Keep Your Foot Down
An interview with Ferrari World Champion Marco Pulcini
Home to prestigious motor races and automobile enthusiasts, Monaco is also home sweet home for Ferrari Challenge World Champion Marco Pulcini. The man behind Il Tricolore Taz-Mania’s helmet maneuvered to give us an exclusive and inspiring interview about his trajectory.
What were your most beautiful memories as a child?
My best childhood memories would probably be going to school in London. Moving from Italy to London as a child and hanging out with people from multicultural backgrounds was a super important experience for me as a kid.
Who has been the biggest inspiration in your life?
My parents. My dad is a guy who fought all his life to do well and has a very strong and determined character. My mother is the anchor of my family. Whenever we had difficult moments, she kept the family together. She always told us to remember our values and where we came from.
Tell me of the moment you realized you would like to become a race driver.
I’ve always wanted to be one, but it was not until four years ago that I had the opportunity to test drive a race car and it was love at first sight.
How was your journey to becoming a race driver?
We went to an event, and they let us drive a race car, and I was pretty good, so I was offered to get started. We decided to start by doing one race, and that race went well. We decided to go for the whole championship, and that just escalated from there.
What goes through your mind when you are racing?
I am not really thinking about external factors. There is no thought of what could happen negatively to me. You just focus on what you have to do while you are driving. People might think that racing is just turning the steering wheel and pressing two pedals, but a lot more comes into play when racing. There are cars behind you, cars in front of you, and you have different weather conditions, tire and fuel management, so many variables, and you have to, with time and experience, manage all of them, and it’s an amazing feeling.
Tell me about your mental preparation before a race.
There isn’t any mental training you do to train for a race because mental strength is something you build with time and experience. The most important thing in any competition is knowing that what you’ve done outside the race track is one hundred and ten percent what you had to do. So many things come into play that differentiates a good athlete from a great athlete in terms of training, sleep, body recovery, no overtraining, and muscle recovery. A race can finish in ten minutes, or it can be completed after you win it. Anything can happen, but as long as you show up prepared, there’s not much else you need to do.
Tell me about your physical preparation and routines.
I train six times a week. There is off-season training which is when you are not competing. In the off-season, you mostly build strength to prepare for the season. When the season starts, you don’t really have that much time to spend at the gym because you are on race tracks. The plan Ferrari gave me is to train six times a week and I do cardio on four of those days. I have choices from cycling, running, and swimming, and I have high-intensity training at the gym twice a week, mixed with more strength training. I also have ice baths three times a week because that is very important for muscle recovery and mental strength. Cold therapy, which involves staying submerged in four degrees water for two or three minutes, helps build mental strength and reduces inflammation in the body. All these things help the body stay active and sharp.
Please walk me through October 8th, 2022.
The race starts, and when the race begins, there is always some drama in the first lap because the cars are all very close and touching each other. On turn three or four, two cars in front of me collided and slightly went to the left, so to avoid them, I had to go off track and back on again. Off the track, you often have gravel, so coming back in, my tire had a small puncture which was not severe, but the tire was slowly losing pressure.
I continued because, in the first lap, you’re fighting, people want to pass you, and you want to pass others and maintain your position, so we got to the straight, and I was pulling seventh gear, and my tire opened, I crashed into the wall at 280 kilometers per hour and flipped three times. I didn’t pass out, but I couldn’t see well from my left eye for about fifteen minutes which really scared me, but other than that, I’m blessed because I didn’t have any broken bones or severe damage.
On October 30th, 2022, twenty-two days after this scary accident, you won first place, became World Champion, and took home the Ferrari Challenge Trophy. How did you do that?
You never know how a race might go, but you go there with a strong mentality and try to beat other people. I had determination, I wanted to win, I stayed focused and (with a laugh) I kept my foot down.
What was the most exciting moment in your career so far?
The most exciting moment in a negative way was the accident I had in Mugello. Having to fight mentally through what happened to me after the accident because the first thought I had was, ‘I am not going to do this anymore,’ and having to push through that was the most amazing thing that ever happened to me, which made me stronger.
Definitely, coming out of that alive was a blessing, and two weeks after that, I won the world title in my category, which was very emotional for me.
What makes a race driver great?
Determination. That is not letting go when times are rough and being humble.
What are your professional plans for 2023?
I have 16 races, so I plan to win this year’s championship.
Who is the best race driver of all time?
I have a couple of favorites; Ayrton Senna and Schumacher.
What would you say to someone dreaming of becoming a race driver?
What I wish for a kid becoming a race driver is having the passion to do well. As a race driver, you will be away from home and family many days out of the year. It’s a difficult environment for kids because it’s extremely competitive and rough at times. You really have to have determination, passion, and a supportive family that pushes you to keep going.
How would you like to be remembered after you are gone?
I hope that won’t be anytime soon, but I’d like to be remembered as someone who spread good energy, wasn’t too selfish, and remained a good person.
Is there anything else you’d like to add to our conversation?
Yes. When you read that anything is possible, it truly is. If you put your mind to it, if you dedicate the time and stay committed, I think that anyone can do it.
The beach or the mountains? – The beach.
Favorite Spot in the World? – Porto Cervo in Sardegna
Gelato or Tiramisu? – Tiramisu, if done well.
Tea or Coffee? – A double espresso macchiato.
Drink of choice? – Italian Red Wine.
Sneakers, sandals, or barefoot? – Barefoot.
Favorite Season? – Spring.
Favorite Food? – Pasta.
Favorite Book? – Who moved my cheese? By Dr. Spencer Johnson
Favorite Song? – Acqua e sale by Mina & Celentano
Favorite Car? – Ferrari.