Louis Foster: “The goal is to be in IndyCar in 2024”

It has been a stellar year for Motorsport UK Academy athlete Louis Foster.

After moving his whole life “across the pond” to America to pursue his IndyCar dream, the 19-year-old, originally from Hampshire, enjoyed championship success at the first attempt in the highly competitive IndyPro 2000 Series.

That earned him a subsequent move to Indy Lights, the next step on the coveted “Road to Indy,” with the legendary Andretti team, and his goal of racing in IndyCar, the pinnacle of American single-seater racing. one step closer .

A graduate of the ROKiT British F4 and GB3 Championships in the UK, Foster has been nominated as a finalist for the prestigious Aston Martin BRDC Autosport Award for the second time, alongside compatriots Jamie Chadwick, Luke Browning and Ollie Bearman.

We took some time out to meet Louis from his new home in Los Angeles after the biggest year of his career so far.

Motorsport UK Q: “Louis, congratulations on a championship campaign in IP2000. Are you talking us through the process of adjusting to life on the “state side”?

Louis Nurse: “It’s my first year here in the States and it was quite a new experience for me to move away from my family. I live here alone on the west coast, it’s a seven or eight hour time difference.

“There are a lot of things to be prepared for, but at the end of the day, races are races anywhere in the world. Ultimately, you and your engineering team are still working together to build a fast racing car. For me it was pretty easy from there, once we figured it out and made our move.

“Of course there were a lot of challenges on street courses and ovals. Ovals look simple from the outside in, but once you delve into them, you realize there’s a lot more engineering behind them. There’s a lot more than meets the eye and they’re pretty scary, to be honest! It was probably recently the only time I was scared in a car.

“But that’s all part of the challenge and it’s fun to race. It made the year a lot more interesting and a lot more difficult, which makes the achievement even sweeter.”

Q: “It’s not the route Brits normally take to move up the single seater ranks. But it’s clear that you’ve structured your career around this ambition to race in IndyCar. Tell us about your trip so far…”

LF: “For me, karting was a fun weekend hobby. I competed in club races maybe ten times a year, that was me, my brother and my dad. It was nothing more. We won championships, sure, but they weren’t big national or international titles, nothing like that. Nobody really knew me in karting and I wasn’t really good either.

“Then we jumped to Ginetta Juniors. My freshman year was 2018 and my intention was to ride for three years and then maybe win the championship in my senior year. But after my freshman year I was the rookie champion, just missing out on the overall win. At that point we realized that this was a possible career path.

“The reason I went into F4 was because I couldn’t do anything else at that age, I was too young. If I had been a year older I would have no idea where I would be now. Maybe I would have raced in GT4.

“During Formula 4, I kind of knew that Formula 1 wasn’t a realistic option. It’s a dream, of course, but there’s a difference between dreams and goals that I see.

“So I postponed my goal and my dream of driving IndyCar came at a young age, in GB3. The main reason to come here is the ladder system with the “Road to Indy”. No one else is offering what they are offering with the scholarship money. This year I’ve won over $600,000 and that kind of money is invaluable to me now that I’ll be promoted to Indy Lights next year.”

Q: “So why IndyCar? What is it that fascinates you about it?”

LF: “IndyCar has some great tracks, great cars, it’s extremely diverse. I find it a lot more enjoyable to watch than F1 and it’s a ‘spec car’ the only thing they can do to give it a competitive edge is adjust the dampers. It just made a lot more sense to come to America.”

Q: “You have always adapted well to new cars, always continued after a single season and never finished worse than third overall. What’s the secret?”

LF: “My approach has always been, whenever I get into something new, that I’m a complete rookie. Especially here I didn’t go in with an ego. Pretty much everyone in America had no idea what I had done before or who I was and vice versa. I had never driven with them, I really didn’t know them.

“I had to learn everything. Every single race I’ve been in, my first time at the track, apart from a couple of venues, has been FP1. Basically you had to adapt very quickly and I would say the biggest thing about adapting to anything, be it a car or a track, is the preparation.

“I think a lot of riders, especially when they are young, tend to neglect preparation. But the most important thing is getting on the ground, so before the race I have a very strict routine of things that I go through, be it the simulator, talking to other drivers, looking through data, watching videos.

“So I get to the track knowing where my braking points are, what gear to use and so on, all the specific details, at every corner around the lap. And if I put that into practice on the track, I’m already at a very good point to be able to go even faster from there.

“But to an extent, the ability to jump in a car and be fast is driver talent. I’m not going into this with an ego, but you just have to ‘get in and drive’. You have to have the preparation, but when it comes down to it, you just have to ride it. It’s hard to describe, there’s no formula.”

Q: How much does your father pay? [ex BTCC and British GT racer, Nick Foster] help, as an independent racer?”

LF: “No one has ever asked me that! He worked with me a lot behind the scenes and developed my character massively. I look up to him and want to be what he has.

“It’s really quite funny. When I first started racing he was a bit of a coach to me because I was new at the time and he had been doing that for a couple of years with BTCC, GTs and so on. So he helped me, but then it kind of hit a switch where I knew more about racing than he did.

“So he stopped trying to tell me what to do because he realized he wasn’t that helpful in that regard. Once in a while he has some opinions that I own, but he’s super, super good at keeping my head on the ground

“A great example was in Indianapolis this year. I had the pace to win all three races but got eliminated in the first race, it would have been my first win in the States. And that messed up my mentality for the second race, I went in very hot headed, wanting to win and then I made a mistake and went too far. So that was two lost wins.

“He sat me down and said straight to me, ‘You’re an idiot, why are you doing something like that?'”. But he doesn’t do it disrespectfully, he does it in a way that I understand and I really listen to him.

“His words were: ‘You’re faster than everyone else, just wait three laps and you’ll overtake them.’ In the third race I followed that advice, was patient and after three laps I took the lead and pulled away. He’s a massive influence. I don’t think he knows how much he affects my driving, but definitely the mental side of it. Without him, what I have become as a person would not be possible.”

Q: “Congratulations on your nomination for the Aston Martin BRDC Autosport Award. Oddly enough, I suppose that means you’re going back to something for a change!”

LF: “Of course I did it last year so it’s not new to me now, I’m a bit of a seasoned veteran I guess! I’m going to go into that with the same process as most things. We’re going to do a test in a GT3 – to be honest, I sucked in the GT3 car last year.

“I was so bad; I just couldn’t hack it. I think I overdid it as I’ve ridden single seaters three years in a row and not a ‘tin roof’. Skipping 15 laps in it and having to go fast was probably a bit too much.

“If I don’t want to win the award this year then my goal is to go in and get a better understanding of how to drive a GT car because it’s just so different to what I’m used to.

“It’s a privilege to be selected, especially over here in the US and, I suspect, in a sense outside the ‘European eye’. It would be easy for BRDC, Aston Martin and Autosport to forget me because I’m not there or really in the UK. But it means a lot to me that they’re still paying attention, still caring and watching my career.”

Q: “Then let’s look to next season and another big test at Indy Lights. You are just one step away from IndyCar. What’s the game plan?

LF: “[laughs] I haven’t driven the car yet. Most of the riders have moved up, so a lot of the grid next year will be riders I raced in Indy Pro. I will be with Andretti, so the best team on the grid. I’ve got the tools behind me so I think as long as the prep is good, I’m having a good preseason in testing and we’re working hard, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be in the top three, top two or possibly win .

“The goal is to be at IndyCar in 2024. And the best way to do that is to win. So my goal is to win.”

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