How did you get started in racing? What initially attracted you to the sport?
Ford Chip Ganassi Racing IMSA driver Richard Westbrook: “My dad used to race, so I caught the bug from a very early age. Really, I almost grew up on the race track.”
What is your earliest racing memory?
RW: “Some of my earliest memories are taking spanners from a greasy toolbox at Brands Hatch when my dad was racing. He was racing in the Special Saloon Championship, which was probably closest to what’s called Touring Cars now.”
Who was your favorite racer growing up and why?
RW: “I always liked Niki Lauda, because I read his biography at quite a young age – ‘To Hell and Back.’ It was all about the sacrifices he made to get to where he was. I couldn’t quite believe the sacrifices he had to make. I had so much respect for him after reading that. It made me realize how much I would have to sacrifice to make racing into a career.”
Did you have anyone you considered a mentor in the racing world? Who was it and how have they helped you?
RW: “I think probably like many young drivers starting karting, it’s that father-and-son relationship at that time. Having my dad teach me the basics and trying to impress him…my dad would always stick out as my mentor. After that, motorsport is a funny business in the fact that as a professional driver, you don’t really have a coach. In any other sport, you do. But in motorsport, you do your learning, coaching and mentoring at a very young age and you’re really out on your own after that.”
What are you most proud of in your racing career?
RW: “I think I’m most proud of coming back after a six-year absence from the sport. I couldn’t get anywhere after trying to reach my F1 goal in open wheel, then falling by the wayside and having that determination to come back and make it work, I’m really proud of that. If you have time on the sidelines, you can make it back. I hope that’s what younger drivers learn from me.”
How would you describe your racing style?
RW: “I’d like to think I’m good in lots of different situations. I feel like I’m quite thoughtful. I’m thinking a lot when I’m driving. I’m not so impulsive as maybe some other people. I’m thinking a lot about tires, where I am in the race, what can I do to win this race.”
If you weren’t racing, what do you think you’d be doing?
RW: “Running a restaurant.”
What are some challenges that are unique to your sport compared to other racing series?
RW: “I think the variation in our schedule, with 24-hour races, 12-hour races, 10-hour races, 100 min. races. Street courses, rovals, you have to be good at everything. You have to be good at night, in the wet, on a very short sprint race on a street circuit where every one-hundreth of a second matters. You have to be a good endurance driver. I think that’s what sets us apart from the other series – the variation in our calendar. You have to have a wide-ranging skill set to do well in this series.”
What is the best piece of racing advice you’ve been given?
RW: “Don’t get too carried away when you win, and don’t get too down when you lose. Sometimes it’s really difficult to put that into practice, but I really try to make an effort.”
Do you have any racing-related superstitions?
RW: “It’s not racing-related, but I hate seeing a hat on a bed. Especially on a race weekend. It would be really bad if I found a hat on my bed on a race day. I probably wouldn’t even come to the track (laughing).”
How do you relax when you have free time away from racing?
RW: “After a long travel back from the U.S. to the U.K., nothing beats a long, slow run to clear the head, gather your thoughts and think about the next race.”