Here at Extreme Element we pride ourselves in brining you the greatest experiences from top notch suppliers, so for this feature we thought we’d take the time to find out why our suppliers are among the best in the business… This month we’ve interviewed Leo Forster, founder of the Forster Racing School – ex National Rally Cross Champion now offering Rally Cross experiences in the South East!
Hi Leo, thanks for taking the time to talk to us today. So, how did you first get into motor racing?
I first got into racing aged of 5 when I was fortunate enough to be taken Karting by my Dad in a local field, I remember racing my older brother… and actually beating him at something!
I was racing by the age of 11, and had won my first ever race and championship in my first year. I moved into Juniors which was a bit more difficult, racing 16 year olds, but I managed to win the British F6 Karting Championship at 13. Motor racing was put on the back burner for a few years after that, until after my A Levels – but I soon took it back up and went on to place second in the National BRDC Formula Ford Championship.
Unable to secure the funds to race the following season, I went to University and gained a degree. I worked at almost every race and rally school in the country, but was still unable to secure a drive until 2008 when I was introduced to Rage at Goodwood – and started racing Rallycross at the end of the 2008 season. I was thrown in at the deep end racing against the likes of Chris Meeke (IRC world Rally Champion) and Ollie O’Donnovan (previous British Rallycross Champion). I didn’t get into my stride until 2009 though, when I took the British Rallycross RX150 Championship, also winning in 2010 – but just missed out in 2011 due to mechanical problems.
Do you have any advice for someone looking to get into motor racing?
Find your nearest school or Kart circuit and go have a go. If you find you really enjoy it then get a licence and start racing. There are so many championships in the UK that it’s hard to choose the one that’s right for you, but one that is within budget and has a level playing field is a good start. I’m always looking for talent at the school and always take time to talk to people about what their next steps in racing should be. There are championships out there which don’t require licences, are extremely competitive and cost just £300 for a season!
What is the most fun form or racing you have competed in?
Fun and competitive has to be Rallycross, you just can’t beat sliding sideways at over 90mph with a bunch of drivers in equal equipment all looking to take your place. Circuit racing is quick – but Rallycross is fun!
What is your proudest moment or greatest achievement so far?
I think taking the 2009 British Rallycross Championship was the proudest moment. It had been 7 years out of the driving seat so to come back in that fashion was great. I had to come 5th or above to win, and my qualifying heats had been really bad – the pressure was enormous. I almost lost my voice shouting in the car when I realised I had won the race and the championship. I remember giving an interview after the race live on TV and the grin on my face must have made me look like a Cheshire cat!
Have you had any bad crashes or injuries during your racing career?
I’ve had a few bad crashes, but fortunately no bad injuries. I put a car in the tyre wall backwards at over 90mph once, broke the rear axle and my race helmet with the impact as it hit the roll bar. I had concussion for a few days after that one, but it was a lucky escape. The car was a Lotus 7 Kit car with the engine at the front, so had I gone in to the barrier head first I may have lost my legs!
Have you raced in any exotic locations? Which is your favourite?
Exotic? Maybe not… Belgium, America, Ireland I think that’s it other than the UK. My favourite has to be Ireland Rallycross tracks – both Nutts Corner and Mondello are great-fun, long and technical tracks. You really have to think about what you’re doing at those circuits.
Do you have a favourite stunt to perform when behind the wheel?
Stunts are surprisingly easy to do, I’m thinking of teaching them at the school soon; J Turns, one handed drifts, doughnuts etc… I do like to finish my passenger rides sometimes with a 360 spin then drift between two cars to stop!
Awesome! What have you got planned for 2012?
2012 is unsecured at the moment; I just haven’t got the budget to take the next step. I’d love to compete at the X Games, or do the off road championships but it’s difficult without a major sponsor. I’d really like to get into endurance racing in the long term – maybe share a drive with someone.
How did you make the jump from driver to instructor?
Instructing in the UK has two parts to it. The first is to get your racing up to spec and take the exam, the second is to network like crazy! I really enjoy instructing but I felt that almost every school didn’t allow their customers to experience raw racing. Driving with the car twitching, having to feed the power on or ‘lose the back end’ was not in the script. Something I wanted to change with Forster Racing School…
When did you set up your Rally School?
Originally I set the school up to teach racing drivers and Rally drivers how to get the most from their driving and decrease lap times. However, in January 2011 I decided to open the opportunity to everyone and change the way we do business. We still go fast and we still monitor time laps to see the improvement, but unless requested; its more about experiencing your potential than looking for a ‘tenth of a second here’ and ‘five metres later on the brakes’ there. We still offer that course and like to get heavily involved with training individuals but it’s also open to anyone who wants to experience it.
What differentiates your experiences from all the others?
Fantastic Leo, thanks again for talking to us today – and good luck with the racing this year!
If you would like to experience first hand the thrill of Rallycross and be taught by some of the best instructors in the country, including Leo himself; why not book one of his experiences through us?
Forster Racing driving experiences:
Forster Racing Taster Special
Get a great introduction to Rallycross as you drive the awesome Rage Buggy under the supervision of an expert instructor throughout the two hour experience. Finish with a white knuckle passenger ride driven by a pro!
Forster Racing Rage Buggy – Half Day
Learn some of the basics of Rallycross driving such as racing lines and ‘Scandinavian Flicks’ from professional drivers. The awesome Rage Buggy’s are capable of reaching 60mph in just 4 seconds ensuring ear to ear smiles!
Forster Racing Rage Buggy – Full Day
With a full day of expert tuition, this is the ultimate Rallycross experience as you get to grips with the incredible Rage Buggy! Your skills will be tested at the end of the experience with timed laps of the purpose built Rallycross track.