Their lives are about to change forever. After what they endured last offseason, anything different is a welcome change for Will and Liz Power.
The Team Penske driver and his wife are expecting their first child, a boy, on Dec. 22. Family and friends tease the expectant “daddy” with an ideal racing name for their son.
“I had somebody say we should name him Mo Power,” Liz said with a laugh.
Creative suggestions with a similar twisted sense of humor have included first names Horse, Chevy and Solar. It they were to have a girl, she could have been named Flower. For now, Flower Power will have to wait.
Yeah, it’s all in good fun. And the anticipation of welcoming that child into this world is an opposite extreme from a year ago, when Will was ill for about four months. Repeated visits with doctors weren’t solving the problem.
Symptoms began with a lack of energy. He would get sick after eating seemingly anything. Then came sinus infections. The 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion missed the 2016 season-opening race at St. Petersburg, Fla., with a serious inner-ear infection that caused nausea and affected his equilibrium. This after he won the pole in Verizon P1 Award qualifying the day before the race.
“It turned out to be food allergies,” Liz said, shaking her head. “I’m glad he didn’t run because at that time we didn’t know what was going on. (Missing) St. Pete had to happen. Because it did happen, we were able to find out what was going on. We had been to doctor after doctor and weren’t getting any answers.”
The missed start put Power at a points disadvantage in the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season, as he valiantly played catch-up against eventual champion and teammate Simon Pagenaud. That Power — after a midseason stretch of four wins and two seconds — made September’s season finale at Sonoma Raceway an all-or-nothing title showdown between the two of them sure seemed impossible back in March.
“I told him, ‘No matter what happens, we didn’t think you’d be here right now. So win or lose, you made it a heck of a long way,’” Liz said. “Let me tell you, at Christmas time, we didn’t think he was going to be racing. He was so sick all offseason.”
Liz saw her husband persevere in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet and display the determination that has made him not just a champion and four-time points runner-up, but a 29-time series race winner.
“He amazes me because he’s such a mentally tough, determined person,” she said. “With everything he’s been through, I think it’s made him even more determined.”
Racing brought them together. Liz Cannon started out in public relations for Walker Racing in 2006. Team owner Derrick Walker warned her against dating drivers, but she couldn’t help it.
They were married in Hawaii, on a Maui beach in 2010. Whereas Will is from Australia, Liz grew up in Texas and Indiana and earned a degree from Purdue University. Their routine requires offseason travel to keep families happy. After Sonoma, the couple looked forward to a trip to Hawaii and then spending a month in Australia.
Will disguised his disappointment in losing the championship with the confession, “I’m ready to meet my son.”
Racing friends threw Liz a baby shower at Sonoma. It wasn’t until after the race that Will started shifting his focus toward family.
“As soon as I got out of the car and seeing my wife is pregnant, I started thinking about that,” he said.
Like any first-time parent, Will doesn’t quite realize how his life will never be the same. He thinks he has an idea, but what first-time parent ever really does?
“It will give me a new thing to have to go out and earn and perform for, you know what I mean?” he said.
Actually, his son will give him so much more than that. Power is aware, at least early on, an ample amount of rest won’t be involved.
“That’s not going to be a break,” Will said. “It’s going to be real interesting to see how the whole sleep pattern works. He’s going to be on our sleep pattern.”
Power joked about perfecting his diaper changing technique.
“I’m going to see if I can get it down to five seconds. Everything is about speed for me,” he said. “We’ll see how quickly I can get that done. Liz is really happy about that, that I’m excited.”
Whatever the newborn is named, the Powers sound ready to move onto the next stage of their lives together. The most recent unpredictable chapter was rather eventful. The next one promises to be even more so.
“Life is pretty good,” Liz said. “We’re happy.”