McLaren Taps Tanner Foust for Its Extreme E Electric Rally Racing Team

If someone knows how to drive a car sideways and over rough terrain, it's Foust. And his U.S. fanbase won't hurt McLaren, either.

VW

McLaren announced it was entering off-road electric championship Extreme E earlier this year, with the question of its Formula E entry option still unanswered. At least on the Extreme E side, its role is really firming up now with today's announcement that former rallycross driver, Top Gear USA host, and Hollywood stunt driver Tanner Foust will be its male racing driver.

All teams in Extreme E have two drivers who share the car across the time trial rounds. So far there's been a real mix of backgrounds from rallycross to touring car racing, W Series, and Formula E, and uh, Jenson Button even did one round. Foust brings a lot of experience in that segment, having basically made a career of going sideways. And if McLaren wants to increase its U.S. fanbase, it's a lot more straightforward to put someone like him in Extreme E than Formula One.

Extreme E

McLaren CEO Zak Brown made no secret of the fact it's hoping to bring in new fans with Foust, as part of today's announcement. 

"We are thrilled that Tanner has joined the McLaren Racing family of drivers," said 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."

Given the group has recently taken steps to sell its Applied Technology arm, while acquiring a majority stake in its IndyCar partnership with Schmidt-Peterson, it looks like it's making a concerted push to be more U.S.-focussed. And why wouldn't it be, when there's been such massive audience growth for F1 there?

McLaren

McLaren's entry starts from the 2022 season onwards when Extreme E is set to start its global Electric Odyssey again. The calendar isn't confirmed yet (and even this year's has—like every series—experienced a few hiccups) but Foust said he's looking forward to the challenge. "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."

"The concept is unique and the challenge compelling," added Foust. "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.”

Whoever will share the car with Foust will be announced sometime in the future, and she'll be McLaren's first-ever female driver.

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