Blomqvist getting to grips with the physical challenge of IndyCar

Tom Blomqvist had no problems wrestling IMSA GTP and LMP2 cars around the world, but with his sudden nomination to compete in the NTT IndyCar Series, the Briton realized the physical demands placed on him were unlike anything he’d previously experienced.

With team owners Mike Shank and Jim Meyer nominating the 30-year-old to move from their IMSA program to a full-time role in their No. 66 Honda Indy car, Blomqvist used the offseason to transform his workout routine and focus on building the upper body strength required to overpower the steering wheel which, unlike in IMSA, does not have power steering to assist in the turning the car.

More than 4500 pounds of downforce can be applied to an Indy car on road and street courses, and to ensure muscle endurance and fatigue wasn’t an issue, Blomqvist took his lithe 143-pound frame and added nine pounds of muscle to reach 152 lbs as he arrives in St. Petersburg.


“It was such a shock to the system the first time; I think I underestimated it,” Blomqvist told RACER. “I did not expect to be dropped partway through my IMSA campaign into IndyCar, and in sports cars, it actually pays to be on the lighter side because not every team can meet the weight limit there, so the lighter you are as a the driver, it’s just free lap time. And I’m not a big guy from the start; I’m quite a slim dude.

“I’ve put in more work on my torso and arms to bulk up for what the Indy car asks of you, and the biggest thing for me is just getting in so many calories if you want to put on like muscle mass. You obviously have to work hard in the gym and stuff like that, but equally, in doing so you need to eat! The gym part has been easy. The hardest thing was getting the calories in.”

If Blomqvist needs to continue gaining muscle, he’ll do so in concert with a new addition to his diet that isn’t fun to consume.

“I take these shakes that are 1200 calories, which make me feel gross, but that’s the way to get the food in without doing big meals, and worked for me,” he said. “I started doing that for a month and slowly started to put on weight until I got to nine pounds. For someone like me who doesn’t weigh a lot in the first place, it’s pretty good. But I’ve still got to keep chipping away at it because I plateaued recently.”

Pounding the pavement at Sebring verified for Blomqvist the benefits of his off-season bulk-up. Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment

His first test in an Indy car came in late 2022 when MSR gave him a run on Sebring’s short course. Returning to test there last week after his IndyCar-specific physical changes produced a welcome confirmation.

“It was quite cool going back to Sebring and seeing where I’ve came since the very first time I drove the car; it’s night and day difference, which obviously gives me a lot of confidence on that side of things,” he said. “But nothing prepares you like driving. You obviously can do a global increase in muscle mass, working on the muscles you typically use, but the driving is what makes the final gains.

“But I felt so much better and didn’t feel like it was a limitation anymore. I’m just gonna keep improving as the season goes on, anyway. These are probably the most physical racing cars in the most physical racing series out there. It’s a physical beast.”

Story originally appeared on Racer