Published: 06:00, 26 February 2021
Toby Trice used motor sport as a way of escaping the stress of dealing with fertility treatment but discovered he was quite quick behind the wheel. He drives high speed trains for a living and fast cars for fun but he’s also got an important message to promote, raising awareness for a subject close to his heart. He’s an ambassador for Fertility Network UK and racing is his platform to get the subject talked about.
I joined at a later age than most. I am 30 now, 28 when I joined the grid. It is a late age but it’s never too late!
When you are young, people are looking at future talents for potentially an F1 seat but I think if you can get the commercial side right as a driver, if you market them correctly through motor sport, then you are never too old to get involved in the sport.
A lot of people’s perception is that it is for the elite and for people that are rich but I am just a regular guy and so I break the mould a bit.
As long as you have a business mind and are clever with how you offer it to companies then it is a good proposition. I am just excited to make my return to the motor sport paddock this year.
I drive high speed trains for Southeastern up to St Pancras. It fits really nice with the high speed life. They are actually the same speed as the car I am going to be racing this year. The car has a top speed of 140 mph. Driving a train is a little different. Safety is obviously really important and in terms of concentration, there is a big responsibility with many people on the train and something that is hundreds of tonnes. That responsibility does make it procedural and can be mundane but it is also quite exciting knowing what you are doing. In the car it is a bit more exciting, safety doesn’t matter so much!
WHY THE LATE START?
I started karting when I was about 25-26, purely using go-karting with a friend of mine just to escape from dealing with fertility treatment.
I was going through it at the time and found it hugely stressful, it was a chance to escape with the boys and have a laugh, rather than worrying if I would ever be a dad.
I got placed third at Buckmore Park at their top-level championship, the Man of Steel hour-long endurance, which was remarkable in my first full year. I was Buckmore Park’s drivers’ driver of the year for 2018, which was voted by all drivers on track. I was very overwhelmed, it is such a prestigious thing to win.
One of those to have previously won it is a guy called Mike Conway. To be on the trophy alongside people like him brought a tear to my eye. It was a special moment. What made it even more special was that leading up to winning that trophy we had lost our second round of IVF. It meant a lot more because of it. I am turning my life around from the depression of fertility treatment and I used it in a really positive way.
When I was going through fertility treatment, there is a stigma I guess associated with it by not being able to have a child as a man, it can make you feel less of a man, it is quite common among men to feel that way. Motor sport saved my life and gave me a new purpose. I wanted to make sure I use what I do to try and break down that stigma.
Motor sports perception is quite macho, quite a bolshy sport, aggressive and exciting. I wanted to use that fun, energy and excitement to break down something that can be very difficult to talk about among men. If I can become a role model and if people see that a racing driver can talk about it then maybe others can too.
It’s been a difficult six years. Thankfully I have a great support network around me at Fertility Network UK and I am also their male ambassador and can help support other guys, which in turn helps me out, as I can also talk. It is nice to offer support to those who feel like me.
Racing definitely helps. It is also nice to raise the awareness while I am doing it. It gives me that extra determination. It is a lot more to me than just racing.
GT ACADEMY IN 2021
This is the first step onto the GT ladder. My ultimate goal is to race at Le Mans. It is a huge audacious goal but it is achievable.
The goal for me is to make my message a global thing. I want to make it onto the global platform at Le Mans so I can talk about what I am doing. The GT Academy is the first step into the GT world. It is an exciting step for me. We are a few years off Le Mans and it may be longer depending on the budget. That is a big driving factor.
From here it would be the British GT next and then once there we can start entering the European Le Mans series and then hopefully the World Endurance Championship thereafter. We are four or five years away as long as we stay on target and on budget. Funding is our biggest problem and I am working hard to try and see if there are companies that want to help support the campaign on raising awareness for male infertility.
SO FAR, SO GOOD?
It is going well, despite the global pandemic I have managed to raise a budget for this year and I feel very grateful. It was going to be a hard task.
My title sponsor this year is Railscape and they have been the biggest hand into getting me on the grid and we have other sponsors such as Resultshub.com and LogixX Pharma plus a few others, they are helping us out and so grateful. It is all down to me to make it happen, I don’t have an agent, so it has been hard work. We need to raise six figures in total and we are just a bit short of that.
We’ll be racing in a single-make series, all in the same car, it is just down to the team and driver ability. Hopefully we can get our testing done, hit the ground running and aim for the title, that is the goal this year.
Practice makes perfect. I did test a bit last year as part of the launch, it got me a chance to see what the car was like, it felt very comfy and quick, well balanced and with lots of power. We drive on road tyres so it makes it a little more difficult to drive on the limit.
I am feeling very confident, training with my PT Will Gowers. We have trained hard, my fitness is on point, it is just a case of getting in the car and prepared for the season. Hard work pays off though, right? That’s my motto.
Once we start racing we just hope we can have our spectators and sponsors there, that is what we are doing it for.
I used to watch with my grandad when I was younger and our idol was always Jenson Button, just because he was such an all-rounder.
He might not necessarily have been the most successful racing driver but he drove very smooth, could look after a car, but also off the track he was very much a gentleman and I have got a lot of time for that. He is a guy I look up to and partly why we run the 22 as well! (Jenson was the 2009 Formula One World Champion in car number 22).
He competed at Buckmore when he was younger, along with the likes of Lewis Hamilton. Many F1 drivers have come from racing on that track, because it is such a testing track from a driver perspective, and if you can drive Buckmore Park quickly you can pretty much go anywhere and drive quickly. It is a good circuit for that reason.
It is nice to have had that track 40 minutes to an hour from my house. It was what myself and my friend Russ called home. It was the place we escaped from the stresses of what we were dealing with in life.
I have since driven at Brands Hatch, having been there as a spectator for a number of years. To race there is stunning, a stunning track, a great circuit. To be the other side of the fence is certainly an overwhelming, pinch me moment.
Racing is so addictive. You can’t beat that heart flutter and the rush of adrenalin you get when the lights go out.
It’s such an amazing feeling.