Tanner Foust Tackling New Challenges In 2014
If you saw Need for Speed earlier this year, that was Tanner behind the wheel, doubling for Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul. He's participating in more mayhem as new episodes of Top Gear are in the works. And BFTV caught up with him over the weekend in Lake Elsinore, where he was participating in the Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series, to ask him about that as well as the new team he's joined for the upcoming 2014 Red Bull Global Rallycross season.
Both Tanner and his GRC competitor Travis Pastrana were competing in the Pro 2 action on Saturday, and Tanner explained how he teamed up with Rockstar Racing colleague Rob MacCachren to get involved in his first truck racing. As it turns out, this next chapter has been awhile coming. "I went to the Chula Vista race like six years ago and it was really cool," he told us, "and I checked it out and thought about getting involved."
Those thoughts were put aside by his Rallycross career, "But then there were murmurings of off road racing getting into the X Games, and that was enough of a catalyst to get Rockstar to help us do a couple of these races," he continued. "And so I'm going to do two or three of them.
"But now the off road part of X Games is a different series. It's not this series," he added. "But that's okay. It's a big challenge. It's really fun."
Anyone who's been involved in any form of racing will tell you that it's more complicated than just driving. So surely, going from competing in a car to competing in a truck is more difficult than just picking up a set of keys, right? What did Tanner have to do to prepare for his new ride? "Neck exercises," he revealed, telling us just how strenuous it really is. "It's like so bad on your body, this stuff. The jumps, the landings, the crashes.
"If you look at the track, the jumps are over the top. The trucks are 30 feet in the air, they're flying 200 feet every single lap, and they're door to door. Travis Pastrana and I touched in the air, like 30 feet in the air, the other day yesterday," he continued. "It's an incredibly dangerous form of racing, I'm realizing."
He's used to facing danger, as there are plenty of risks taken in Tanner's 'day job' in Global Rallycross. At last year's X Games, half the Last Chance Qualifier field didn't even make it through the heat. Yet as he explained, Pro 2 racing is just a different kind of risk. "[In] GRC, they crash into each other a lot more. This, you have the potential just to crash alone," he said. "For sure, GRC's more demolition derby, so it's more car damage, but this is like, you're barrel rolling down the straightaway."
Competing in a different class of racing isn't the only major move that Tanner is making in the 2014 season. He's still running a full Global Rallycross season, and it was announced in early February that he was leaving Ford and the Olsbergs MSE team to race for the newly formed Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross (VARX) squad. It's a gutsy move, especially for a driver with proven success and an established brand. But it also is classic Tanner: where he could sit back and maintain the status quo, he'd rather push himself even further.
The move to Volkswagen means that instead of his well-known Ford Fiesta, he'll be driving not one but two new VW vehicles in the 2014 Rallycross campaign. "Part of this year I'll be in the Polo, which is a Volkswagen not sold in the US," he explained. "That is a new variation of a Polo that's been run in Europe before by [Anton] Marklund.
"And then at some point we'll get the Beetle, and that's going to be awesome," Tanner enthused. "The Beetle's being developed by the same engineers that built the WRC Polo that like conquered the world. So we're, [his teammate] Scott [Speed] and I, really optimistic about the performance of that car. And then also, just the chance to work with those engineers in development is pretty incredible."
Spoken like the true racing driver that is Tanner Foust. With nothing left to prove - there probably hasn't been anything to prove for awhile, between the two Rallycross titles, two Formula Drift championships and four X Games gold medals - and a reputation as one of the best both on and off the track, he's not competing to appease his ego. He's motivated by love of motorsport and a true enthusiasm to not only find out what's next, but take it on with both hands and see what happens.
And that's how you end up starting your racing schedule behind the wheel of a truck, in a new ride but still as fired up and focused for the season ahead as you've ever been.
"GRC's good and it's much more marketable for a guy like me and it's more my wheelhouse," Tanner told us, "but it's always good to try your hand at something you're not used to."
Tanner's next racing stop is GRC Barbados on May 17 and 18; new episodes of Top Gear will air on History later this year. To keep up with all things Tanner-related, be sure to visit his official site (tannerfoust.com) and follow him on Twitter (@tannerfoust).
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