In its seventh year, the Porsche Young Driver Academy (PYDA) has undergone the most significant retooling in its history. The four selected drivers of the 2018 class – Max Root (San Diego, California), David Kolkmann (Germany), Roman De Angelis (Canada) and Mitchell De Jong (Temecula, California) – participated in the intense two-day academy (October 21 – 22) in the heart of North American Porsche motorsport. The shift to the Porsche Experience Center Los Angeles (PEC LA) allowed the program, designed to highlight selected North American drivers between 18 and 26 years of age, to put the invitees through a new set of challenges while retaining core aspects established in the earliest days of the PYDA.
Created in 2012 by Porsche Cars North America (PCNA) and PMNA, PYDA has offered 29 drivers the opportunity to learn from experts in the fields of driving, nutrition, sports psychology, media and automotive technology to educate and maximize their opportunities. The Young Driver Academy syllabus is founded on the principles and practices of the brand’s European Junior selection process, with specialization by North America’s only “works” driver Patrick Long (Manhattan Beach, California), PMNA Race Director Owen Hayes and PCNA Spokesperson for Motorsport and Brand Heritage Dave Engelman.
Joining the well-established curriculum of media training by noted television personality Jamie Howe (Flowery Branch, Georgia) and renowned auto documentary maker J.F. Musial of Tangent Vector, was internationally recognized performance specialist Dr. Jacques Dallaire and professional race driver Jan Heylen. The two experts in their fields focused on the mental and physical aspects required of a professional racing driver. On-track car-control sessions were held at the PEC LA test track while Base 51 supplied concentrated race simulations to further race and test driving feedback as well as teamwork skills.
The results of the nearly two-dozen drivers through the program since its inception are a perfect example of the Academy’s founding precept. PYDA has helped form champions of not only the Porsche one-make series, but also throughout motor racing. Graduates earned 2018 championship titles in both the IMSA WeatherTech Championship and Pirelli World Challenge as well as participated in the Indianapolis 500.
Porsche, both internationally and in North America, has a long history of driver development. One of the first manufacturers to create not only a “factory driver” group but also a junior program, Porsche continues its efforts to assist young racing talent outside of the “works” efforts. The Porsche Young Driver Academy was founded by the two arms of Porsche on this continent to recognize and help develop the talent of drivers competing in a Porsche one-make series, such as Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama and the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama, Porsche drivers who are currently racing in a non-one-make series – including the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge – or an IMSA-sanctioned development series that does not race Porsches.
Owen Hayes, Race Director, Porsche Motorsport North America.
“By moving the venue from the Porsche Driving Experience (formally the Porsche Sport Driving School) to our home at the PEC in Carson, we lost the two-car 911 GT3 Cup experience, but gained a different perspective with the iRacing simulators of Base 51. This year’s group of young drivers once again came from a diverse background, and impressed on all levels.”
Dave Engelman, Spokesperson, Motorsports and Brand Heritage, Porsche Cars North America.
“With the change of venue and in-car approach, we were able to see a different side of the attendees. After a solid day of classroom and on-camera media training with Jamie Howe, simulating a four-driver team at the Rolex 24 At Daytona on the simulators saw camaraderie outpace the already high-level of competitiveness.”