MILWAUKEE -- What Simona De Silvestro says makes complete sense, yet that doesn't make it any easier to comprehend.
It's perspective, I guess.
When I was 16, I wanted to borrow the car to go hang out with friends. When she was 16, De Silvestro was making plans for her next move in racing internationally.Then at 17 she gave up a familiar way of life and left her friends in Switzerland and moved to the United States, a last-minute change in plans when an opportunity fell through in England and another opened up here.
"My parents were freaking out a little bit," De Silvestro said. "But you realize if you have a problem you get on a plane and go home.
"Other people go to college. I go to races."
She has fared better on the track than she would have in, say, calculus.
De Silvestro won in Formula BMW in her first season, 2006, and then in 2009 she led the Atlantic Championship with four victories and four poles and nearly won the title.
Now four races into her second IZOD IndyCar Series season, she has challenged champion Tony Kanaan for a podium finish in the opener, run the fastest lap in the rain in the most recent race in Brazil, captured the hearts of fans and grabbed the attention of some of the most powerful people into the paddock.
So five years later, her move was clearly the right choice.
Still, imagine the conversations. Imagine the questions. Imagine the butterflies at the airport. Imagine throwing yourself into an unfamiliar culture on another continent to pursue a career in a fickle and dangerous profession.
"To me it wasn't really that hard," said De Silvestro, who had raced in France and Italy at an age when many Americans first venture to other states. "I've always been so focused behind my goals to be a race-car driver.
"If you have a dream, you have to embrace it with both hands."
That's what it is. De Silvestro is a racer, first and foremost, and the rest of life can happen wherever and however it does. She visits the HVM shop every other day, idolizes seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher and aspires to Formula One but is willing to wrap her arms around whatever racing opportunity comes down the road.
Next for De Silvestro is the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500 on May 29. She was rookie of the year last May, finishing 14th, and has experience and a newer car, both of which should prove beneficial.
She was in town Thursday to promote the Milwaukee 225 on June 19 at the Milwaukee Mile. De Silvestro had seen the track previously only through YouTube videos and the iRacing simulation game, and to race on it will be a daunting new challenge.
But she's taken on her share of those before.