Men's Health: Vickers' brush with death

July 29, 2014, Pat DeCola,

Michael Waltrip Racing driver's inspirational story featured in popular magazine

(Photograph by Peter Bohler)

When you look back at his career from 2001 to today, Brian Vickers' NASCAR journey has been more interesting than most others'.

He hit it big in 2004 with a full-time ride with Hendrick Motorsports at the unpolished age of 20-years-old, only to find himself out of the No. 25 a few short seasons later despite his first career win in 2006.

After recovering by landing a gig with the now-defunct Red Bull Racing, things took a turn for the worse when it was discovered that he was suffering from deep vein thrombosis, forcing him out of the car for the remainder of 2010 after just 11 races. He was back in the car a season later, but after the demise of RBR the North Carolina native struggled to latch onto a full-time ride, electing to run part-time with Michael Waltrip Racing in 2012-13 while re-gaining his footing in a full-time Joe Gibbs Racing Nationwide Series ride last year.

Now that he's racing full-time for MWR in the No. 55 and his health issues are behind him (he had a similar scare last year, as well) Vickers' focus is on looking ahead, making the first Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup of his career and spreading awareness for DVT.

Earlier this season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway he caught up with Men's Health Magazine for a feature on his inspirational story that runs in September's issue, which hit newsstands Tuesday.

"I spent so much of my life trying to swim upstream ... I'm still swimming, but I'm going with the current."

-- Brian Vickers

Here's an excerpt from the piece, courtesy of

At age 26, Vickers was nearly killed by the medical equivalent of a 12-car pileup inside his veins. He'd believed he was in great shape. "I skydived, mountain biked, you name it," he says. "I thought I was invincible."

But in 2010, while visiting friends in Washington, D.C., Vickers started having chest pains and shortness of breath. The pain got worse at night, so he did what he figured was the most rational thing possible: "I took some Tylenol PM and went back to bed." In the morning, he called his doctor, who told him to go to a hospital immediately. Instead Vickers went to lunch. But the pain grew worse, so finally he headed off to the ER. On foot. Jogging. "Every breath was the most horrible thing I'd ever experienced in my life," he says.

His CT scan revealed deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a life-threatening clotting condition. "I had clots in my left leg, my lungs, even my finger," he says. "A clot actually went through my heart and into my left arm."

Vickers wasn't overly concerned with his diagnosis, and he asked his doctor if he could speed up treatment to make his next race. The doc stared at him. "Son, I don't think you understand the severity of the situation," he said. "You're most certainly not racing this weekend, if you ever race again." Vickers was coming off his best season ever, and expectations were high for 2010. Now he faced the very real prospect that it might all be over.

Be sure to check out the full version of the article, which you can view at and look for the September issue of Men's Health Magazine, available now.

Read more from Inside Groove here.


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