Max Root, a 17-year-old driver from Rancho Santa Fe, California, is the 2018 recipient of the IMSA Hurley Haywood GT3 Scholarship, which he will use toward a full-season ride in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama season with Wright Motorsports.
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. Last year’s inaugural recipient of Hurley Haywood Scholarship, Jake Eidson with Kelly Moss Road and Race, went on to win the Platinum Cup Championship in the 2017 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama.
"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," said IMSA President Scott Atherton. "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."
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 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.
"It’s a huge blessing," Root said. "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."
Root will receive from IMSA, with support from Porsche and Yokohama, these rewards with a combined value of approximately $70,000:
- Full-season Premium Entry into the 2018 IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama
- $20,000 in parts credit from Porsche Motorsport North America
- One set of Yokohama tires for each 2018 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama event
- Tool credit from Sonic Tools
- Complete OMP driver suit and gloves
- Promotional consideration by RACER Magazine
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 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," said Haywood. "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."
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).
"At Porsche, young drivers are always a big topic of conversation," said Dr. Daniel Armbruster, President and CEO of Porsche Motorsport North America. "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."
"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 with a legend like Hurley Haywood," added Drew Dayton, motorsports manager for Yokohama Tire. "We are excited to help support Max in his first year of GT3 Cup Challenge racing, his diverse experience in racing motocross, off-road and sports cars along with his commitment to the sport make him an excellent choice for the scholarship."
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 and American Porsche factory driver Patrick Long – 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.
"It’s a great opportunity," said Wright Motorsports Owner John Wright. "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."
For more information about the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama, visit www.imsa.com, follow hashtag #GT3USA @IMSA on Twitter or IMSA on Facebook.