2rd3265 02012023 2023 02 02

A Star is Born: Tom Blomqvist

The Last 12 Months Have Revealed a Hidden Gem

By Tony DiZinno


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Nearly a decade ago in the 2014 Formula 3 European Championship, three young drivers combined to win 25 of 33 races and swept the top three in points.


Two of them made it to Formula 1 by 2016. The third embarked on a different career odyssey.


Esteban Ocon won that championship. Max Verstappen finished third.


And Tom Blomqvist finished second.


If ever there was a doubt about the talent possessed by the British-born Swedish son of rally legend Stig Blomqvist, look no further than the top competitors he raced against in that single junior season.


So how, then, has the 29-year-old’s star risen so much only in the last year since joining Meyer Shank Racing in the top-level prototype class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship?


It takes a second to reflect on Blomqvist’s journey, which has been an unusual path toward the top.


He raced Formula E cars, DTM touring cars and GT cars, including a full season in the WeatherTech Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) class with BMW M Team RLL in 2019.


But through either tough luck or adverse circumstances, he never finished better than fifth in points in any single season.


A breakthrough 2021 season racing Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) cars in Europe and Asia, downforce-type cars that more closely mirrored his junior open-wheel programs, quickly reestablished Blomqvist on the map.


Arguably his biggest “wow” moment came in defeat, when he lost to another LMP2 competitor in a photo finish at that year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.


He finished second in that year’s FIA World Endurance Championship and emerged as a top-flight prototype candidate as IMSA teams readied for the final season of Daytona Prototype international (DPi) competition and the launch of the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) era.


Mike Shank then made a call that’s changed both individuals’ trajectories since an initial test at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta in the fall of 2021.


“I started looking at his numbers and I’m like, ‘We should test this guy,’” Shank said.


“He got in the car and just slayed it. I called (Jim Meyer, team co-owner), I said, ‘I’ve got our guy. There’s no question about it.’”


Meyer echoed the thoughts, saying, “I don’t even know who this guy is. (Shank) goes, ‘Leave it to me,’ and then literally one minute later he said, ‘We’re done. We have who we need.’”


From a strong first impression to an even stronger 2022, Blomqvist emerged as perhaps the DPi driver of the season with a run of form few saw coming.


With three poles, bookend wins at the Rolex 24 At Daytona and Motul Petit Le Mans and the last DPi championship (co-driving with Oliver Jarvis), Blomqvist was dynamite a year ago. He proved his quiet 2019 IMSA GTLM campaign didn’t accurately reflect his potential.


#60: Meyer Shank Racing W/Curb-Agajanian, Acura ARX-06, GTP: Colin Braun, Tom Blomqvist, Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud

His 2022 Rolex 24 drive revealed a star turn, but his 2023 Rolex 24 was perhaps even better given the newness of the GTP formula.


With Rolex 24 qualifying returning to the traditional format of fastest single lap, a red flag left Blomqvist with one lap to set a flyer on new tires – and he delivered. In the race itself, he managed to set the 10 fastest single laps.


He anchored the No. 60 Acura ARX-06 he shared with new recruit Colin Braun along with IndyCar aces Simon Pagenaud and Helio Castroneves en route to Meyer Shank’s second – and Acura’s third – straight Rolex 24 win.


What sayeth the man himself? Humility comes first for the soft-spoken driver who just is focused on the job at hand.


“Obviously I have to thank the team for putting the faith in me for both those parts,” Blomqvist said.


“I think what’s so special about this team is, we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers.”


It seems his bosses will have to provide the kudos.


“We love Tom. He’s the real deal, isn’t he? Immensely talented, super smart, and on it,” said David Salters, president of Honda Performance Development (HPD), which develops the Acura.


“He reminds me a little bit when (Robert) Wickens came into IndyCar out of DTM,” Shank reflected. “He truly believes he’s the fastest guy out there, and he proved it tonight.”


“Who can forget his qualifying run last week? It was incredible, just an incredible story,” Meyer added.


“We’re thrilled to be in the Tom Blomqvist business.”