Reflecting on a Great Season and Looking Ahead to 2023 Satisfies Like a Good Thanksgiving Meal
By Jeff Olson
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It’s that time again when we gather with family and friends to express gratitude for the people and circumstances that brought us to the table.
In our case, in this particular niche of motorsport, there is much gratitude to be found. Enough, as a matter of fact, to make a list. So, without further ado, here are a few of the most thankful aspects of the IMSA season, in no particular order:
Progress. We’re about to delve into an extraordinary change in scope and technology. Adding the hybrid-based Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class puts the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship on the leading edge of change in racing, attracting new teams and talent to North American sports car racing while linking it to the rest of the sports car world.
The future. Because of the change, the year ahead – and the years beyond that – is shining brightly. The linking of Daytona and Sebring with Le Mans completes the circle, and the addition of Indianapolis Motor Speedway to the WeatherTech Championship schedule links history and venues in a satisfying way.
Diversity and inclusion. Taylor Hagler’s second consecutive driver championship in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge’s Touring Car (TCR) class was just one of the significant advancements for women in motorsports. While drivers are the most visible, other women are breaking ground in executive, engineering and team leadership roles. Also in 2022, Jaden Conwright competed in the WeatherTech Championship’s GT Daytona (GTD) class for NTE Sport as the first recipient of the IMSA Diverse Driver Development Scholarship. Seven finalists are competing for the 2023 scholarship, with the recipient to be announced next month.
Close racing. For the second consecutive year, the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class championship came down to the final laps of a 10-hour race. DPi wasn’t alone. Racing across the WeatherTech Championship’s five classes was compact and close. That’s remarkable for endurance racing.
Interesting characters. Unconventional is good. In fact, it makes IMSA what it is. Whether it’s Turner Motorsport’s obsession with tacos or Pfaff Motorsports’ plaid Porsche or Jordan Taylor’s Rodney Sandstorm, IMSA balances the seriousness of racing with fun. Racing is supposed to be entertaining; long live the quirks.
Tenacity and determination. Robert Wickens’ Michelin Pilot Cwin at Watkins Glen International – in his first season of competition since a crash left him paralyzed in 2018 – was purposeful and moving. He didn’t need to prove it to anyone, especially himself, but he did. “I don’t see myself as an inspirational person,” he said after winning. “I’m just a guy trying to get back to something I love to do.” He’s not alone. IMSA is full of drivers whose determination resonates with fans.
You. Yes, you. Without fans, racing goes nowhere. Over the course of the season fans have jammed the grid walks, stood in autograph lines, hiked their favorite tracks to find the best viewing angles and tuned in to watch on TV. For that, we are grateful.