Max Root, a 17-year-old driver from Rancho Santa Fe, California, was introduced as the recipient of the 2018 IMSA Hurley Haywood GT3 Scholarship at Daytona International Speedway on Friday, January 5. The scholarship honors five-time Rolex 24 At Daytona and three-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Hurley Haywood (St. Augustine, Florida) and provides the driver a foundation to compete in IMSA’s Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama championship. Root will compete for multi-time GT3 Cup Champions Wright Motorsports in a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car beginning with the first two of the 16-round 2018 season at Sebring International Raceway on March 15 and 16.
The scholarship is provided by the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), with support from Porsche, Yokohama, Sonic Tools, OMP and RACER Magazine is worth nearly $70,000.
Racers between the ages of 16 and 25, with no previous full-time Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama experience, are eligible to earn the scholarship. Successful candidates must have a strong desire to compete in the series, outstanding previous race results and proven on-track potential in junior racing categories, and the ability to build a compelling business plan for securing the remaining funding needed to compete in a full season of the IMSA-sanctioned Single-Make Series.
Root rose through the ranks of motocross and UTV racing before shifting his focus to sports car racing. Last year, he participated in the Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA, winning in his first series start at Thunderhill Raceway Park in Willow, California and adding a second victory at Circuit of The Americas en route to second-place in the 2017 Diamond class championship.
He finished on the podium in all 16 races in the 2017 championship, and makes his Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama debut at Sebring International Raceway on March 14-17 as part of the prestigious Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring event, kicking off the eight-weekend, 16-round season that runs through Oct. 10-13 at Road Atlanta and the Motul Petit Le Mans weekend.
Root will receive from IMSA, with support from Porsche and Yokohama, these rewards with a combined value of approximately $70,000.
Haywood was a mainstay of the illustrious Brumos Porsche team as a driver and a leader for more than four decades. He currently serves as the chief driving instructor at the Porsche Sport Driving School at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. Haywood, a longtime Porsche Ambassador, played a role in the selection of Root as he did in 2017 recipient – and eventual Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama Champion – Jake Eidson.
Root is the second recipient of the IMSA Hurley Haywood GT3 Cup Scholarship, which was expanded in 2017 from a program IMSA, Porsche and Yokohama started in 2014. Previous IMSA Scholarship recipients were Eidson (2017), Victor Gomez IV (2016), Elliott Skeer (2015) and Michael Lewis (2014).
The Batavia, Ohio-based Wright Motorsports team has maintained a long association with Porsche through a variety of racing series, and will field the No. 58 Porsche 911 GT3 R in the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Daytona (GTD) class for two-time and defending GTD champion Christina Nielsen (Denmark) and American Porsche factory driver Patrick Long (Manhattan Beach, California) – who won the 2017 Pirelli World Challenge GT championship for the team – in addition to its longstanding IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama program.
The IMSA-sanctioned Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama is now in its 14th season as one of Porsche’s 21 single-make Cup Challenge series in the world. The series produces intense, exciting competition for semi-professional and aspiring professional drivers in the world’s most produced and iconic racecar, the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
Racing is divided into two classes – Platinum Cup, featuring the latest generation 2017 and 2018 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, which is based on the current generation of the 911 GT3 street car, and Gold Cup, which is comprised of the previous iteration (model years 2014-2016) of the same racecar. A Masters Championship also is conducted in the Platinum class. Each class is awarded with its own podium at the end of every race and individual champion at the end of every season. Points are awarded by finish in class.
Hurley Haywood, Porsche Ambassador.
“I am a big believer in giving back to the sport that has treated me so well, and there is no better way than by supporting up and coming drivers. Between our annual Porsche Young Driver Academy and this valuable scholarship, we are all able help attract young talent into the sports car competition arena. It was gratifying to see what last year’s IMSA GT3 Cup by Yokohama scholarship winner was able to do with the opportunity. Jake made the most of it, winning the Porsche GT3 Challenge by Yokohama championship his first year in the series. We believe we have made another quality choice with Max Root, and look forward to seeing what he can do over the course of 2018.”
Daniel Armbruster, president/CEO, Porsche Motorsport North America.
“At Porsche, young drivers are always a big topic of conversation. Our Porsche Junior program in Europe is one well-established component, as our Porsche Young Driver Academy has taken root here in North America over the past six years. We are constantly looking for new ways to support talented newcomers like Max Root, while expanding our Porsche ladder system for drivers. Working in partnership with IMSA, Yokohama and other generous sponsors, the IMSA Hurley Haywood GT3 Scholarship is yet another way to attract and encourage new people into our sport.”
Max Root, Driver, Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
“It’s a huge blessing. It’s an honor, just for everything this scholarship stands for. Hurley is an amazing man. I’ve only known him for a little while, and it’s an amazing opportunity and I’m looking forward to everything it holds with IMSA, Wright Motorsports, Porsche, Yokohama and everyone involved.”
John Wright, Principal, Wright Motorsports.
“It’s a great opportunity. It’s always nice to have a driver that can run up front in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama. It’s such a competitive field. Being involved with Hurley, too, he’s always been a hero and mentor of mine, and it’s an honor just being affiliated with the scholarship. It was a little difficult seeing it go to someone else last year, because I feel like I’m a part of the Brumos family, but everybody needs to have an opportunity to do this. I’m glad Max got it this year.”
Scott Atherton, president, IMSA.
“On behalf of IMSA, we offer hearty congratulations to Max Root as our 2018 IMSA Hurley Haywood GT3 Cup Scholarship recipient, and also to Wright Motorsports for securing Max’s driving services this season. Max has some big shoes to fill in 2018, as Jake Eidson set the bar high last year with his championship-winning performance, but there is no question Max is another rising star in our sport. We are grateful to our entitlement and presenting partners – Porsche and Yokohama – as well as OMP, Sonic Tools and RACER Magazine for their continued support of this important and beneficial program for aspiring young racers.”