Forgeois Drives ADHD to the Fore
If someone were to approach 18-year-old Luca Forgeois outside of the circuits which comprise the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, he would be another kid. A lover of pretzel M&Ms, high fashion (he exclusively wears J Crew) and he sports braces on his teeth. However, that is just part of what makes Forgeois unique.
The New York City born and raised teenager has balanced life as a high school student (a recent graduate of Bay Ridge Prep) with the training and focus necessary to compete at the highest levels of motorsports. For Forgeois, focus has not always been easy since he suffers from Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
In 2011, Forgeois overcame his challenges by winning six of 12 races in a National Class USF2000 to become a champion and has competed at the highest levels of go-kart racing. However, the funding to support this passion is hard to come by, even for a unique presence like Forgeois.
In this vain, Foregois is savvy beyond his years, utilizing social media and marketing with the JJI to promote his brand while chasing the dream of racing in the Indianapolis 500.
Luca’s passion for racing and risk-taking came immediately but his career didn’t take off until he turned 13. “My dad (George) put me in a go-kart at age six but he let it lie and wanted me to be motivated enough to take me to the track…to show him that I really wanted to go,” Forgeois said. “It was two years of nagging him until it was worth it for him to take me…racing was just a sanctuary for me and I just loved it.”
Forgeois was diagnosed with ADHD around the same time he found racing. For Luca, the escape of racing was tempered with the struggles in school, even with the diagnosis. “School in general is so much pressure and I was at a point in my life where my parents did not understand why I was having so much difficulty…I have all this excess energy and I can never stand still and it got me in a lot of trouble in school,” said Forgeois.
“My confidence went down, I got diagnosed but I was so far back that I needed more significant help. I was taken out of school and placed with a tutor…at age 10, my tutor Erin Gorski made me do more work than any kid my age which pushed me so far that when I went to high school, everything was so easy [due to work ethic].”
Considering the disability that Forgeois has, one would believe driving a race car would be difficult with the mental and physical toll necessary to succeed. However, he thrives on that. “In racing, it’s my passion…I can never get into a mental state (in real life) as when I am in a car,” Forgeois said. “Everything is going at a pace I am comfortable with (in a car).”
Forgeois is supremely confident due to having a drive to succeed and become a champion in racing, using his disability and this country as examples. “America is a country built on innovation, possibility and opportunity,” said Forgeois. “If you want to become somebody, you have to push yourself and I am intrigued with taking risks…if you have ADHD, school is an obstacle course and once you get out and if you have determination, your mind will flourish.”
For his maturity and speaking ability, Forgeois can be a motivation for many people and was a revelation to this writer. His humble nature comes from an upbringing with an immigrant father. “My father shaped my mentality towards life…he came to this country with $300 in his pocket and became something.” Forgeois said.
“My dad was tough and made me learn early on the value of hard work and the importance of earning my own way,” said Forgeois. “When I get to IndyCar because I refuse to accept defeat, will the kid who has had every step of his life paid for by someone or a kid who has worked his [butt] off, working for everything in his life…which one is going to put everything on the line?”
Luca Forgeois’ path to IndyCar is taking him around the country to train while meeting different people as a representative of Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD). Being able to stay focused and grounded while chasing this dream was linked to Chris Newsell, who mentored him through high school. Newsell is a psychologist by trade and works with students with ADD, and molded Forgeois’ ability to balance school and racing.
“Over the years, we have worked on his focus…when we first met (in ninth grade), Luca was an excited and passionate person about racing but he had such a bright mind…he was so conscientious about things and worked hard,” Newsell said.
“As he progressed through high school, he became more business-oriented and appreciated the challenges of becoming a racer, taking ownership of trying to make this happen for himself…he embraces that he has ADD and doesn’t let it limit him.”
Illness aside, Foregeois has put it on the line in machines that are inches off the ground with open wheels and he goes in-depth with the differences of high-performance go-karts and a USF20000 car. The abilities necessary to compete show the true sporting nature of auto racing. “Go-karting has no suspension so everything happens right away…it is just so quick, so reactive and it is a bloody sport,” said Forgeois.
“You are in these little chassis frames, going 60 M.P.H. bumping into kids and sometimes crashing where you can really get hurt…it teaches you the basics and ethics of racing. With an F2000 car (with suspension), it produces 350 pounds of down force going 160 M.P.H. with your butt three inches off the ground. Every affect of steering is slightly delayed and more reactive…if the back of the car is sliding out, the momentum has already started. You have to feel that change right away to drive on the limit.”
After seeing Forgeois compete against amateurs (including myself) in go-karts at Pole Position Raceway in Jersey City, N.J., I got a true understanding of what separates Luca from a 22-year fan of the sport in me. The clinical, calm style that Forgeois had in the kart looked easy compared to my aggressive, somewhat reckless style I had. The sensation of speed is unforgettable and should be experienced by any thrill seeker.
Forgeois is currently running his RocketHub Campaign, and you can help!
Luca Forgeois is an example of what a racer should be and his ability to fight through challenges is something to look up to. Support Luca by going to his website (www.lucaforgeois.com), follow him on Twitter (@lucaforgeois) and marketing firm JJI, at (www.janinejust.com) and (@janinejustinc).
Stay with Double G Sports for all the latest tri-state area sports news (www.doublegsports.com) and @DoubleGSports on Twitter.
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