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Life on Wheels

Oct. 09, 2006
Oct. 09, 2006

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Oct. 9, 2006

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Life on Wheels

From race to race, Brian Vickers can rely on all the comforts of home

Like most NextelCup drivers, Brian Vickers likes the comforts of home on the road--which in hiscase means accommodations for poker and barbecues. The 22-year-old Vickers, whoraces the number 25 GMAC Chevy Monte Carlo, bought and customized a $700,000,400-square-foot motor coach shortly before breaking into NASCAR's top circuitin 2003. He stays in it three or four nights a week, while his driver,51-year-old former trucker Cotton Crouse, logs about 50,000 miles a yeartraveling among the circuit's 36 races and 22 racetracks. (Vickers, who has wonmore than $3 million this season, flies to races from his immobile home indowntown Charlotte.) "I came up through the ranks and survived just finewithout [a motor coach]," Vickers says. "I used to stay in hotels. Butat this level, having [a coach] is a huge benefit. It helps you get more rest,and [because it's right at the track] it gives you more time." A lookinside:

This is an article from the Oct. 9, 2006 issue Original Layout

THE VIEW FROMWITHIN

LIVING AND DININGROOM The red-and-black decor is pure bachelor chic and highlights the racer'spassion for card playing. Vickers keeps a framed 12-by-18-inch picture of athree of diamonds and a three of clubs ("Just random cards," he says)in the four-person booth that serves as the poker--and the dining--table."We play Texas hold 'em," Vickers says. "Jeff Gordon and I are thebest in our group."

A seven-foot-longblack leather sofa lines the passenger side of the living room--it opens into aqueen-sized bed for guests--and is accented by red-and-gray suede pillows. A19-foot mirror covers the length of the ceiling. The largest of the coach'sthree plasma HDTVs, a 50-incher (below), hangs at the front of the living roomand folds up into the roof. Small speakers dot the area, providing surroundsound. When Vickers isn't watching FuelTV, he's often playing Tiger Woods PGATour 2006 on his XBox 360 with visitors such as Gordon and Jimmie Johnson.

BED A king-sizedbed (below) fills up almost all of Vickers's sleeping nook near the rear of thecoach. Next to a 42-inch plasma at the foot of the bed is a six-foot-high,five-foot-wide closet stocked with the jeans and polo shirts (covered insponsors' logos) that Vickers favors.

KITCHEN Vickershas been getting cooking lessons from Crouse, and he likes to prepare chickenbreasts in a pepper marinade. He's set up with a two-burner gas range andconvection microwave oven. His 14-cubic-foot fridge is flush with bottledwater, Gatorade and Mountain Dew. No booze. "Cristal and beer? That's athome," says Vickers. He also keeps fruit (he likes watermelon and grapes),vegetables and chocolate candies. When Vickers goes for a midnight snack (say,the mint chocolate chip ice cream he always has in his freezer), he won't getcold feet: The black-and-white checkered porcelain tile floor is heated.

BATHS The masterbath (above right), located off the bedroom, has a full-sized shower and acabinet-with-cat-door, which houses a litter box for Vickers's four-year-oldSiamese, Caesar. There's also a small powder room outside the bedroom. "Ifyou have guests over and it's early, they don't have to disturb you," saysVickers, who sleeps as late as 11 a.m.

BEYOND The thirdplasma TV is stashed in a cargo bay that opens to the outside of the coach.Another bay holds an electric grill (right) and a cooler, which get heavy useduring the meals that Vickers--under the shade of two 18-foot awnings--hostsfor his 10 team members. All these custom touches add up to a 46,500-pound rigthat uses gas at a rate of less than seven miles per gallon and needs nearly 15seconds to go from zero to 60 mph. But once it gets up to speed, says Crouse,"it rides like a Cadillac."

FIVE PHOTOSPhotographs by Michael J. Lebrecht II/1Deuce3 PhotographyPHOTO