In this week’s Q&A interview, Speedway Media caught up with current GTLM and Corvette Racing driver Tommy Milner. Milner has competed for Corvette Racing since 2011 where he debuted for them at the Sebring race.
Milner, a Winchester, Virginia native, discusses what he thinks is his best season is to date and what he considers as the most special win he’s given to Corvette Racing among many other topics.
SM: You’ve competed for Corvette Racing since 2011 and you have 14 overall wins which include the American Le Mans Series and eventually the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Series. which season do you think is your best season with Corvette Racing and why?
TM: “The best (season) can kind of go different ways, right?” Milner said about the season. “Sometimes, the best can emotionally, in some way, the feelings you get throughout the year, some are better than others. I think 2012 stands out (as my best season); that year was my first championship, first ALMS win, just a year where everything kind of went right.”
“Getting some of those wins made me feel a bit more comfortable and established some way with the team. All things considered, 2012 is my best year for sure.”
SM: As a follow-up to that question, which of those 14 wins for Corvette is the most special? Or are there any podiums that remain especially meaningful to you?
TM: “Le Mans in 2015, that one we really had just a faultless race from start to finish in tough conditions,” he said. “2013 Sebring stands out, those moments where everything comes together. You know, driving-wise, the cars feel great, I felt like I was at the top of my game. Getting those wins in those situations, that validation goes a long way.”
SM: Is there a moment where you wish you had one of those races that got away, back?
TM: “Daytona (2015), I’m not sure what year that was, but we were on a restart and we were first and second and I got caught up with a slow DP car and got damaged and that was already after we came back from a problem,” Milner stated. “The 15 car came out of the infield and got really loose and just bailed basically. I thought I had enough of a gap, but obviously not and I made contact. That was a race that definitely stands out.”
SM: If your driving career was over tomorrow, but you had the option to stay in the sport whether it’s as a crew chief, engineer, specialist, marketing, Public Relations, etc., what would your other career choice be if you stuck around in motorsports but were not racing in IMSA?
TM: “(My other career) would be something like a mechanic or engineer in some way because that was my upbringing in racing,” he said. “My dad was a team owner and he had an engineering mind and my brother-in-law was a crew chief, so I connected really well when I was younger with the guys working on the cars day in, day out.”
SM: Sometimes people get mistaken for other people and that especially happens in racing a lot. Have you ever been mistaken for someone while on the grid for an IMSA event and if so, who?
TM: “I get a lot of Oliver Gavins (Milner’s teammate),” Milner said. “I get some Jordan Taylors every now and then.
SM: If you could relive a moment in your career, what moment would you choose to relive?
TM: “I think if I could relieve the first Le Mans win now, I would appreciate it a little bit more but I think that’s what made that victory so special,” he said. “Just the way the race played out and everything. That was my first year with Corvette Racing.”
SM: Your first race with Corvette Racing came in 2011 at Sebring. What do you remember about that race and how you came about with Corvette Racing?
TM: “I have absolutely zero memory of that race to be honest with you,” Milner jokingly says. “Not because (the race) was bad or anything. My first real race was at Le Mans with the team and the test with Corvette at the end of 2010 at Sebring, those I remember very well. The race itself, I just don’t remember much.”
SM: I am sure there are many achievements you would like to cross off well before you retire, however, is there a checklist or bucket list item that you want to complete before retirement?
TM: “I would love to do a lot of different styles of racing in some way,” the Corvette Racing driver said. “I think it would be fun to do a little bit of off-road racing, some NASCAR, local short-tracks, etc. More than anything, the off-road stuff. It appeals to me more, but as far as accomplishments, I would l love to get a win at the 6 Hours of The Glen, which I thought was looking okay last weekend but that’s how it (racing) goes.”
SM: For someone who doesn’t know what it’s like sitting in a GTLM car, can you describe what the feeling is like when you’re going at fast speeds on different tracks across the states?
TM: “These days it feels like the cars are overachieving, considering where the cars started from 2006,” he said. “The class hasn’t changed much. Nowadays with the cars having so much more downforce, tires having a lot more grip, cars being more sophisticated, they are a lot faster.”
“There are a couple of corners at a couple of racetracks, where the car and track combination nowadays is incredible. Mosport is one of them, Road Atlanta is one of them. The Glen here is pretty impressive. The cars are very fast these days and very fast to drive.”
SM: Wrapping this interview up, let’s say someone were to play you in a racing movie. What would the title of the movie be and who is going to play Tommy Milner?
TM: “Unfortunately, I don’t watch much TV or movies to have a favorite actor who I think would play me well in a Sports Car movie,” Milner said. “Perhaps one of my teammates would suit me well.”
Throughout Milner’s current IMSA career, he has scored eight career victories, 23 podium finishes and six pole positions. He won the championship back in 2016 and in 2012 in the former American Le Mans Series.
Furthermore, he has four career wins in the NASCAR Rolex Grand-Am Series and six wins in the American Le Mans Series.
Special thanks to Tommy Milner for taking time out of his busy schedule to conduct this interview and many thanks to Ryan Smith for coordinating the interview.