Tom Blomqvist says it doesn’t bother him when people ask about his father instead of his own fast-rising racing career. I don’t believe him, but that’s what he said.
Blomqvist, 22, was born in Britain but raised in New Zealand from the age of six. He’s currently making an impression in the fast and furious European DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) series with BMW Motorsport after successful stints in Formula 3 and Formula Renault. In fact, in 2010 he became the youngest-ever driver to win the British Formula Renault Championship, at age 16. Plenty to talk about there, then.
But he is also the son of Stig Blomqvist, the legendary Swedish rally driver who won the World Championship in 1984 and has competed with Audi, Ford, Peugeot, Nissan, Saab and Skoda. Yes, he’s the actual Stig who inspired the pretend one from a niche television show called Top Gear.
Tom Blomqvist is on holiday in New Zealand for the summer and was at Hampton Downs as a guest of BMW New Zealand this week answering quite a lot of annoying questions about his father. From me.
His Kiwi upbringing was the result of a split between his father and mother: his mother is British but was raised in NZ, so when the Blomqvist marriage ended she headed back here with Tom, age six, and his brother.
Stig naturally spent plenty of time in NZ and recognition of the rally icon at the Mount Wellington go-kart track in Auckland one day was the catalyst for Tom’s circuit-racing career.
“We were there watching, somebody recognised my dad and offered my brother and I a drive in a kart,” explains Tom Blomqvist. “Within two days I had my own.”
He didn’t get the rallying bug then? “Not really. When I was little I was into sliding around on dirt, because I was watching videos of my dad and he was still competing a bit then. In fact, I almost started quad-bike racing when we moved to NZ. But then I discovered karts.”
In 2009 he decided to go back to Europe and carve out a career in motor racing: “I just kept pushing my father to let me take that next step.” He stayed with dad for a year and competed in Formula Renault in Sweden, then moved to Britain in 2010 and lived with family friends in his old home town to tackle the same series there. He won the championship.
It hasn’t all been plain sailing. He made the natural progression to F3 but endured a massive accident in 2011 where he a broke a lumbar vertebra. But the 2014 season he had worked his way to the top, winning six races and standing on the podium 15 times.
The plan was to make it to F1, but Tom Blomqvist admits that no matter how much talent you have, that dream is not always realistic: “You soon realise what’s involved in making that happen. You have to have really solid [financial] backing. Without that, it’s hard to achieve.”