Magnussen’s American dream: Beyond the F1 chequer

Kevin Magnussen, a Danish F1 driver racing for the American team Haas, sat down in Las Vegas to consider his life beyond Formula 1. The 31-year-old revealed his personal connection to the United States, a bond rooted in childhood memories and a different vision for his future in motorsports.

“I think I connect it a bit with my childhood,” Magnussen shared with Ekstra Bladet. His father, Jan Magnussen, a former F1 and Indycar driver, instilled in him a love for the American way of life. “We rode ATVs out in the middle of nowhere. Went on jet skis in the lake close to where he lived. We were at racetracks, buying toys. It was always like a play holiday when I was in the US,” he recalled fondly.

Now a family man residing in Europe, Magnussen harbors thoughts of establishing a base in the U.S., a testament to his enduring affection for the country. However, he draws a probable definitive line when it comes to following in the wheel tracks of his former Haas teammate Romain Grosjean into Indycar. “When I’m done here, I want to get back into sports cars,” Magnussen clarified, referring to his stint in 2021 with Chip Ganassi, which he thoroughly enjoyed.

Despite this, the allure of the Indy 500 remains a tempting prospect, though he admits that becoming a father has shifted his perspectives. “I would like to try the Indy 500, but maybe something has also changed a little in myself after my two little ones entered the world.”

Magnussen’s view on racing in America is shaped by a contrast he observes with the Formula 1 world. F1, according to him, is a realm marked by seriousness and a certain cynicism, a stark contrast to the more relaxed and passionate vibe of American motorsport. “There are not as many smiles on the faces in Formula 1 as there are in American motorsport,” he noted.

This passion for American motorsports is why a U.S.-based sports car series like IMSA holds particular appeal for Magnussen. His connection to these tracks goes back to his childhood, watching his father race, fueling a desire to one day take the wheel himself. His brief hiatus from F1 in 2021 reignited his “joy of racing,” a sentiment somewhat dimmed in the high-pressure environment of Formula 1. “I think somewhere along the line I was sometimes forgetting that a bit in the years leading up to 2021,” said Magnussen. “It is very serious here in F1.

“People walk around with furrowed brows, thinking things over. There is just too much at stake in this world. It’s also super-serious in the US, but it’s in a different way. There is a different basic atmosphere.”

As for the glitzy and glamorous atmosphere of Las Vegas? Magnussen smiles and admits, “Not really my cup of tea. Although I do love Elvis, and Elvis is everywhere here.”

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