David Higgins has made an elite racing career out of driving very quickly in very small cars. Away from the bigger venues of NASCAR and Formula One, Higgins has flourished as a multi-time Kart champion and reigning Rally America National Champion.
Racing since the age of 5 in his native UK, he currently drives for the Subaru Rally Team, winning three of six events last year. Higgins also competes in the Summer X-Games and will return to its downtown LA rally course this summer.
Higgins won the 1997, 1999 and 2002 British Rally Championships, as well as the SCCA ProRally Championship in America in 2002 and 2003.And, in 2011, Higgins set the new record up Mount Washington in New Hampshire during the Climb to the Sky event in his specially set-up Subaru Impreza.
Crave Online caught up to the master rally man in hope of stealing some insight into what keeps a speed addict moving.
Crave Online: When did you get your start racing as a child? Can you remember how you responded to speed as a kid?
David Higgins: I started when I was 5 years old racing BMX bikes before moving to Motor bikes at age 8. Then Kart racing at 10 years old. When it came to the karts, it was all I could think of, and I remember the feeling I got when I drove it for the first time. I grew up with rally cars as my parents and grand parents where all rallying. The smell of the fuel and vibration of the race cars or karts is what sticks in my mind and the thrill of being able to push to the limit.
Crave Online: So many pro drivers start young. Do you think an early start is essential to develop the necessary instincts, vision, etc.?
David Higgins: I do think it is important to start young but there is also a risk of getting burnt out before you are ready to hit the pro ranks. One of the biggest problems today is people start off in motor sport aiming to go pro, and I think this is the wrong way. You should start it due to passion and wanting to compete. If you become good enough, then look at trying to make the next step.
I see so many drivers at the rally school who have a plan to be a pro before they even drive or do a single event.
Crave Online: Would you let your kids get into racing professionally?
David Higgins: Yes, but only if they wanted to do it and were good enough. It’s a very hard job with no security. But the highs and very high but lows are so very low.
Crave Online: Do pro drivers respond to fear differently? Or do they block out the possibility of mistakes?
David Higgins: I think pro drivers all know the risks, but trust in their ability to cope maybe that bit better. I think you need some element of fear to keep you focused. I am sure I am not the only driver who thinks this way, but the fear of not winning is far worse than the fear of crashing.
Crave Online: Who else on the rally track do you watch out for out there? Are there certain drivers you consider a threat?
David Higgins: I treat all drivers as a threat. But in Rally America, Antoine (Le’Estage) is a big threat as we are so similar as drivers.
Crave Online: You're one of the top rally drivers in the world. Are there any other forms of racing you'd take on?
David Higgins: I love Rally X and that is something I want to do more of in the future, I have also won eight Kart racing championships and still race a little now. So any track action is good. I love all forms of motor sport and love the wheel to wheel action as much as the battle against the clock and elements of rallying.
Photo Credit: Lars Gange | subaru.com/rally