Following in the footsteps of his older brother George, Nottingham’s Tom Gamble entered the racing world as an eight year old in a go-kart. Fast forward thirteen years, the 21-year-old now competes in the GT World Challenge series, has tested a McLaren Formula 1 car, and has raced in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He tells us all about what it’s like living life in the fast lane…
Hi Tom! Firstly, could you just explain what the GT World Challenge is, for those who are unfamiliar?
It’s a GT series, consisting of only GT3 cars. Pretty much every major car manufacturer has a GT car that is eligible, and I race the McLaren 720 GT3.
How did your relationship with McLaren come about, and what does your role as a McLaren factory driver involve?
This year is my first year as a McLaren factory driver, which basically means that I’m contracted to the team. I do a lot of work for them, developing their newest and current race cars before they release them to the customer teams. I’m also always on standby for them in case they are ever in need of a driver!
How did you get to this point in your career and what categories did you race in previously?
I started my career in karting at about eight years old. I progressed up the karting ladder and began racing in Europe when I was about twelve. I eventually moved into Ginetta Juniors at age fourteen, where I was crowned champion. Then, I took the step to British F3 [now known as GB3] but sadly that was the end of my single seater career, as I didn’t have the financial backing to take the next step. But I did win the McLaren Autosport BRDC award at the end of that year  and I was lucky enough to get a Formula 1 test with the team.
You raced on a lot of the UK tracks in your early career. What is your favourite UK track to race on and why, and how do the UK tracks differ from the European ones you race on now?
You normally find the UK tracks are a bit more ‘old school’ - there’s not as much room for error and they are usually not as long as some of the tracks in Europe. I would say Silverstone is probably my favourite, as I love high speed corners and I always seem to have good results there.
Your brother is also a professional racing driver, who currently competes in the British Touring Car Championship. Did he get you into racing in the first place?
Yeah, it was my brother who originally inspired me to start racing when I was kid, as I used to go and watch him race. He actually sacrificed a lot of his own racing to help me out in go karting - he was my mechanic back in the day!
It’s quite rare for the 24 hours to go to plan with no issues, but this one did!
You competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans this summer, which was your second time competing in what is one of motorsport’s most iconic races. How did that car differ to the GT3 car you usually drive?
I competed in a category called LMP2, which stands for Le Mans prototype. These are much faster than GT3 - about twenty seconds a lap faster around the eleven kilometre circuit - and they look a lot different, too.
Unfortunately things didn’t quite go to plan since you didn’t manage to finish the race, but how was the experience, and how did it differ from the first time around?
Yeah, Le Mans didn’t go to plan, sadly. It was a shame we never got to show our potential in the race. The first time I raced there, I was in the GTE category, and this time I was in LMP2, so it took some adjusting at the beginning. But it’s a great race and there was an incredible atmosphere with so many fans there.
Most recently, the 24 Hours of Spa went more smoothly for you, and you won the race in your category. How are you feeling following the win?
The 24 hours of Spa was amazing, I really enjoyed the race - it was actually my first time doing it. The team and my teammates did a fantastic job and everything just fell in place. It’s quite rare for the whole 24 hours to go to plan with no issues, but this one did, thankfully!
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