IMSA Road Atlanta News & Notes

Continental Tire Challenge Season Ends In Dramatic Fashion

BRASELTON, Ga. – Both the Grand Sport and Street Tuner class championships came down to the last race of the season for the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, the Road Atlanta 150, part of the Petit Le Mans weekend.

And the champions figured the easiest way to secure the title was go out and win the race, and that’s what they did: Drivers Scott Maxwell and Billy Johnson took the GS title and the race win in the No. 15 Multimatic Motorsports Ford Shelby Mustang GT350R-C.

And in ST, Nick Galante and co-driver Spencer Pumpelly won their first season title after years of competition, as well as the class race win, in the No. 17 RS1 Porsche Cayman.

The Multimatic team essentially clinched the title when Maxwell drove the mandatory 45-minute first stint, then turned the car over to Johnson for the balance of the two-hour, 30-minute race. “That was the longest 45 minutes of my life," Maxwell said. “The car was fine, it was just that I was trying to go around and not get involved in any trouble."

Their chance at a victory looked doubtful early, as a caution flag flew during Maxwell’s stint, and his competition came to the pits for fuel and fresh tires, but he elected to stay on the track and log his 45 minutes. “That put us off-strategy," Johnson said, and Maxwell fell back through the field.

Fortunately for the team, another caution flag flew later and everyone pitted, allowing Johnson to close back up on the field and eventually take the lead, passing the No. 33 C.J. Wilson Racing Porsche Cayman GT4 of Danny Burkett and Marc Miller, who finished second both in the race, and in the season points. Ford and the Multimatic team won the drivers’ championship, the team championship, and the manufacturers’ championship.

Third in the points was the No. 12 Bodymotion Porsche Cayman GT4 of Trent Hindman and Cameron Cassels, which retired early and was never a factor in the race.

In ST, Galante and Pumpelly fought through the field after a disappointing qualifying run that had them start 11th in the class. Galante said his stint as the first driver was to maintain a “blend of conservation and speed," and turn the car over to Pumpelly in good shape. Pumpelly said the Porsche “struggled to find grip" on the track, but evidently found all he needed.

Murillo Racing’s No. 56 Porsche Cayman of Jeff Mosing and Eric Foss were second in points, and Chad Gilsinger, co-driver of the No. 93 HART Honda Civic was third. The title could have gone to the No. 25 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5 of Chad McCumbee and Stevan McAleer, which was slowed by engine problems late in the race, dropping the team to fourth in points.

In the race, the Honda of Gilsinger and co-driver Ryan Eversley finished second, and the No. 19 RS1 Porsche of Greg Strelzoff and Connor Bloum was third.

ATTENTION YOUNG RACE DRIVERS: The just-announced IMSA Hurley Haywood GT3 Cup Scholarship, which will be awarded to a young driver, offers a career-boosting package that includes a full season of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama competition.

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. Candidates will have a strong desire to compete in the series, outstanding previous results and proven on-track potential in junior racing categories, and the ability to build a compelling business plan for securing remaining funding needed to compete in a full season of the IMSA-sanctioned Single-Make Series.

“Hurley Haywood is a Porsche and sports-car racing icon, so it was a natural fit to name this scholarship in his honor," said David Pettit, IMSA vice president, marketing. “Drivers who win the IMSA Hurley Haywood GT3 Cup Scholarship not only will receive a significant boost to begin their career in the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama, but also will forever have their name associated with the great Hurley Haywood. We expect a robust pool of candidates for this scholarship this year and for years to come as it continues to grow in stature."

A recipient will be chosen after a review of the finalists by a panel of experts. The IMSA Hurley Haywood GT3 Cup Scholarship winner will receive from IMSA, with support from Porsche and Yokohama, these rewards with a combined value of approximately $70,000: A full-season Premium Entry into the 2017 IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama; a set of Yokohama tires for each 2017 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama event; tool credit from Sonic Tools; a complete OMP driver suit and gloves, plus a two-page feature story in RACER Magazine.

The scholarship is named after legendary sports car driver Hurley Haywood, one of the most accomplished 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. He serves as the chief driving instructor at the Porsche Sport Driving School at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama.

“I’m proud to lend my name to this scholarship," Haywood said. “I’m always thrilled when I get to help young people get their foot in the door in racing, and I think this is a really good way to promote that. It gives up and coming drivers a baseline to build upon, and that’s always beneficial."

Drivers can apply for the 2017 IMSA Hurley Haywood GT3 Cup Scholarship by visiting The entry deadline is Oct. 31, 2016.

DELTAWING ISN’T DONE: The future of the innovative DeltaWing Prototype has been unclear, but that changed with an announcement Wednesday at a celebration of team owner Dr. Don Panoz’s 20 years in sports car racing. Panoz revealed that the car had been given an extension of eligibility by IMSA to compete in the 2017 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, and that would be the final race of the DeltaWing. The car led quite a few laps in the 2016 race before retiring, so maybe the DeltaWing’s swan song will be a winner.

Saturday’s Petit Le Mans, the final race of the season for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, is also the final race for the Daytona Prototypes, of which there are four in the field of nine Prototypes. The P2 cars can be made eligible with some changes for 2017, but some of the teams that field P2 cars, such as Mazda’s two-car effort, will be going to all-new cars next season.

TUNE IN: The Petit Le Mans presented by Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort – Round 12 of the WeatherTech Championship – takes the green flag at 11:10 a.m. The race will be streamed live on the FOX Sports GO app with FS1 authentication, beginning at 11 a.m. Live coverage begins on FS1 from 11 a.m.-noon, and resumes on FS2 from 2:30-6 p.m. and the IMSA mobile app will stream in-car cameras, live timing and scoring, and IMSA Radio’s play-by-play.