Tanner Foust InterviewBy: Simon
Tanner Foust is one of the top rally car drivers in the world. When he isn't burning around hairpin turns or high-speed drift racing, he's driving high-flying stunt cars in blockbuster action movies. Check out what he told Simon about racing at the X Games and becoming a Hollywood stunt driver.
Simon: How did you get started in rally car racing?
Tanner Foust: I've always been into racing cars since the age of three when I started watching my dad shift gears in the car. That kind of gave me the bug. When I saw my first rally car race on TV when I was 18, I was hooked and just thought it was unbelievable. Then when I was 24, I got a job at an ice-driving school in Colorado and became addicted to car control. I somehow convinced my boss to buy a rally car for me to drive and found some people to sponsor me and that's how it started. To become a rally car driver, you need to be able to drive and you also need to be able to find people with money to sponsor you when you first start out.
Simon: What was it like to race at the X Games?
Tanner Foust: It was a lot of fun. Not very many people have seen rally racing before so it was nice to see the sport exposed to a big audience. But the course was excellent - there were huge table tops, lots of tight turns and absolutely huge air - very cool.
Simon: What's the difference between rally racing and drift racing and which do you like more?
Tanner Foust: Rally races are longer races that take you through a crazy course through the woods over like three days, so it's more of an endurance test and you really need to make sure your car can hold up for that long. Drifting is a sport where you're going for show and judged on how fast you can turn a corner. A drift race is over in mere seconds and there aren't so many dangerous elements like steep cliffs or unknown trees like there are in a rally race. I think you risk your life a bit more in a rally race, which makes me nervous, but I don't know if I like one better than the other.
Simon: Do you play any other sports to prepare you for racing?
Tanner Foust: I do a lot of mountain biking. I bike at night because it works as the same kind of vision exercise you need when rally racing. You need to be able to see your line ahead but also concentrate on what's right in front of you. You're constantly looking far away and up close at the same time. You need to be able to see what's up ahead without forgetting that there's a cliff or rock right in front of you.
Simon: What's the worst accident you've had when driving?
Tanner Foust: As a racer, I've had a few crashes here and there but the worst accident I've ever had was when I was a teenager. I was driving my Honda Civic a little too fast and flipped it end over end seven times.
Simon: What sort of protective gear do you wear when you drive?
Tanner Foust: We wear a ton of safety gear. A three layer fire suit, fire-resistant socks and underwear, fire-resistant shoes and gloves and of course, the helmet, is really important.