Tom Onslow-Cole

The saloon racing ace who has one eye on a helicopter – and the other on his favourite watch

The 2006 Renault Clio Cup champion has been in the British Touring Car Championship since 2007. Now a Casio Edifice ambassador, he has picked up seven race wins and has recently moved to Airwaves Racing in a bid to win the championship in 2014.

Who’s been your biggest inspiration?
“It’s quite difficult to say because a lot of my heroes when I was younger are in the sport that I’m now doing. Unfortunately, when you have to compete against your heroes they are no longer heroic!”

Did you always want to race in touring cars rather than Formula 1?
“Yes, I wanted to go into saloon car racing because the racing is a lot better, there’s more excitement. We’re fairly well known for running side by side and often closer than that. The paint-swapping is what makes the competition so great. It’s an extra challenge over formula racing.”

How do you unwind after the season?
“I really wish I could unwind, but unfortunately the off-season seems to be just as busy as when I’m racing. As soon as racing finishes I’ll get a few weeks to let the dust settle and then it’s straight back into the winter training programme. The business side of it is even more time-consuming than that. Racing at the moment is a year-on-year deal, so you go back to contract negotiations and sponsorship talks. That keeps you busy.”

Talking of sponsors, how long have you been with Casio now?
“My relationship has been going since 2010. It’s grown nicely every year and it’s a fantastic brand to be involved with. It’s a cool, young brand and a heavy-hitter in terms of brand power.”

Why is it that watch brands and motor racing go so well together?
“I think the synergy is very easy. Motor sport is not just about the lap time, every part of it seems to be governed by time – my whole life runs to a very fast pace.”

What’s your favourite travel destination?
“So far it’s been Cancún in Mexico. You have to be careful when you go, though. If you want a relaxing holiday don’t go on Spring Break…”

If you had to choose another career what would you have done?
“I think I would have done something entrepreneurial. Outside motor sport I have a few businesses – I have a consultancy company and an import/export company. I think I would have followed those further. I was very fortunate when I was younger as I had an internet company that I created with my dad, which funded quite a large portion of my first few years as a top-level touring car driver. I’ve never been one who enjoys working for someone else. Having said all that, I might just have been poor!”

What other interests have you got outside racing?
“Business is definitely one of them and I follow that very closely. I am now very involved in motor racing and not just on the driving side. I now work for the UK governing body on their academy for young drivers. I do a lot of coaching and am now back at university at the moment doing a Masters degree in elite performance coaching.”

What’s been your most indulgent purchase?
“I would love to sit here and tell you that it’s a small island off the coast of Jamaica, a yacht and a helicopter, but it’s probably a house. Although I do have a remote-control helicopter – does that count?”

What possession could you not live without?
“With my lifestyle it would have to be my watch.”

You’re given £10,000 to spend all at once – what would you buy?
“Can I use it for finance? I might go after that yacht.”