From Newquay to Monaco, this small-town Cornish local is realising his childhood dreams and finding his path to being the next top race car driver.
Motor sports is a big industry and even if you’re not a Formula 1 fan, there are those such as Lewis Hamilton, David Coulthard, Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna that are household names which most people have heard of. One such individual hoping to be one of the great names in motor racing is a young man called Tommy Foster.
Tommy is keen to progress into even faster classes
Hailing from the Cornish town of Newquay, Tommy attended St Columb Major Primary School, which is in a little town a few miles outside of Newquay, and went on to attend Treviglas Academy. He enjoyed his time at school, but from a very young age his mind was occupied with tracks and race cars. “My parents took me to Monaco when I was very young, around six years old I think and I remember saying to myself that I wanted to do that!” With the constant support of his parents he started at the local ‘Arrive and Drive’ at the age of seven. “For me it was such a great experience as I could feel the power and sense of freedom it gave me to be behind the wheel. I loved the experience so much that I ended up going several times a week. Arrive and Drive is such a great activity and anyone can do it, I highly recommend anyone into cars to find their local and try out the experience, it’s great fun.”
Tommy and Raoul Popescu-Ghimis, CEO of Race Software
After regular sessions, Tommy had developed a real appetite for the art of racing and turned to professional karting, taking the next step into the world of wheels with the purchase of a cadet kart. “Karting was amazing, it was something that I thoroughly enjoyed and found that I was also really good at so steadily moved up the ranks. I won several championships including English and British Championships, as well as putting it on Pole for the World Finals in Portugal. However, I always wanted to do more, be in a faster class and progress further.”
In 2019 Tommy entered the world of Formula 4 racing, and it wasn’t long before he found himself grappling with the thrills that come with Le Mans P3. “For me personally, I prefer LMP3. The car is better, it has more power, more downforce and more grip. The car itself is heavier, however the power it gives you more than makes up for it.” It was with Le Mans P3 that Tommy accomplished a childhood dream that many children share, and won his debut race earlier this year in Barcelona. “Honestly, it was just crazy. There was just such a mixture of emotions. At the time, everything was a bit of a blur and even though I’d completed the race, I didn’t see the flag go up so kept on racing. It was only after several messages down my radio that it got through to me that the race was over and I’d won!” This small-town Newquay local received his gold with utter astonishment, having not raced at all for two years and previously hoping to place in the top five. It goes to show that this young man possesses a raw and genuine talent – especially since he had only six hours of testing and getting to know the vehicle before having to race in it on the very same mid-April day. Tommy’s latest race took place in early June, and even as we write, he is gearing up for the main event at Le Mans – taking place in August.
Tommy on his way to victory at Le Mans P3
From Cornwall to pole position
While the challenges of racing over the years can be overwhelming for such a young person, this budding driver hasn’t been in it alone. With his parents either side of him, Tommy has been able to live his wildest dreams. “They have been my biggest supporters,” says Tommy, “championing me ever since I first showed interest in racing. They’ve done everything they can and have helped me emotionally, financially and have always been there, supporting my career and ambitions.” With his dad as his mechanic, and his mum handling events and logistics, the Foster family are a force to be reckoned with. But his parents aren’t the only ones backing him. “Aside from my parents, I’m tremendously grateful to various businesses and sponsors who have shown an interest and have had faith in me and my career. I feel really lucky and grateful to be endorsed by Prince Albert of Monaco – he’s been a tremendous support to me and the family and has really cheered me on.”
Locally, there are several businesses that have helped with Tommy’s career, such as Newquay based businesses Fistral Beach Bar and Hendra Holiday Park, alongside Elite Wealth Management in Penzance and The Cornwall Kitchen Company in Wadebridge, all of whom have been incredibly supportive, and without whose investment Tommy’s racing dream may have remained exactly that.
This Cornish boy is beginning to make a name for himself on the international track
Tommy (right), HSH Prince Albert of Monaco (middle) and Raoul Popescu-Ghimis, CEO of Race Software (right)
The highs of racing are tremendous, however what is often overlooked is the flipside; the trials and tribulations of the journey, the days that aren’t so easy. Grassroots sports are difficult; motor racing isn’t cheap, and in order for a career in racing to move forward and progress up to the faster levels, the budgeting aspect needs to be managed, as Tommy is only too aware: “For me racing is my life and passion and I am fully committed to it. The local businesses that have contributed and allowed me to carry on this path are showing faith in me. Any support from local businesses is greatly appreciated, and we are always grateful to hear from anyone that is able to help in any way at all.” By way of appreciation to the companies who have kindly gone out on a limb for the young driver, Tommy has been helping out in a bar and has even cleaned a forecourt!
The adrenaline rush you get from watching motor racing is incredible and knowing that he’s one of the few individuals that gets to experience it from behind the wheel gives what Tommy describes as a ‘real buzz’. Unfortunately, at present, something that he’s having to keep in the back of his mind is that each race may be his last, simply because of funds. “It’s quite a bizarre feeling getting into a car, uncertain if this will be the final race. It makes each race precious; it puts additional pressure on you as you want to do your absolute best and to really make sure that it counts.”
Tommy collaborated with HSH Prince Albert of Monaco (pictured) and two current F1 drivers, to create a piece of art from Pirelli tyres dipped in paint
For now, Tommy is looking forward to going to Monaco this year. It will be the first time he’s ever competed here and will be the perfect opportunity to analyse the techniques and driving styles of all the drivers and see how he can adapt any of his own styles for future races. Following the event in Monaco, he’s straight off to get ready for the next one. “Once I get there, the environment will help me to mentally prepare and once on the track, I can forget about everything except for the car, the track and the race.”