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Driver Dreams

Build

By Thomas Kruger

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Editor’s note: What little boy isn’t enamored with the idea of going fast? Thomas Kruger turned that childhood desire into a place in the auto industry. Now, through his 2016 Subaru Impreza WRX, he’s meeting some of his childhood heroes and inspiring a new generation to go fast.

 




I've always been into cars and things that move fast since I was a little boy. I just wanted to drive, move fast, and explore. Vehicles were my gateway into that lifestyle. The older I got, I moved from go-karts to quads and dirt bikes until I was able to finally get into cars. I've had many cars including 5.0 Mustangs to Honda Preludes over the years.

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Racing was a little distant, as I didn't know any racers personally, but going to car shows and events allowed me to talk to people, ask questions, and dream of one day being able to build not only my dream car, but to be able to race it on a track.

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Because I was into cars, I worked my way through the sporting goods industry, to manufacturing sales of car racks, to finally my holy grail: Subaru. Now, I'm managing Dive N' Surf (home of Body Glove) so that I can go back to school and finish my degree in business, but I still work with Subaru Pacific (Torrance, CA) and represent them in the community and outside events.

 


 

I bought my Subaru Impreza WRX because this car has been proven in the World Rally Cross and Global Rally Cross circuits. Since I was a little kid, I watched Colin McRae, Petter Solberg, Travis Pastrana, Bucky Lasek, and David Higgins race the WRX. I was finally able to meet some of them through Subaru and my build.

On my WRX, I love the AWD coupled with the boxer motor the most. I've had RWD muscle cars and FWD sports cars from the ‘90s, but I felt they didn't fit what I wanted to get out of the car. Traction is probably the most important thing I've focused on since I discovered just how important it really is. My build has followed that idea, by pairing the best performing street tires with Subaru’s legendary AWD system.

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I'm currently riding on BFGoodrich g-Force Rival S performance tires. With the Rival S, I wanted quick warm-up time and a superior tread pattern. Coupled with some of the best sidewall technology on the market, I haven't had a better high performance tire. I also have a full Stage 2+ package on the car with just about all the support mods.

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When everything is said and done, I'm planning on having the car geared for a fun day at the track. I finally got to take the Subaru out to a dirt track and had an absolute blast driving it how it was intended to drive, but the place I love to drive it the most would be Angeles Crest Highway and the Pacific Coast Highway.

I drive with SoCal Lateral G, which is a group of car enthusiasts who appreciate just about anything with a motor and 4 wheels that goes fast. They are based out of Angeles Crest Highway which is some of the best driving and photogenic places in California. They are welcoming and do fun field trips to iconic locations and events happening in SoCal. One thing I like most about this group — outside of the epic driving we do — is that they are believers in safety and having fun while obeying Mr. Law. They also hold regular events at the local tracks where members can let loose in a fun, safe environment.

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But in addition to driving for fun, I also bring this car to local events and charities for the Mattel Hot Wheels Cycling Team. There, I hand out toys to kids and give back to the dream that I grew up with since my first Hot Wheels car.






To see more of Thomas' Subaru, follow him on Instagram at @tkruger7. 

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Nice choice. Rival S is the go to tire here in Houston TX for all my autocross clubs.
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Related Pit Crew Answers

How do I become a successful professional driver?

ACP

Q: How do I become a successful, professional driver?

A: That's a very difficult question to answer. A lot of top drivers in the world had a family connection or patron that got them into motorsports. Of the ones who built their careers totally on their own, there are a thousand different stories.

I know guys who started out as car jockeys at a local dealer until they could convince the dealer owner to sponsor them in a race; guys who scraped pennies together to go through a driver development program like Skip Barber; and even guys who got in through winning at car driving video games and getting the chance to try their skills in a real car.

Race driving is such an improbable career and so many people fail. The only way to possibly succeed is to absolutely love it, believe in yourself, and never give up. Never. Never.

All the successful one drivers share a few traits: they are 100% determined; they have passion and confidence; and they are quick to spot an opportunity and jump on it. If you don't, someone else will.

What does it mean to be "smooth"?

Terry Earwood

Q: What does it mean to be "smooth"?

A: A huge part of "being smooth" is literally how your hands and feet adjust the controls. The first time I rode with my current ex-wife, after a few miles in her Durango, I asked how many throttle pedals or cables she had replaced in the last 6 months, for she was on and off the gas 17 times every 30 seconds! (I actually timed it!)

It was as if she was thinking, "Here’s some gas, let’s see how far this shot goes.” She'd coast a minute, pop the gas again, etc.

Good news/bad news. She thanked me profusely for pointing that out (I’m joking), but she did clean that up!

Instead, she swapped it for "steering response!" I would literally reach over and grab the wheel to show her we did not have to saw at the wheel every 3 feet.

It was a lot like popping the gas pedal: "Let’s steer right, oops too much, let’s go left!” So I advised we go back to popping the gas, since power steering pumps are more expensive than throttle cables. She actually was a pretty good driver, awesome with a manual tranny, but has now moved on to another driver coach. Or whatever. We’re still friends.

I'll also never forget a lesson my Dad taught me: "Pretend you have a nearly full glass of water on the dashboard. Be smooth enough to never slosh out any water.” My Dad had great cars, from Lincolns to Porsches to Jaguars, and he never ever put a scratch on one the 71 years he drove. And he drove quickly. We always compared “elapsed time, from say, Atlanta to Sebring. He was smooth, because he loved to drive, so he paid attention to details.

What's your favorite stunt driving story?

ACP

Q: What’s your favorite stunt driving story?

A: I went to Eastern Europe this year to do stunts on a spy film. When I got there, I learned that, instead of doubling an actor, I would be driving a specially-built car from the back seat while the star sat in the front seat and pretended to drive.

The stunt was a high-speed, reverse-180 down a narrow European street. So there I am, crunched down in the rear seat with a second steering wheel, pedals, and gearshift, wearing a ninja outfit so the cameras don't see me. Meanwhile, one of the sexiest female stars in the world was leaning back against my knees as I'm whipping the car backwards at 50mph. It's at times like that you absolutely have to be confident that you're going to nail the stunt!

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