With school finals finished, teenagers concentrate on hitting their marks on track
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – While most high school students take up summer jobs and enjoy days away from the classroom, several teenagers in the Pirelli World Challenge get their summer kicks driving a sports car at speeds over 150 miles per hour.
Four particular teenagers race professionally in addition to their school activities.
Austin Cindric (age 17), Nate Stacy (16), Harry Gottsacker (16) and Parker Chase (15) aren’t just driving around the back of the professional sports car field either. These kids have been battle for wins and positions on the podium around North America.
Their summers are spent at famous racing circuits such as Circuit of the Americas, Long Beach, Lime Rock and this coming weekend (June 23-26) at historic Road America.
“When we raced at CTMP (Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Canada), I was racing during the day and studying for my finals at the hotel at night,” said Cindric, son of Penske Racing president Tim Cindric. “My mom (Megan) would help me study for my French, English and History finals in the evenings. Everything went smoothly on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and I was back at Lime Rock on Thursday for the next race.”
That is the typical lifestyle for a teenage racing driver, but, with school out for the summer, the drivers are only studying the racing surfaces and his engineer’s computers.
Cindric is like a racing sponge these days – driving his McLaren 650S in Pirelli World Challenge and a stock car in ARCA and NASCAR K&N Series after driving in USF2000 open wheelers and Red Bull Global Rallycross Lites too.
“I believe I need as much as seat time in a race car as possible,” said Cindric, now entering his senior year at Cannon School in Concord, N.C. “I have driven a lot of different cars and the McLaren is so unique and fun to drive. But the GT division of the Pirelli World Challenge is tough. Look at the field like Johnny O’Connell, Patrick Long, Michael Cooper and my K-PAX McLaren teammate Alvaro Parente. These guys are seasoned pros. I can learn a lot from them
on and off the track.”
While a rookie in the GT division, Cindric has been learning quickly and posting solid finishes in the 50-minute sprint races. Austin has recorded one top-five and three more top-ten this year.
For Stacy, a junior at Owasso, Okla., High School, his talent on the track has been evident for several years including a feature win at age 14 in the Touring Car B category to become the youngest winner in Pirelli World Challenge history. He also finished second in point in
Last year, Stacy moved to Roush Motorsports to compete in the very competitive GTS class in the Pirelli World Challenge at age 15. Nate scored one top-five and four top-ten finishes while helping Ford win the GTS manufacturers championship in the Ford Boss 302 Mustang.
This year, Stacy was close to winning the GTS main event at St. Petersburg before a mechanical failure knocked the Ford racer out of the race.
To understand how these youngsters have learned so quickly on the track, they all have gone to more digital experiences with IRacing competitions on the computers and in-car video training.
“I’ve been IRacing on my computer to learn the various tracks regularly along with going over ‘in-car’ video from other sources,” said Stacy. “I feel pretty comfortable with the layouts and can’t wait to actually put rubber to asphalt to those tracks. When I get the tracks now, I feel like I know them better each time. The new technology is such a big help now.”
Like Cindric, Gottsacker and Chase are expanding their racing experiences by driving in the Red Bull Global Rallycross as well as the Pirelli World Challenge.
Gottsacker, a junior at Alamo Heights High School in San Antonio, teams up with Chase in driving the new Ginetta GT4 sports car in the GTS division for the Performance Motorsports Group. Gottsacker has scored two top-10s already in 2016 despite a limited schedule in the
Pirelli World Challenge.
“I’ve had a great time so far in the races I’ve run with Performance Motorsports Group in Pirelli World Challenge,” said Gottsacker. “The series is professional and organized. I enjoy the high level of competition the GTS class has to offer. I think I know the car better now. I will be able to really push it towards the front. It’s a bit of a change from the rally car but I like the challenge.”
The early star of the high school racers this year might be Chase, who at 15 enters his sophomore year at Canyon High School in New Braunfels, Tex., and Parker has stepped on the victory podium four times already this year with two second places and two thirds.
As part of Chase’s sensational 2016 performance, the Texas phenom has developed the new Ginetta GT4 sports car into a contender for the winner’s circle as early as this weekend at Road America.
“Right now we have a great package that is capable of winning,” said Chase. “I am thrilled to have come in second, but that is not what we are here for. I want to earn my first win and I want to earn Performance Motorsports Group’s first professional win very badly. The Performance Motorsports Group guys have given me a great car all year and I know I can trust my Ginetta to stay consistent in the race. It’s right at the tips of our fingers, now we just have to grab it.”
Don’t be surprised if one of the high school students stands at the top of the podium in the near future in the Pirelli World Challenge.
In fact, in the Touring Car classes, 15-year-old Henry Morse, a sophomore at Rolling Hills Preparatory School near his Redondo Beach, Calif., home, has scored a victory with his Mazda 2 in the TCB division.
Other high schoolers such as Max Fedler of Denver, Colo., and Sam Adams of Hubertus, Wis., will be part of the action this weekend at Road America when nearly 100 cars will see action on the famed four-mile circuit.
Pirelli World Challenge action gets underway this Thursday (June 23) at Road America with qualifying and racing set for Friday, Saturday and Sunday (June 24-26) in the seven series divisions.