Driving for Subaru Rally Team USA (SRT USA), David Higgins has been the Rally America National Championship-winning driver the last two years. The road to that championship comes at a price paid by the entire team in terms of intense preparation, teamwork, and effort. Higgins, born in 1972, contributes to all three through his focus on diet and exercise.
David Higgins monitors his diet and exercises for two main reasons. The first is that “he doesn’t feel he looks fit,” according to his wife, Kara Higgins.
“I’ve always struggled with my weight, since I was 12 or 13,” David Higgins commented. “When I saw my picture on the podium at Tall Pines Rally, I said, ‘I’ve gotten too big.’ It was one of those moments.”
The second reason is that weight control and being fit help the team win rallies. “The [Rally America National] championship has gotten more and more competitive,” explained David. “The car has a minimum weight, but the crew doesn’t. Antoine [L’Estage] and Nathalie [Richard], between them, are a very small crew.
“So Craig [Drew – David’s co-driver for SRT USA] and I decided to have a bit of a challenge to try to lose weight. I wanted to do it for me, but also for the performance of the car. We went on a program to try to lose weight equal to that of a spare wheel and a jack, so we could take an extra wheel.”
“In my day, the drivers were fat and the tires were skinny.” – Anonymous
David is “obsessive” with diet and exercise, according to Kara. When not in his four-wheeled Subaru, he’s bicycling on two wheels, or running, or working out on equipment in his garage or a gym. His meals are calculated to maximize his performance, whether driving a rally car, riding a mountain bike, or running the hills in Wales or the United States.
David chronicled what happened on the road to his current dietary program: “When I went on a real strict program to start with, it was a little bit too extreme. Brilliant to get the weight down and a brilliant way to do it. Although I felt great because I could get into clothes I had never been in, even at school, it actually got to the point where I wasn’t as strong as I needed to be for full events. I felt like I was okay, but as the events were going on, I was probably tailing off a little bit.
Photo: Lars Gange | rally.subaru.com
“I was cutting out so many food groups that I probably should have been having, but it was a great way of getting small and losing weight. I think I lost 22 kilos [49 pounds] in the first six months, and I kept that stable throughout 2012.
“For the end of last year and this year, I’ve started to get more of a compromise, where I don’t completely starve myself of every food group.”