Life in the fast lane: Meet tech entrepreneur and Ferrari racing driver, Josh Cartu

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Josh Cartu

Ferrari racing driver, Gumball Rally competitor, fighter jet pilot and tech entrepreneur – Josh Cartu is a self-confessed risk taker, who keeps the same mentality, whether in business or on the race track.

Josh spoke with Business Leader about his growth as an entrepreneur, his history with Ferrari, and how tech has changed the world of racing.

CAN YOU GIVE ME AN OVERVIEW OF YOUR HISTORY AS AN ENTREPRENEUR?

My first real foray into becoming an entrepreneur was realising that as an employee, I could probably recreate a competitive product or environment on my own. I started out by working for Playtech many years ago (an online casino software provider) and it was there that  I learned a lot about organisation, software, client relations, customer relations and the way big business was run.

Little did I know at the time that very little of this would apply to a small business and that the road would be long, painful, and full of setbacks and disappointments!

CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT YOUR HISTORY WITH FERRARI?

I had always wanted one from the time I was very young. When I was growing up, my father’s best friend, Larry Houghton gave me a framed poster of a yellow 355 spider. This sat on my wall for many years and when I finally had the means in 2011, I decided to get one.

The waiting list was long and for whatever dumb-luck reason, my car dealer called me one day and asked if I’d be willing to buy a pre-production unit but then I’d be the first in the world to have it. I agreed and so shortly after, I was the first client in the world to own and drive a 458 spider.

The relationship evolved slowly but surely, from a lot of communication and questions about how I liked the car and what I’d improve. Today I can safely say I know most of the people in management in Maranello and we are very good friends. I care about Ferrari and the direction the brand takes and I’m happy to know that it goes both ways and I feel they listen to me as well.

CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT YOUR RACING CAREER? WHAT ARE SOME OF THE HIGHLIGHTS?

So far I’ve done a full season in the Ferrari Challenge. I trained for five years with AFCorse Ferrari and in my first race, I finished 7th and 8th. Considering it was at Daytona, where the speed was 308kph and tyres were exploding all around me – not dying was my main priority, so I was pretty happy with the result there.

My first race in APAC Abu Dhabi, I qualified first, led the race by a huge margin for half the race then pushed too hard and crashed the car. Amazing how from one second to the next, you can experience one of the greatest, then the worst moments of your life. Not fun!

I fought as hard as I could the whole season, did the best I could and I managed to finish fourth in the World Championship. If I’m honest with myself, I could have done better but I had many things on my mind that year and was unable to focus as much as I should have. If I have any regrets at all, it would be that, but I had a great time and made some great friends.

HOW DID YOU MANAGE TO GET INVOLVED WITH THE FERRARI RACE TEAM? WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU BEING FERRARI CLUB PRESIDENT?

I was asked by Amato Ferrari to test with them after finishing all the Corso Pilota courses. I guess I wasn’t a total disaster so they took me under their wing – specifically, under Michele Rugolo, to whom I’m incredibly grateful. Everything I know about driving I learned from him and we remain close friends to this day.

It’s quite a huge honor for me to be a Ferrari Club President and I’ll continue to do my best to be worthy of the title.

HOW ARE YOU INVOLVED IN THE TECH SECTOR?

Primarily I work in software development, AI, deep learning and big data analysis. It’s very exciting work and my only regret is that most of the work is proprietary and I can’t disclose exactly what we are doing just yet – stay tuned!

HOW HAS TECH AFFECTED THE WORLD OF RACING?

Telemetry analysis and lots of data. We are now able to lay our own telemetry on top of the real pros in our field and see how much later we can brake, how much earlier we can apply power and really understand where the gaps are. Not even Michael Schumacher had access to the tech we have today, and it is making drivers much faster much earlier in life. Simulators are getting more and more accurate as well and that is transforming young drivers into pros much earlier.

WHAT AUTOMOTIVE TRENDS DO YOU LIKE AND DISLIKE?

Even though I work in the field of AI and automation, I don’t like how technology is making poor drivers into overconfident, poor drivers. The tech will save a bad driver in many cases but the moment the tech fails, Superman stands before a pile of kryptonite, crashes the car and this is a big problem. What I do like is that cars are getting faster, but also safer but in the process – they are getting a bit less fun.

WHAT OTHER SECTORS ARE YOU INVOLVED IN AND WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR YOU AS A BUSINESSMAN?

I think I’m the only person, other than maybe my father, who doesn’t consider myself to be a businessman. I have some cool ideas that sometimes others agree with and I’m somehow able to cobble these groups together and make a business out of them.

I have no illusions about my ability to manage and predict business trends, but I feel I know where the tech is going and how people will want to use it.

What does the future hold for me? I’m just hoping in 20 years I have something left to do that can’t be done by machines. We are a lot closer than many of you think!

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