Jake Eidson has secured a full-season drive in the 2017 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama, in part through the expanded IMSA Hurley Haywood GT3 Cup Scholarship from the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) and supported by Porsche and Yokohama.
Eidson, 21, from Littleton, Colorado, will begin the 2017 season March 15-17 at Sebring International Raceway during the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida event week. He will drive in the Platinum Cup class for defending Platinum Cup Team Champions Kelly-Moss Road and Race.
“The support from IMSA, Porsche and Yokohama made the difference of whether or not I could race this season,” Eidson said. “Their support means everything. I’m extremely excited and thankful for everything they have provided.
“It’s a big expectation to live up to, working with Kelly-Moss. They have a very successful history, and all they do is win. That’s our goal, too. They do everything they can to be competitive, and that’s all you can expect from a team.”
Aspiring 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.
Eidson will receive from IMSA, with support from Porsche and Yokohama, these rewards with a combined value of approximately $70,000:
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.
“It was great just to talk with Hurley Haywood,” Eidson said of receiving notification from Haywood of winning the Scholarship. “I know about his very, very rich history in sports car racing and with Porsche. It was overwhelming in a good way and an experience I’ll never forget.”
Eidson is moving to sports cars full time in 2017 after an outstanding career in junior open-wheel formulas. He finished second in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda in 2015 after placing third in the series in 2014. He earned six victories and 22 overall podium finishes in his two seasons in the competitive championship.
After a successful karting career, American-Australian Eidson started in open-wheel formula car racing in 2011 in the New South Wales Formula Ford 1600 championship. He also raced in the United States in Skip Barber competition, winning the Winter Series championship in 2011, 2012 and 2013, and the Summer Series championship in 2012.
Those strong results helped Eidson earn a Team USA Scholarship to compete in the Formula Ford Festival and Walter Hayes Trophy events in 2013 in England. He finished fifth out of 50 entries in the Festival and seventh out of 110 entries in the Hayes Trophy.
Eidson made his first and only sports car start in August 2016 at Road America in the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama, finishing an impressive second behind series champion Lazare in both rounds while driving for Kelly-Moss Road and Race.
“Jake showed tremendous talent in his only Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama race weekend last season, racing among the quickest, most skilled veterans of the series,” said Randy Hembrey, IMSA senior series manager, Development and Single-Make Series. “We’re happy he has decided to advance his career in the IMSA paddock with assistance from the IMSA Hurley Haywood GT3 Cup Scholarship. The Scholarship has reached a new level this season with the inclusion of and support from the legendary Hurley Haywood, who has played such an integral role in the development of countless Porsche drivers. We’re also grateful for the addition of more commercial partners, adding even more value to the Scholarship program.”
Said Jens Walther, president and CEO of Porsche Motorsport North America: “The Hurley Haywood Scholarship is an exciting addition to the opportunities being offered through the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama series. IMSA has cast a broad net over the sports’ feeder systems and found a true gem in Jake Eidson. His experience and success in open-wheel racing will serve him well in our intensely competitive one-make series and in the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car. We wish him well as the first recipient to receive this honor.”
Eidson is the first recipient of the IMSA Hurley Haywood GT3 Cup Scholarship, which was expanded from a program IMSA, Porsche and Yokohama started in 2014. Previous IMSA Scholarship recipients were Victor Gomez IV (2016), Elliott Skeer (2015) and Michael Lewis (2014), all of whom remain active in North American sports car racing.
“Support of this scholarship is one of the cornerstones of Yokohama’s deep commitment to motorsports and development of racing talent in North America, and we’re honored to be associated starting this year with a legend like Hurley Haywood,” Yokohama Tire Corporation Motorsports Manager Duane Sampson said. “Jake proved last August at Road America that he will be a regular threat for victories and the Platinum Cup championship this season, and we’re eager to see his move to sports cars blossom in this competitive, exciting championship.”
Kelly-Moss Road and Race, based in Madison, Wisconsin, is one of the most successful teams in the 12-year history of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama. The team won the Platinum Cup championship in 2014 and 2016, with drivers Colin Thompson and Jesse Lazare capturing the Platinum Cup Drivers Championship in 2014 and 2016, respectively.
“We were able to put a single IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama event together last year for Jake, and I was really impressed with him, not just as a driver but as a quality young man,” said Jeff Stone, Kelly-Moss Road and Race president. “Ever since then we have been working hard to put him in a position to contend for the Platinum Cup championship with KMR in 2017
“I am very excited to work with Jake in a multi-year program to help him become a Porsche professional driver. We have been blessed to work with some very special young drivers over the years, most recently with Colin Thompson for the Platinum Cup championship in 2014 and with Jesse Lazare for the 2016 championship. I believe with a lot of hard work from Jake and the whole team, we have a great shot at the championship again in 2017.”
For more information about Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama, visit www.imsa.com or follow hashtag #GT3USA @IMSA on Twitter or IMSA on Facebook.