HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Tanner Foust was picking at the edges of the blue table cloth inside the hospitality tent Saturday morning at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He sat, nearly anonymous, in the shadow of 15-time NHRA champion John Force, who was holding court near the coffee pumpers.
The scene served well enough as a metaphor for the 37-year-old's career: Foust, the degreed biologist, teetering on the periphery of popularity, while Force's gregarious, overt personality suited him well for the senses-overloading sport of drag racing.
A two-time X Games rally gold medallist this year, a two-time Formula D drifting champion, five-time champion ice racer and reputed stuntman, Foust would see his mainstream profile increase in just a few days with the launch of an American version of the BBC staple "Top Gear" on the History Channel. Those more appreciative of his racing exploits would likely be more cognizant of his win at the Gymkhana Grid last week, in which he defeated fellow Ford driver Ken Block, the sport's most visible proponent and event host.
At this point in his career, Foust is different things to different audiences. He's a racer on the European Rallycross circuit, a trailblazer, a brand. He has thoughts on things. We sampled a few.
My Fiesta goes zero to 60 in two seconds. They're 600 horsepower. It's insanely fast. It's blindingly quick. It makes 60 pounds of boost in turbo. These small cars are being built very, very quick, I think it's something that makes for a bright future in the States. With fuel prices and with environmental responsibility, I think it's a move that the U.S. is last to take in the world. It's inevitable that small cars become cool. They need to become cool, and this form of racing shows how fast these platforms can be.
The racing itself, it has all the best parts of motorsports put together: ridiculously fast cars, door-to-door aggression, contact is OK, jumps, dirt, sideways action and the races are very quick. They're only six laps.
For the driver, that is the path more traveled. It's difficult to climb that ladder. It's an expensive ladder, paved with gold and platinum, so there is a lot of interest from up-and-coming drivers to get in the action sports side where maybe some car control can benefit you and you can win but you don't necessarily need the team that has won the last 10 years on your side.
In racing, I may keep going to Europe for this rallycross stuff and learning from the best in the world in these types of cars. And I'd like to do more road racing. I'd like to do LeMans at some point. I'd like to go back to what got me into road racing in the first place, which was traditional road racing in sports cars. Aspirations to do NASCAR? Not necessarily, but I'm just the guy that at some point decided to turn a hobby and interest into a profession and I just really love to drive different stuff. I love the variety in my world. I will try anything.