Northampton, England’s Ben Clucas pilots the No. 36 Kinetic Motorsports DonorsChoose.Org Kia Optima. He currently sits 7th overall in the GTS Drivers’ Championship.
How did you get into racing? When I was eight years old my Dad received a go-karting present for his birthday. I heard about it and what it was, and asked if I could have one for my birthday. For my 9th birthday I received a six-week karting course at my local indoor track. We got half an hour each week and I enjoyed it a lot, so I started doing some indoor kart racing. Most expensive mistake my mum and dad have ever made!
Do you have any superstitions? Not really. I used to use the same underwear every time I raced, but gave that superstition up pretty quickly once they needed replacing!
Favorite North American track and why? I haven’t raced at a huge number of North American tracks yet, but my favourite so far has to be Road America. It is not so much one particular bend as the whole track. There isn’t a bad corner on it and it is very enjoyable to drive. There isn’t too much run off area, which I like and it has some undulation, which means some of the corners are difficult to spot. It is the first circuit I ever race at in North America, so it holds some nice memories, as it was a good opportunity for me.
Tell us something that fans may not know about you. Other than racing I’m really into squash. I play 2-3 times a week and play in a league in the UK, as well as some county squash for my club. I’m not at a very high level, but I enjoy it and it keeps me fit.
As a race car driver, how do you manage fear, or does fear even enter your
mind before you strap into a race car? Generally fear does not come into your mind when you get into a race car. We are very lucky that we are in an age when motor racing is relatively safe. Of course something can always happen and you certainly shouldn’t be complacent, but I think there would have been a lot more fear had I been racing in the 1950s or ’60s.
Are race car drivers born or made? I very much believe they are made. I do a lot of driver coaching and I think everything can be taught. It clearly helps a lot if you start off at a young age, as you can take so much more in and quickly when you are young. As you get older it becomes harder to learn, but I still don’t believe you are born with the ability to drive race cars. It helps if you naturally have good coordination etc, but you still then need to be hard working a disciplined to try be as good as you can be.
What fuels your desire to race cars? I think I am very lucky. It is the most fun thing you can do in my opinion. To be able to call that your job makes you incredibly fortunate. I’m generally a very competitive person, and want to win everything I do. So I love the competitive nature of racing, lining up on the grid against 25-30 other guys knowing you are all trying to beat each other. The team work aspect of it is also very enjoyable, working with similarly minded people all with the same aim. There really isn’t a downside to racing cars that I’ve found!
What piece of advice would you give to someone who aspires to become a race
car driver? Never give up. It’s a tough industry where money can often influence decisions, rather than driving ability. But just keep going, keep trying and eventually you’ll get an opportunity. The earlier you can start karting the better too.
As a professional race car driver, what’s your pet peeve driving on public
roads? I don’t get too worried about driving fast or other drivers on the public road. I just view it as a way to get from A to B, and I don’t drive fast, I get all that out my system on the track. The only thing that annoys me a bit is traffic. I hate sitting in traffic and would rather driver 30 minutes out of my way than sit in a traffic jam getting stressed.