Nancy Knapp Schilke
Actor Tom Cruise joins David Coulthard for one awesome test ride
Tom Cruise had an interesting day last week as the former race car driver took to the track at Willow Springs International Motorsports Park in a Red Bull Formula One car. The 2011 racing machine definitely was one awesome ride for the actor who once competed in SCCA and IMSA series events, and it allowed him to test out his racing skills.
Red Bull reported that Cruise was able to test drive one of their 2011 cars in the capable hands of David Coulthard, the former F1 pilot was awarded the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) presented to the Scotsman by Queen Elizabeth II in 2010. His job at Willow Springs was as the instructor for Cruise.
“Tom’s the real deal. I was surprised that he picked it up so quickly and is such an accomplished driver,” Coulthrad told RedBull.com. “His recall was incredible considering how complicated driving an F1 car is.”
Cruise and Coulthard turned speeds in the 180 mph range at the California circuit. While they were having fun at the track, the 2010 and current points leader was exploring parts of the United States, including New York City. Sebastien Vettel and the rest of the Formula One circus returns to action this coming weekend for the Belgian Grand Prix and the points leading team, Red Bull, hope that their German ace extends his points lead, along with Vettel’s Australian teammate, Mark Webber.
The person who had a blast last week was Cruise, who is on a break from the post-production work for his latest film project Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol. Cruise has not stayed away from the racing scene but this was the first time he had ever been behind the wheel of a Formula One Car.
The day started with a one-on-one instruction by Coulthard where they did some lapping around the 2.5 mile round course in a passenger car which allowed both of them to learn the racing lines. Once that was accomplished, it was time for Cruise to learn about the Formula One car and its intricacies plus the telemetry data was reviewed after a set number of shakedown laps by Coulthard around the circuit. On hand were some of the Red Bull team’s crew members from the United Kingdom.
“He’s a guy who really pushes the envelope in real life.
Days of Thunder might have been on the actor’s mind as he suited up to prepare for his turn in the Formula One car that is, without a doubt, the cutting edge of technology. Once he took the wheel of the Red Bull racing machine, Cruise felt right at home and reached a top speed of 181mph; perhaps reflecting on Top Gun except flying on the ground as he toured the circuit.
The more comfortable with the F1 car, the more his racing skills came back to him and his lap times came down. At the end of his 24 laps, he had improved his time by nearly 11 seconds. Per RedBull.com, Cruise was only four miles per under the top speed set by Coulthard.
“He’s a guy who really pushes the envelope in real life. This day was not green screened. And he thoroughly impressed me,” added Coulthard.
Even though his racing career was curtailed for his acting career, Cruise is still a racer at heart as he makes his way to race tracks, from Formula One to NASCR to MotoGP, he enjoys the world of motor sports.
Per TomCruise.com blog On the lighter side of Tom’s love of everything auto racing, Tom and ‘Knight and Day’ co-star Cameron Diaz set track records racing an economy car, (If you can believe that!), on hit British car-lover show, ‘Top Gear.’