Four-time US rallycross champion Tanner Foust will form the male half of McLaren’s driver line-up when it enters Extreme E next year.
Foust’s female team-mate will be announced at a later date for McLaren’s first-ever off-road racing program, and first all-electric effort too.
“We are thrilled that Tanner has joined the McLaren Racing family of drivers,” said McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown.
“He is a top-class off-road competitor with a wealth of experience and a winning record. Alongside his driving prowess he’s a fantastic personality, who will help us connect with new fans around the world and bring the purpose and important messages of Extreme E to the fore.”
In joining the team, Foust becomes the seventh American – alongside Dan Gurney, Peter Revson, Carl Williams, Gordon Johncock, Johnny Rutherford, and Oliver Askew – to represent Mclaren at a factory level.
“To be able to race for McLaren is every driver’s dream and the opportunity to compete for the team in this innovative and imaginative racing series makes it even more special,” said Foust.
“The concept is unique and the challenge compelling. It will enable me to draw on all my experience and skills, while being part of a positive cause addressing key issues for our planet and society.”
Foust was originally on track to work in the medical field, even obtaining a degree in molecular biology, but with summers spent driver coaching and working as a mechanic, his career focus soon shifted and he’s been one of the US’ most prominent racing and stunt drivers since the mid-2000s.
He has a record 24 event wins at the top level of US rallycross, and as well as winning the Rally America RallyCar RallyCross title in 2010, the first two Global Rallycross crowns in 2011-12, and the final Americas Rallycross championship in 2019, Foust was also the first (and so far only) American to win rounds of both the European and World Rallycross championships.
Away from rallycross, Foust has two Rally America victories to his name, is a two-time Formula Drift champion, a four-time X Games gold medallist in Rally, Super Rally, and Gymkhana, a multiple world record holder and a TV and movie stunt driver. He also fronted the American incarnation of Top Gear alongside Adam Ferrara and Rutledge Wood from 2010-2016.
More recently Foust has competed at Pikes Peak in a Porsche and the Mexican 1000 off-road race in a modified all-electric Volkswagen ID. 4
While a lot of talk in recent years might’ve been about McLaren’s Papaya orange, in signing Foust it’s struck gold.
Not only does it have someone who’s hugely versatile, they’ve got someone who’s hugely marketable too. The US is McLaren’s biggest market, accounting for almost half of its road car sales in 2019 and over a third last year, but it’s made no secret of its desire to increase its hold on America.
McLaren recently announced the acquisition of a controlling interest of the IndyCar team it’s sponsored since 2020. Now to go along with its American race team, it has an American driver (albeit placed elsewhere in the company), that can not only appeal to the existing US market base but a younger demographic, as well as the European one too – Foust of course was one of the first US racers to compete in Europe in his chosen field.
But this isn’t just about marketing. You could put a paper bag over Foust’s head and he’d still be a good signing.
While some teams in Extreme E have opted for top rally, rallycross and touring car drivers, Foust’s competed – and won – in a variety of different disciplines. Much like the two male drivers in the top two spots in the standings with their respective teams.
While Foust might not have the FIA titles of Johan Kristoffersson and Sébastien Loeb, that’s more of a consequence of him not running full seasons in Europe. There’s no denying he’s definitely cut from the same cloth.
People love to get all misty eyed about the golden era of motorsport, where teams would win on Sunday, then sell on Monday. McLaren can expect to do exactly that with its latest star signing.
Now it just needs to find a Molly Taylor 2.0 or another Cristina Gutiérrez and we could be talking about another Formula 1-derived Extreme E team fighting for the title a year from now.