Luke Woodham is a very talented 29 year old driver who has progressed from working as a motorcycle mechanic to a professional drift racer in just a few years. Luke has risen from relative obscurity to scoring multiple titles in the Gymkhana GRiD European Gauntlet Series, as well as podiums in the British Drift Championship. The series is coming to Insight TV from April 14th
FCM: It’s great to find out that you are an ordinary bloke, one of us.
Yes that’s right, I am no different to anyone else, but after a lot of hard work I’m now a racing driver. I like to be able to reach out to people because with Formula One you can’t get near them. If you can connect with the crowd and the kids that’s great.
So you are completely self-taught?
I don’t come from a motorsport background at all, I come from a motorbikes, which is where I started out. I had great support from Dad at every stage. My family has always been into racing and I remember the house being full of relatives being passionate about all sorts competition. My dad was a great influence, always fixings his own cars. That led to me becoming a technician and then a mechanic. I went on to build my own cars with friends and my dad of course.
Learning to drive in a B&Q car park what was that like?
Potentially it was dangerous, so I had to make sure that I did it late at night when they were shut and no one was there. What I tried to do was keep the car as quiet as possible, so if I did donuts I would not smoke the tyres. That helped me to be good even though I was being bad, it just wasn’t worth annoying the neighbours. I found that I could be extra quick if I used just a bit more control. Then I went on to do a fair bit of drifting and it sort of snowballed from there.
Gymkhana coming to Insight TV will certainly raise your profile so as a champion, what sort of effect will it have?
I have never been busier. I’ve been doing lots of radio and TV interviews with the BBC, Sky news and exposure is certainly going to help, we just need more people to realise what a great spectacle Gymkhana is.
How different is your car compared to the Free Car Mag hatchback?
There is a lot more power of course, plus a bigger turbo, but it is still a 2.0 litre engine. I am not hunting for more power, I might have 400bhp but it has to be instantly responsive. I also want plenty of grip, so there is different suspension, wider wheels and the car is lower. Other than that there are better brakes and different gearbox. Really, what you can do to a car is almost endless.
Lots of people fall asleep during Formula One and by contrast Gymkhana is a great spectacle, do I need to ask why?
The secret with the racing is to keep it short and sweet. The pyrotechnics, the lights and lasers make it so different from any other race series. You are concentrating hard the whole time so if you clip a barrel that makes all the difference. So everyone is on the edge of their seats including us as drivers. It is vital to pay attention because although the tracks are short you can’t afford to slip up. Gymkhana is raw, edgy and always exciting. That sets it apart from every other motorsport. There are no boring bits!