Interview with Lucas Luhr

He is one of world's fastest racing drivers in the LMP-cars and the GT-cars and has some great victories in those racing classes. Besides victories, he has also taken several championships in ALMS and even the FIA GT1 World Championship. Of course, we are speaking about Lucas Luhr. The fast German, who is not only successful in Europe but maybe even more in the USA, talks to about his career, his future and his way to the top.

Lucas LuhrHello Lucas, most of our visitors will be familiar with the name of Lucas Luhr. Unfortunately, some of them have never heard of you. Could you give a brief introduction about yourself?
I am 33 years old and have been racing since I was 10 years old. I started in karting. I have been employed by Porsche and Audi from the age of 19 years old, having driven in Formula 3 at that age. In my career I have won the American Le Mans Series 5 times, most recently in 2012 for Muscle Milk Pickett Racing using a HPD LMP1 Car. I have also won the FIA GT1 Drivers World Championship in 2011 driving a Nissan GTR and in the past I have had many wins in Porsche at Le Mans and other international endurance events.

Some race drivers are getting involved in racing through friends or family. How did you get involved in racing? Did your parents support you from the early beginning?
Yes, I started with the support of my family; my dad raced as well and he encouraged and supported me once he knew there was no other option. This was what I wanted.

Did you started your career, like many other drivers, in karting or have you been into the cars straight away? Do you think karting will be an essential step in the career of a race driver?
Yes, I started in karting and was lucky enough to be signed by CRG as a works kart racer in the early 90’s. I moved to Italy, went to school there, worked on the shop floor at CRG and raced there karts, winning the European Championship in 1994.

Karting is the best racing school in the world, the race craft you learn and everything is so important.

During the first years of your career you have raced in single seaters (open wheelers), but you have switched to racing GT’s very soon. What are the reasons that you have not driven more seasons in single seaters?
In single seaters, we always did not have enough money, I spent one year living in a caravan outside a workshop in Snetterton, England doing Formula Ford. Then we managed to get enough money to do our own team in German F3. But I was driving the van, building the race car, doing everything myself up against the big teams. I won the Hockenheim 100 mile race and had some good results.

Then really it was over, there was no more money and one day I was in school and I got a call from Porsche asking me to test for the junior program. The next day I just walked out and went to the test. I knew this was my only chance to make a career and went for it. Porsche signed me and we had some amazing successes together, for which I will always be very grateful as I doubt I would have a career without this call from Porsche.

After driving the single seaters, you have made the step into the GT’s and LMP-cars. You have got some great results in that kind of cars, especially due to victories and championships in ALMS and FIA GT1 World Championship. What is the most significant difference between driving a single seater, a GT and a LMP-car?
With GT-cars obviously it is much heavier and needs some technique to use the weight of the car and not fight it. You need to be patient with it and not overdrive it. The modern LMP1 is a lot like a single seater in many ways. The biggest thing is that in GT/LMP you have to work with your co-drivers, make sure you have a setup that works for all the drivers and will be consistent for the long races.

Luhr racing the LMP-car of Muscle Milk Pickett Racing

If you take a look ahead, what do you think that the future will bring to you? Winning the Le Mans 24 hours will possibly be your main target, but do you have any other targets that have to be accomplished?
Yes, a win overall in the 24 Hours of Le Mans is something I would really like to achieve. I have won my class in GT, but to win overall is one of my dreams. In this era the car is so important for this to be possible, but we still have time. I am still only 33 years old and I am sure we will get the opportunity in the future.

We look at everything that is going on in motorsport, and the other race I would really like to try and win is the INDY 500. It is a huge challenge and a race where having a great car and team is essential, but also where a driver can make a difference.

For me, my main target is to keep racing at the highest levels possible and improving all the time.

The life of a race driver is tough physically and mentally. Do you have a special training programme to stay fit and to gain strength?
I work out regularly in the off season; a combination of gym/running/cycling. In the past, I have done some triathlons and this is the best challenge as it is competitive. During the season, I do some lighter work outs as with a full race schedule, this is the best form of training.

If you could change lives for a day with another race driver, who would it be?
Difficult to say that, probably someone from another era to understand more about their challenges. Maybe Ayrton Senna, I watched him and was amazed by his car control and abilities, especially in qualifying and he was very deep; a special person for sure.

From the outside, being a race driver looks like a real dream. But there are also negative points, of course. If you could take people a look at the ‘inside’ of racing, what do you think is the most negative point of being a race driver?
For me, simply the politics. But this is the same in every walk of life, in every office or company. There are a lot of travel and media commitments, but this is all part of it and really it is the best job in the world as we get to drive incredible cars, fight for race wins and championships and we get paid as well!

What would you like to say to everyone that is dreaming of a career in racing?
Chase your dream, work hard and go for it. But be realistic and try to enjoy your racing at whatever level you are competing. The market for true professional drivers is very small. But, if you have the talent and work ethic needed; the opportunities will come and if they do you have to grab them.