Motorsport Heroes: How Kristensen went from bank clerk to F3 ace
In Motorsport Heroes, the full-length feature film by Manish Pandey now available on Motorsport.tv, four legends of our sport share their successes, failures, personal struggles and life-threatening accidents. Today we hear from Tom Kristensen, about the moment he beat fellow ‘Hero’ Mika Hakkinen’s lap record at Hockenheim.
In this clip, Kristensen recalls the struggle he had to get noticed by teams to give him a chance to display his talents – as he was working in a bank to pay the bills!
Long before he’d go on to set a new record of nine Le Mans 24 Hours victories, Kristensen says beating Hakkinen’s best F3 lap time at German GP venue Hockenheim was a moment that was both crucial to his career development and inner belief in his own talents.
“I was racing, but it was tough times,” says Kristensen. “I got a chance at Brno [in 1989] with an older car. Michael was at that race, his career was on fire.
“[Coming] from Denmark, there was nobody, the was no funding to help Danish drivers. It’s basically three years, I managed to get a job at my first application, I was a bank clerk. One time they asked me in the middle of the summer if I had a truck license, and I said ‘yeah, sure, I’m a driver’ and then I was driving the bank bus for some time around in the small cities.
“It wasn’t until the beginning of 1991, I got the call from a F3 team in Germany and I won the championship. Then in Hockenheim, I beat [Mika's] lap record from the year before. Of course my car was more sophisticated and more developed, but it meant so much to me [Mika laughs] – hey, come on!
“You guys were racing in Formula 1, I had to find anything I could, any little proof that at least I had a little bit of talent.”
Pandey, who wrote the multi award-winning Senna movie, the 111-minute film interweaves the narratives of our Motorsport Heroes, telling their stories with both archive and first-hand testimony.
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