Tom Edgar is an up and coming racing driver with motorsport in the blood.
Coming from a family with a wealth of racing experience, the 18-year-old Northern Irishman’s aims are very high indeed, with him competing in the British GT Championship last season for Toyota.
Working his way up the motorsport ladder, and balancing his academic studies alongside it, GIVEMESPORT spoke to Tom exclusively to talk about his aspirations, his career so far, and his motorsport heroes.
We started, though, with the influence of his family on his racing…
“It started off with my grandad. He raced throughout the 70s. He raced scramblers and then he raced Formula Fords and then whenever he stopped, that same year my dad began and then he raced all the way through up until 2010.
“He raced in Formula Ford and in Vauxhall Lotus, which became Formula Renault, and as soon as he stopped, I started, and here I am now. So being sort of a third generation, it was inevitable that it was going to land upon me. I started to love the sport, loved going to see my dad race. I was so young at the time, I started when I was six, so I have very faint memories of it, but I’ve always loved the sport.”
This all said, we had to ask Tom if he’d ever raced his dad, and who was best!
“The closest I’ve come [to racing him] is on the sim. I think in his prime, he was very, very good, but I smoke him on the sim to be honest!
“My dad would be my biggest sort of source of knowledge that I’ve used. Obviously, as I’ve progressed, I’ve needed him less and less, but absolutely he would be the first person I turned to for advice.
“It’s great to have someone like that, someone with so much experience. Just to speak about what we’re going to do before each session – he’s always there, and he loves it so much, which is great.”
Away from his family, Tom, like many young kids dreaming of being racing drivers, was hooked on F1 growing up:
“I remember Jenson Button, very vaguely, winning the 2009 World Championship.
“I can’t lie, just seeing that there, the British driver winning, sort of got me into it. And then of course Sebastian Vettel won for all those years after that. We had a school project to write about an athlete you like and I picked Sebastian Vettel who, of course, was dominating at the time. Just little things like that is where my love of the sport developed from.
“I’d say Vettel [was my biggest hero.] From a young age, he was always on the up whenever I started to come into motorsport and started to become a spectator. So yeah, Sebastian, definitely, just because of his drive and his determination, like with the multi-21 situation in Malaysia, things like that.
“The controversy around it just made me like him more, because he just did what he wanted and he won, and he did so well. I liked Nico Rosberg as well, because he was a bit of an underdog, so when he won in 2016, obviously, I was very happy. I like Max Verstappen, I like his aggression and I can see a bit of Sebastian in him, but it’s not the same as my childhood era. I’ve got a lot of respect for hard racers, but at the same time, you have to keep it within the limits.”
Balancing racing and school work is obviously a challenge any young driver faces, meanwhile, but growing up Tom reveals he’s never felt as though he has struggled to get both done:
“I’ve been doing it my whole life. There hasn’t been a time where I haven’t been racing. It’s just always been, you know, ‘I was away at the weekend, so we’ll catch up tonight’ or something like that – it’s never been an issue for me.
“I’ve done well at school. I don’t have any real issues with school. I’ve just got by really, there’s never been an issue. I hope to continue doing both, I’ve got an offer to go to King’s College London to study Economics which I was pretty happy about so school’s not been an issue.”
Impressive stuff, and it’s clear that Tom has a solid alternative plan in mind if the racing does not go where he wants it to:
“I’d like to go on, providing if the motorsport doesn’t work out – which I’d love for it to work, into investment banking. There are so many comparisons to motorsport in terms of the competition. You’re just operating at such a high level pushing those fine margins. So that’s a field that excites me, the sort of mergers and acquisitions, just the work and just getting it done.”
Racing is Plan A, however, with his GT career beginning to take off after moving through karting and into Ginettas. We asked him how he found that initial transition:
“They’re apples and oranges. They’re a completely different discipline, go karts are very fine margins, very small, just very different cars whereas with a Ginetta you’re properly giving it a bit of sideways love.
“The thing you can really take between the two is the race craft and the sort of killer instinct, which I’ve had an advantage with compared to some other people with Ginettas, because if they start when say they’re 14 driving a car, I’ve already been racing since I was six.
“So although in terms of pace, in terms of ability, things might be similar, the actual instinct of, I’ll send a move here or I can line up a move, that mindset is something I’ve found has really helped me and that’s what karting has given me. It’s such a strong foundation I’ve been able to build on at the start of my career.”
Tom drove for Toyota last season in GT4 in a Supra, and it’s clear having that sort of backing in 2022 left an impression on him:
“To have a name like that just on your suit is incredible. I got to visit the Toyota factory last summer and do a bit of a demonstration. They have a really cool oval track to test cars on, which I took the Supra out on. To be with Toyota was awesome. I can’t thank them enough for what they did across the year.
“We had our ups and downs but I think at the end of the year, we really got it together and throughout the last three rounds we really had something good going. And of course that all showed at Donington where I had pole, win, and fastest lap – it couldn’t really have gone any better.
“For me, it’s always been said to me whenever I was in a Ginetta, that this will be the hardest thing you will drive because it’s got such little power. So you have to keep pace up, and everything’s just on that sort of knife edge.
“Whereas you get in the Toyota and it has traction control, it has ABS, it does so much of the work for you. I’m not gonna say it was easy but I was able to adapt quickly, put it that way! The team and everyone around me really gave me all the help I needed. So I think maybe going into the first round, I wasn’t 100% there, but throughout the year, I definitely got to grips with it. It was really cool.
“There was a lot of turbulence in the team. It was a little rocky to begin with but I think the team really pulled together, they tried their best, and I think the true reflection came towards the last rounds in terms of where we were. So yeah, it was hard times and I was learning a lot myself but I think we came a long way throughout the season and to end on such a high was great. I couldn’t really fault the last weekend. I’m happy with how it ended, and Jordan [Collard] was incredible. My team-mate really helped me a lot.”
As well as this, Tom was inducted into the Motorsport UK Academy earlier this year, a programme designed to help the most promising young racing drivers on these shores:
“To have that sort of brand in association with you gives you a bit of credibility. You know, anyone can become a racing driver, but to be picked for something like that is such nice recognition of what I’ve done. I really appreciate everyone who put my name forward and put me onto the programme and I can’t wait to get stuck into the course.
“We’ve days throughout the year, where we meet up in workshops and things like the Porsche Human Performance Centre. So yeah, it’ll be a great opportunity. Again, it’s sort of down to me as to what I can take out of it. I could coast through it and not turn up to the days, but I’m really going to try and push and try and take the most out of it.”
Certainly, things are looking bright for Tom but he’s well aware there are lots of challenges ahead before he gets to where he wants to be. That said, we asked him what the end goal might be for him in racing, and it’s clear some of the biggest races in motorsport is where he is aiming:
“Le Mans. 24 hour races really appeal to me and to travel the world and do what I love is the dream.
“I think if I’m able to race internationally at anything then that’d be great but if I were to pinpoint races, I’d say I’d love to race Daytona and I’d love to win Daytona – you can get a nice watch out of it!
“Le Mans, of course, would be great, and the Nurburgring as well, with the 24 hour race. So yeah, definitely down the endurance line. The new LMDh class looks great. It’d be great if I could get an opportunity to race in it.
“I do have love for GT cars because I just love the way the look. I really love the way you can see them on the road and then you see them on the track. I see an Aston Martin and I go, ‘I was just racing with that, I nearly wiped one out yesterday!’ It’s just so nice to have that connection. I definitely would like to be racing around the world with a manufacturer, hopefully.”