that much differently than a race car,” he says. “The inputs are just different. My food is my fuel, and learning about how to perform well physically is a lot of fun.”

Speed attacks everything he does with 100 percent effort but has to be careful about any stress his body may take during training. He’s continued to adjust his routine to maintain his health, seeking the advice of friends and experts to tweak his diet. For example, Johnson suggested he add simpler foods — oatmeal, rice, potatoes — and it’s a change that seems to work for him.

His physical condition hasn’t stopped him from staying on top in the racing world. Speed racked up national attention as a five-time karting champion while in his teens. He is currently the points leader in the American Rallycross championship, earning his most recent win in an Oberto Circle K Beetle Rallycross.

Always Ready to Ride

Speed’s confidence and experience racing cars at speeds upward of 200 mph still doesn’t adequately prepare him for the trials he finds while straddling 15 pounds of carbon fiber on a bike, shredding roads on two wheels pumped up to 100 psi. But he loves a challenge, including managing micro inputs (tiny adjustments in bike weight, for example) — very much on the mind of any serious cyclist.

While Speed isn’t ready to turn in his racing suit for a cycling kit full time, he still logs an average of 250 bicycle miles a week, and his bike has become something more than a mode of transportation. “My passion for cycling comes from physically being able to do it,” Speed says of the activity that helps him stay fit, enjoy the outdoors, and cultivate lasting relationships with fellow cyclists. “It’s a great community . . . full of great people to be around.”

Watch: Ride Along with Scott

Captions, top to bottom:

  • Speed and friends Troy Fenderson and Jonathan Vitolo (left to right) get their gear on for the day’s ride. 
  • Scott Speed began his podium-topping career on the go-kart circuit. 
  • The thinnest of wheels, the lightest of bike frames: Serious cyclists such as Fenderson, Speed, and Vitolo (left to right) focus on tiny adjustments in weight and friction to maximize how fast and how far they can go. 
  • Thanks to the roomy interior and equipped with both Thule hitch mount and roof racks, Speed’s Atlas transported a rotating collection of gear and bikes for the week-long journey. Speed secures his bike on the Thule® Hitch Mount Bike Carrier Attachment on the back of his VW Atlas. 
  • Speed and Troy Fenderson enjoy a moment of levity during their East Coast ride. 
  • Maine offered some of the most enthralling scenery for riders Fenderson, Ted King, and Speed, pictured here at the Boothbay Harbor Public Landing. 
  • With the Washington Monument fast receding in the background, bicyclists Marc Ryan of Third Story Films, Vitolo, Fenderson, and Speed make their way north. 
  • Part of the bicycling journey for Speed, Fenderson, and Vitolo included taking part in the 70-mile Wachusett Fondo. Speed began his Global Rallycross career in 2013; he’s been part of the Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross team since 2014.