Described as Senna's greatest rival in the movie, Terry Fullerton talks to Simon Stiel about Senna, driver coaching and life in the spotlight since the film's release...
Is it still sinking in, getting all the public attention since the release of the Senna film?

Terry Fullerton:
I suppose it is, yes. It's all a bit of a shock really, a bit strange getting recognised for something you did thirty odd years ago. It never will sink in properly.
What were your first feelings when you saw that footage of Senna at the press conference in Adelaide?

Terry Fullerton:
I'd heard he'd said those things. Then I saw it in the film and my feelings are hard to explain really. I'm glad he said them. It happened a long time ago and it's all a bit strange really but I'm basically glad he said the things and glad that it came out eventually.
You had faced people like Francois Goldstein, do you feel psychologically you had to go even further to face Senna?

Terry Fullerton:
Not really, no. Goldstein was a much more complete driver than Senna was at the time. Goldstein was a confident, completely rounded driver and when I won the world championship it was like building up to beat someone who was a complete driver. With Senna, I was a complete driver and he came along as a raw, seventeen year old talent who was not a rounded driver. It was a different situation altogether. The Goldstein thing was much more of a challenge than Senna.
Did you feel in the case of Senna you were the pursued?

Terry Fullerton:
Yeah, but under control. He was definitely pursuing me and I was the one he wanted to beat. But I always had it under control.
A poster at the time referred to you and Senna as: "The Kings of Karting" Did it get to a stage where you didn't worry about anyone else, just about each other?

Terry Fullerton:
No I worried about other people. I always had a philosophy that I wanted to win and that I didn't really care who came second. He was involved in the people that I didn't really care if he came second. I just wanted to win, that was my philosophy.
Part of that philosophy was a meticulous approach to testing, when did you develop that technique?

Terry Fullerton:
Over the years really. I just accumulated knowledge and experience between 1970 and 1980.
Do you think it's bad nowadays that people at age 14 can be offered to drive cars?

Terry Fullerton:
Good or bad, that's a fact of life and you have to accept it. Why bother commenting good or bad, you just sound like an old fogey or something. It's a fact of life, that's the way it is.
If I was your pupil, do you focus more on the mental side or the technique of driving?

Terry Fullerton:
It normally starts off with the physical side of it. You do need to be in control of the techniques and actually move up the ladder. The mental stuff becomes more important. So it's both really.
Is it a challenge to convince parents that their child needs coaching?

Terry Fullerton:
It's almost impossible. For whatever reason in motor racing, they always think you've either got it, you're gifted, you're going to be a champion or you're not. All parents think their golden eyed little boy or whatever is a champion. They're always thinking they don't need coaching and they're going to succeed on their own. It's almost impossible to convince them coaching works or helps. I don't know why it is so much in racing or driving. If they were doing cricket, tennis, golf or anything like that, they'd get a coach. In karting, they don't do that.
When did you become self-confident? When you were racing you had your father and brother with you. How did you develop the confidence to think things out for yourself?

Terry Fullerton:
I think it started as a 12-13 year old. I became pretty good at it because I was very obsessed and really determined. I started winning, your confidence grows when you win so the next time you go out after a big win you're even more confident; you have a bigger chance at winning. You basically put yourself on the upward escalator, everything you do builds more confidence. I started at a young age and it never really stopped while I was racing. At the end of my career, I was still very confident because the progression I'd done in karting had led me to that point.
Other people win but also plateau, where did you think you avoided that?

Terry Fullerton:
I just had this desire to be the best at what I was doing. Whatever it took to the best at what you're doing is what I was prepared to do. I think Senna had that as well. There were some other guys but I certainly had it and Senna had it. Mike Wilson had it and so did other people. You're not really prepared to come second and you're not prepared to come second best. Whatever it takes to be a winner, you're looking for that all the time.
You've produced an excellent calibre of drivers as we've seen in Paul Di Resta, which of those do you think has that desire?

Terry Fullerton:
I think most of the kids I help have some of that in varying degrees. Different personalities react to my coaching in a different way but I mean all the kids I help end up with that to a certain degree. A certain amount of self confidence and understanding of how to move forward and isolating the things you're not so good at and then working at them. The things you're good at, you leave them alone and you improve things you're not so good at by being logical. As you move forward you become more confident and as you become more confident you're going to move forward. They all have that philosophy.
When you're faced with pupils trackside do you try to spend as much time with them as possible?

Terry Fullerton:
It's not about how much time you spend with someone, it's the quality of the time you spend with them. If you say: 'Oh the best way to improve is to do loads of laps' and they go out and do hundreds and hundreds of laps week in week out, they're practising all their bad habits. They're not going to improve or they're going to improve very very slowly. If you cut the laps of that particular driver in half or a quarter, the quality laps are where you're doing a section, you stop, talk about it with someone who knows what they're talking about, isolate where they're performing and where they're not performing. Forget all about the good bits and concentrate on the bad bits, decide how to improve them and go about practising and try different techniques. That's quality testing and so many people don't do that. They practise their bad habits lap after lap after lap. In fact, 99% of people do that.
If it was up to you, how would you organise the modern world championship?

Terry Fullerton:
That's a big question, because of the equipment it's a very big question. I'd organise it so the best drivers rose to the top. I'd probably put more emphasis on qualifying, on being fast, I'd give points for that. I'd need to think about it about more than the two seconds you've given me to answer that question. What I'd definitely do is make it very clear cut that this is the race for a world champion. At the end of it, we have a karting world champion. I wouldn't dilute it by having a Formula A World Champion, a Super A World Champion, a KF1 World Champion, a 250 World Champion. I wouldn't dilute it by doing that. I would have one world champion.
Have you been inundated with requests for coaching since the film came out?

Terry Fullerton:
Not inundated but it has gone up a bit yeah, more than normal. Funny because the way the economy is, people aren't very keen to commit to a whole year. Lots of people want to do the next race and the one after that, but not the whole year. I've got six people at the moment who want to do stuff with me this year.
You've helped Jake Dennis, who do you think are the most impressive newcomers in karting?

Terry Fullerton:
Nyck De Vries is very impressive. I think Albon is very impressive. Jake Dennis you have to say on his day when he's going well is very impressive. That would probably be about it, it's those three.
Historic karting has generated interest. Do you think you may go to the Donington Historic Festival?

Terry Fullerton:
Yeah if they ask me to go and it's convenient to go I'll go there to support it if I can.

by Simon Stiel

Many thanks to Adam Jones of 100cc PR for arranging this interview


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