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NASCAR driver keeps it in high gear, even on vacation

By Rebecca Angel Baer, CNN
updated 12:33 PM EDT, Fri September 9, 2011
Brian Vickers holds up the catch of the day in the Exuma Islands of the Bahamas.
Brian Vickers holds up the catch of the day in the Exuma Islands of the Bahamas.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NASCAR driver Brian Vickers enjoys skydiving, spear fishing and scuba diving
  • Vickers considers Jackson Hole, Wyoming, a "high-octane adventure"
  • He loves exploring new places, cultures, experiences and, of course, thrills

Atlanta (CNN) -- If you earn your living driving at speeds upward of 200 mph, chances are you don't slow down even when you're on vacation. That's certainly the case for NASCAR driver Brian Vickers.

When not behind the wheel of the No. 83 car in the Sprint Cup Series, Vickers is known as a bit of a daredevil: an avid skydiver, spear fisherman and scuba diver, to name a few of his extracurricular actives.

In fact, CNN caught up with Vickers on a recent trip to Atlanta to promote Atlanta Motor Speedway. But he didn't just hold a press conference; instead, he invited the media to watch him scuba dive in the Ocean Voyager exhibit at the Georgia Aquarium.

The four whale sharks that live in this exhibit were a new sight for the seasoned diver, and it was clear he was enjoying the experience. He also took notice of several of the groupers that seemed to be paying special attention to him.

"I had a couple of groupers sneak up on me more than once. Those are sneaky little guys. I guess it's their mating season, so they were a little fired up. There's a couple of guys on the track that will sneak up on you," Vickers said.

NASCAR driver Brian Vickers goes for a dive at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta.
NASCAR driver Brian Vickers goes for a dive at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta.

After the dive, he took a moment to reflect on the top five destinations that satisfy his need for high-octane adventure.

First on the list: Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

"Jackson Hole, Wyoming, I'm a huge fan of. It's just so beautiful out there. In the summer and the winter. ... The summer is incredible just because of the beauty and the nature, the mountains and the hiking and the rafting and fishing. So many great outdoor activities, and I really love to be outdoors."

Second on Vickers' list is the Exumas in the Bahamas, where he enjoys the natural beauty as well.

"The water's incredible. There's a lot of great diving and snorkeling and swimming and spear fishing." Vickers also looks forward to eating well when vacationing here.

"There's some good restaurants. More hole in the wall, island type places. It's a very small community down there," he said.

Destination number three is Aspen, Colorado.

Brian Vickers goes for a different kind of ride in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Brian Vickers goes for a different kind of ride in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

"I really enjoy Aspen. Very similar to Jackson Hole but unique in its own way. A little bit bigger town ... a little bit more vibrant night life," Vickers said.

No. 4 on Vickers' list strays a little from the other favorites, but it feeds into two more of his passions: food and history.

"I always really liked Rome because I absolutely am a history buff, and you can find something from almost every century in Rome. And obviously the food. It's just to die for. Italian food is my favorite food, so that's another reason I like it there."

And the final destination in Vickers' top five takes him back to the islands.

"St. Barts is another favorite ... similar but different from the Caribbean, the Exumas. A lot more mountainous where the Exumas are very, very flat." Vickers also enjoys swimming, diving and hiking here. He continued with his comparison between his two favorite island spots:

"Similar to comparing Jackson (Hole) to Aspen, I kinda compare the Exumas to St. Barts. One is very raw and natural and great in its own way, and the other has that, but is more modern and (has) better night life."

This is Vickers' top five list, but he's quick to point out that it's only five locations, and he loves exploring new places, cultures, experiences and of course, thrills. He is by no means ready to slow down on or off the track.

"You know when you start to look at a globe, you start to realize even if you've been a lot of places, you've been nowhere. There's just so much out there to explore, see and do. So I'm anxious and excited to go do that."

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