The next step in the racing career of 21-year-old Sean McAlister from Beverly Hills, California will be the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama, and he’ll do it as the 2019 recipient of the prestigious IMSA Hurley Haywood GT3 Cup Scholarship.
McAlister won the 2018 Platinum Class champion in the Pirelli Trophy West series with 11 victories in the14-race championship driving for longtime GT3 competitors, Competition Motorsports. This year, he will join JDX Racing, which won the GT3 Cup Challenge USA Platinum Cup title in 2018 with driver Trenton Estep, who had 14 podium finishes in 16 races.
McAlister was chosen by a selection committee that included sports car racing legend and the scholarship’s namesake, Hurley Haywood, Porsche Motorsport North America Race Director Owen Hayes, Yokohama Tire Motorsport Manager Drew Dayton, and IMSA Single Make and Challenge Series Manager Randy Hembrey.
“I’m really pleased the judging panel chose Sean as the 2019 recipient of the IMSA Hurley Haywood GT3 Cup Scholarship,” said JDX Racing Managing Partner Jeremy Dale. “Everyone at JDX Racing is excited to get to work preparing for the upcoming season. Driver development is very close to my heart and I’m very proud of what our team has done over the years to help young drivers grow. Combine youthful energy with a Porsche Cup Car on Yokohama tires in the IMSA/ Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama Series and you have an amazing platform for young drivers like Sean. Sean has a steep learning curve in front of him, but I’m confident that our combined hard work and dedication will produce great results in 2019.”
The IMSA Hurley Haywood Scholarship is open to drivers between the ages of 16 and 25 with no previous full-time experience in GT3 Cup Challenge USA. 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, as well as the ability to build a compelling business plan to secure the remaining funding needed to compete in a full GT3 Cup Challenge USA season.
“Sean is a worthy recipient of the 2019 IMSA Hurley Haywood GT3 Cup Scholarship who far exceeded our criteria for selection,” said IMSA President Scott Atherton. “There is no question he has the ‘chops’ to be a rising star in sports car racing, and especially by joining forces with our defending champions at JDX Racing. On behalf of IMSA, I offer congratulations to Sean and JDX and wish them luck in what undoubtedly will be another fantastic and highly competitive season of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama racing in 2019.”
McAlister only has been racing for three years, all of which came in Pirelli Trophy West. He raced a Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport in 2016 and 2017, finishing second in that class championship both years. In 2018, he moved up to the Porsche 991.1 GT3 Cup machine and turned in a dominant season en route to the title. He will make his GT3 Cup Challenge USA debut at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama, which kicks off the eight-round, 16-race season on April 6-7.
“Being the 2019 recipient of the IMSA Hurley Haywood GT3 Cup Scholarship Award is an amazing honor,” McAlister said. “The scholarship provides a great opportunity for young drivers such as myself, the chance to be a part of a distinguished racing series and championship that can be a springboard to a professional driving career.”
The scholarship provides $80,000 in value for McAlister and includes the following benefits:
· Full-season, premium entry for the 2019 GT3 Cup Challenge USA season provided by IMSA
· One free set of race tires per event provided by Yokohama
· $20,000 in parts credit provided by Porsche Motorsport North America
· A custom driver suit and other safety products provided by OMP
The scholarship is named after legendary sports car driver Hurley Haywood, one of the most accomplished sports car endurance racers in history. He earned five overall victories at the Rolex 24 At Daytona, three victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and two wins at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida – all in Porsches – during his remarkable driving career, which spanned five decades.
Haywood also 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.
“I am proud to see IMSA continue with the Scholarship in my name,” said Haywood. “I, like Porsche continue to believe and invest in young drivers more and more each year, and this is yet another way to give back while seeding the sport for the future. As we enter the third year, it is gratifying to see how Jake Eidson and Max Root have made the most of their opportunities. With a 911 GT3 Cup championship already under his belt, Sean McAlister has a head-start towards fulfilling the high expectations expected of our scholarship recipients.”
McAlister follows in the footsteps of previous IMSA Hurley Haywood GT3 Cup Scholarship recipients Max Root (2018) and Jake Eidson (2017). The scholarship was expanded in 2017 from an initial program started by IMSA, Porsche and Yokohama in 2014. Previous IMSA Scholarship recipients were Victor Gomez IV (2016), Elliott Skeer (2015) and Michael Lewis (2014).
“Each year the Hurley Haywood Scholarship winner has proven himself in the crucible of the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama series,” said Porsche Motorsport North America President/CEO Dr. Daniel Armbruster. “I do not see any reason Sean McAlister won’t do the same in 2019. We watched him compete successfully in the Pirelli Trophy West Platinum championship last year, so he has experience with the current Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car and has already faced intense competition. On the IMSA side, JDX Racing is a proven winner in the series and Sean and the team should be a formidable combination in the GT3 Cup Challenge USA this year. I believe Sean will be an ideal representative of Hurley, Porsche and IMSA.”
“Sean McAlister is an excellent choice and a deserving recipient of the IMSA Hurley Haywood GT3 Cup Scholarship,” said Dayton. “He’s a true competitor and Yokohama is proud to support him via the scholarship as he embarks on his rookie season in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama.”
About the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama
The IMSA-sanctioned Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama is now in its 15th 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 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.