By: Ashley McCubbin
Tom Blomqvist made the move to the IMSA WeatherTech Championship for 2022 with Meyer Shank Racing, and came out in a big way by winning the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. The United Kingdom native recently spoke with NEWS FROM THE PITS about his thoughts on the victory, and the rest of this season.
ASHLEY MCCUBBIN: What are your thoughts looking back at the win at Daytona?
TOM BLOMQVIST: Obviously it was an amazing result, but what I think made it so special this year was last year, the team had a challenging time and it was great to start the season that way. Obviously over the off-season the team put in a lot of hard work with two new drivers on-board so they weren’t hanging about, and then to have the perfect race as we did was a testament to their hard work put in over the winter.
It was also so great to see the excitement from Mike. Pretty happy about how things went.
ASHLEY: How encouraged are you about the potential this year in seeing the speed shown in Daytona?
TOM: I’m super confident. The team has made some great steps and improved the car and the full package, which is obviously so important with things being competitive this year. Obviously, there’s not so many cars but all the cars are fast and competitive. Hopefully we can have another strong result at Sebring and catapult us towards success all season long. We’re pretty confident in our chances this year.
ASHLEY: I know you come from a European racing background, but what are some of your initial impressions of Sebring?
TOM: I’ve driven Sebring before in the past. It’s actually a pretty cool track. It’s really challenging and super tough – especially the last corner and the first corner. We had a test last week so I was able to get to know the track in the DPi and we were able to work a little bit on the car as it is very unique and bumpy. The track conditions change a lot of with the wind and temperature changes so it’s actually a challenging track to get the car to work for you at all times.
So that definitely will give us a bit of a headache in a week’s time, but hopefully we know what we need. But I do enjoy the track and the race is always one of my favorite events of the year. The spectators are always out in full force which is nice to see, and we drive into the dark which is always cool.
ASHLEY: You mentioned the size of the field not being big, but the competition being high. Based on what we saw at Daytona, how do you see things shaking out this year with the Acuras up against the Cadillacs?
TOM: It’s going to be super tight. It’s going to be full of twists and turns. The Cadillacs are very, very quick and I think Sebring is going to be a track that suits them very well. So we just have to make sure that we’re in the race. We don’t expect to win the race on pace, but with racing in America, strategy has such a big impact on the final restarts. Obviously we had a strong race and were good in the pits at Daytona, and we aim to do that at Sebring.
It’s going to be a tough race, I think, for us. We expect the Cadillacs to be very strong, but that’ll be the case all season long. Some tracks will suit them, and some tracks will suit us and we just have to make sure when they suit us that we capitalize and get the most out of it that we can. Sebring is going to be no different.
ASHLEY: How has it been for you adjusting to Meyer Shank Racing this year, and working alongside Oliver Jarvis?
TOM: I’ve really enjoyed things so far. We’ve only had one race and a couple tests, but I’m enjoying working with the guys – a bunch of great lads on the team and all super motivated. Mike is very motivated and working with the team to make them as strong as possible. Obviously, we started the season well. We couldn’t have asked for a better start to give us a lot of momentum and confidence that we can utilize going into Sebring. I’ve enjoyed it so far and hopefully we can keep building on it.
There’s always room for improvement – there’s room for improvement for me with my driving and with the car in all these areas that we can keep working on to get better through the season and win more races.
ASHLEY: Beyond Sebring, what are you most excited for in what’s to come this year?
TOM: I enjoy a lot of circuits that we’re going to. Road America and Watkins Glen are two of my favorite tracks. Road Atlanta is also pretty cool. The last race of the season is pretty neat in getting to drive again at night – I love that, and the spectators there are always super passionate. I’m really excited for those events. I’m hoping Oli and I can have a super strong season and be the champions at the end – that’s the goal.
ASHLEY: With where you are right now in your career, why do you feel the IMSA WeatherTech Championship and SportsCars is the right fit for you?
TOM: The reason I decided to join the team was with the future of SportsCar racing looking so positive and bright. Obviously, I thought it was a great opportunity. I enjoy these types of cars and get along well with these types of cars and can extract some decent performance from the car. I feel like I’m in a good place – I’m confident, I’m happy, which is so important in racing these days. The future of SportsCars is looking super bright with the LMdh coming next year and there’s no place that I’d rather be.
The IMSA WeatherTech Championship is such a strong championship at the moment and it’s going to be even stronger in the years to come, and I like being competitive. Obviously, last year in Formula E was challenging with the team that I was with but now I’m able to fight for wins and podiums again, so obviously that makes a big difference to the mentality and psychological state for the driver.
ASHLEY: So is there anything outside of SportsCars that you’d like to get behind the wheel of?
TOM: I love racing. I’d drive anything. Obviously, the focus for me at the moment is SportsCar, but I just enjoy driving racecars. I just enjoy driving cars and trying to extract performance from racecars. Even driving a bunch of different things helps you as a racing driver. It helps you adaptation to new cars and makes you better all around driver. So for me it’s important to race anything.
It’s beneficial in some shape, way, and form, and brings happiness. It’s important to see other things that I can do with my SportsCar racing, but my main priority is SportsCars and the IMSA WeatherTech Championship with Meyer Shank.
ASHLEY: Where did that passion for motorsports come from?
TOM: I grew up around the sport. My father was obviously a champion in the 80s and being surrounded by motorsports from a very young age, so I’ve always been very passionate about the sport. I’ve been driving cars since I was four or five years old and obviously I started in karting when I was young, and from that moment on, it starts off a bit of fun but I wasn’t naïve.
My father had made a career out of it himself and obviously I knew it was a possibility for myself, too, and thankfully I’ve been in a fortunate enough position that my talent was good enough to warrant a career from it. I’m very fortunate that I am able to do something that I love so much.
ASHLEY: Based on the career path that you’ve taken, what’s one piece of advice you’d offer to that next karter getting started?
TOM: I think the most important thing is to not lose faith. I had some tough years in my career early on where I didn’t think anything was going wrong. But the cream always rise to the top. It doesn’t matter how many times you get beaten down, you have to keep chipping away. I left home when I was quite young – I grew up in New Zealand but I left for Europe when I was quite young, but there were many moments I wanted to go home when things weren’t going well.
You have to just keep your head on and have full faith, confidence in your ability, and put in the hard work. When you’re young, you have to sacrifice a fair bit to focus on your racing so I think it’s super important to always be positive and don’t give up.