16-Year-Old Josh Pierson Proving He Belongs in IMSA, WEC Title Chases

Photo credit: Jakob Ebrey/Courtesy Greg Pierson

Image credit history: Jakob Ebrey/Courtesy Greg Pierson

As a comprehensive-time driver in the LMP2 lessons of the two the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the European-dependent Planet Stamina Championship, American Josh Pierson is doubling his racing exciting this year.

He is driving some of the world’s most unbelievable race cars and competing with some of the greatest drivers in the company on some of the world’s greatest and most historic levels. Afterwards this thirty day period, he’ll be racing in the 24 Several hours of Le Mans.

No tension. No tension at all.

And we nearly forgot to mention a person issue. Josh just turned 16 in February.

“Fortuitously, I believe individuals are pretty superior about just viewing my difficult card and letting me walk in,” Pierson told Autoweek when requested if his youthful glance has been a variable in one thing as very simple as acquiring within the ropes on race weekends. “But I feel in basic, I experienced a pair of gate workers at IMSA for the Rolex 24 that form of double-glanced at me and possibly questioned them selves when I walked by way of when I experienced my driver difficult card.

“But no a single has stopped me nevertheless.”

Photo credit: IMSA

Photo credit history: IMSA

These times, rivals are also accomplishing double-normally takes at the timing and scoring sheets that present this 16-yr-aged racer in the thick of championship photograph in each collection.

Pierson drives the PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Oreca LMP2 in the IMSA WeatherTech collection. He’s also racing entire time for Zak Brown’s United Autosports United states entry in the Globe Endurance Championship, together with veterans Oliver Jarvis and Alex Lynn. Pierson is fifth in the IMSA LMP2 drivers’ factors standings, and he sits 2nd in the early heading in the WEC points. Pierson, Lynn, and Jarvis gained their course and positioned fourth total at the WEC 1000 Miles of Sebring earlier this spring.

Lynn says that Pierson is a driver who unquestionably does not act his age at the observe.

“There is certainly a number of drivers who have bucked the age craze lately, one of them currently being (F1 winner) Max Verstappen,” Lynn advised Autoweek. “I think it can be truly opened my eyes when an individual has the schooling and, by natural means, I would say the aptitude that Josh has. He is 16, but when you discuss to him, the way he acts—I’m 28, not specifically old—I truly feel like we’re related age.

“He is really mature for his yrs. The headline is his age, but when you fulfill him, you would by no means say that.”

Photo credit: Greg Pierson

Image credit history: Greg Pierson

Pierson is not from a family members of racers so much as from a spouse and children that enjoys racing.

“For a the vast majority of time, especially not acquiring any qualifications facts about genuinely the very best route, we did not definitely have a significant thought of what we have been receiving into,” Pierson explained. “It was a lot more of just like locating the appropriate men and women, and eventually it led to traveling all above the place. We in no way definitely assumed it would go in which it has long gone.

“I consider I was 7 or 8 when we started out doing the travel. I don’t know if we assumed it was going to go there, but it was a little something that me and my father both of those liked, and he cherished coming to the monitor and observing me learn and have a better result at each and every event. I liked the racing and getting driving the wheel, wanting to retain pursuing it, and trying to keep it heading.”

Achievements for the Oregon indigenous came early and typically.

“Motorsports in typical isn’t a regular activity to pick up when you are a child,” Pierson said. “I’m unquestionably the a single that wished to do it. It wasn’t something that was pressured on me or a thing I did not want to do. I was pursuing it at a really young age, and I have normally wished to do it. It was one thing I picked up on my have. I really do not arrive from a household of racing motorists. My father did a minor regional SCCA things, but he did not really have a professional career in motor racing, so I was the very first particular person in my spouse and children who preferred to go after it as a job.

“It is been that way from the beginning, and I have been chasing this desire and still am.”

Photo credit: Greg Pierson

Picture credit history: Greg Pierson

Pierson’s 1st encounter driving open-wheel vehicles arrived in the F1600 series at age 13. At 14 and 15, he was the youngest driver on the grid in the Road To Indy’s USF2000. He claims his huge crack arrived right after spending some time with driving coach Stephen Simpson, who was aiding Pierson during his time in the Street to Indy ladder. Simpson experienced what turned out to be an a must have racing link in former British racing driver Richard Dean, who is the co-founder of United Autosports.

“Stephen Simpson has been genuinely useful in performing with me and training me some factors that maybe I didn’t know that could be employed later on on,” Pierson stated. “I believe in standard, he observed likely in the sports-motor vehicle aspect of factors with me. Ultimately, that helped arrange a take a look at session and showed me that I had what it took to do it.”

Pierson’s daily life-shifting test session with United Autosports—at age 15—came at a rather not likely location. It was a circuit in which he had to sign a waiver to even be allowed on the track.

“It was a take a look at in Austria at the Crimson Bull Ring,” Pierson explained. “It is a lovely observe, and it was my to start with time in their P2 car or truck. When you go into these check classes, you know deep down that there is a ton on the line. If they like you, they’ll want you to race with them, and it is essential to do very well. But that’s not truly my mentality, since if you imagine about that, you put a great deal of tension on oneself.

“For me, any new check in a new vehicle, no issue what I’m executing, it is normally for me just getting it session by session and little by little constructing up the speed to a speedy pace—kind of figuring out the motor vehicle and not hoping to rush into things. In Austria, it was taking points phase by action and slowly and gradually developing up pace and inevitably, I imagine It was the upcoming week when we were residence, we received a letter declaring they needed us to do the complete World Endurance Championship time.

“It was kind of what started this full insane strategy of racing LMP2 this calendar year. To be genuine, if it wasn’t for the connections, I would nonetheless be on the Road to Indy, attempting to progress by way of he ladder with the scholarships to IndyCar. We’re a means into it now, and we have three wins on the intercontinental stage. It is a little something remarkable.”

Two of those wins came at Abu Dhabi in the Asian Le Mans Sequence, the place he shared driving duties with former Components 1 driver Paul Di Resta.

Photo credit: Greg Pierson

Photograph credit rating: Greg Pierson

Veteran Renger van der Zande, who drives a Cadillac Racing DPi in the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Automobile Championship, is not all that amazed that a 16-calendar year-outdated can not only race in these top series, but race for wins.

“The humorous matter is that points are switching,” van der Zande advised Autoweek. “These guys are on their PlayStations from when they are 5, 7 a long time outdated, racing. In the past, that wasn’t the situation. People would get their initial go at a go-kart when they ended up 10, and now they are getting them at 5. I set my daughter—she’s 5 decades old—in a go-kart the other day.

“And then you’re having all set for cars and trucks when you’re 10 or 12, and then at 16 you can race in these kind of championships. It is just amazing.”

Van der Zande, 36, mentioned that he was however racing in karts when he was 16.

Pierson, in the meantime, is continue to obtaining made use of to the endurance racing mentality that contains sharing the motor vehicle with teammates on race day.

“It is an attention-grabbing sensation because my complete career I’ve just been utilized to driving with me, myself, and I,” Pierson reported. “It was a thing various to get used to, acquiring many motorists in the car or truck. But the place of it incorporating far more stress with figuring out that if you screw up, you’re not just screwing up for by yourself, I consider there’s a different way you can look at it that relieves a good deal of that tension.”

Here’s where that wise-over and above-his-years thing kicks in.

“And which is the sense that for the reason that you have numerous divers in the automobile, you never necessarily have to have to be the quickest driver, and you don’t essentially require to be the hero,” Pierson reported. “If you seem at it that way and you think, ‘I’ve obtained 3 other men in the auto who are aiding me in the course of this race,’ I really do not have to have to be the hero that goes out and passes everyone and wins the race, simply because that’s not feasible.

“So, you can glimpse at it that way, and say, ‘Well, they are likely to enable me do this race, and it’s my career just to retain the vehicle in one piece and keep it likely. I’m not the Platinum or the Gold driver, so consequently I will not have to be racing the Platinum or the other Gold drivers. I can just aim on racing the Silvers, and that is my work. And I can emphasis on obtaining my auto again to the pits cleanly and having out.

“When you look at it that way, it relieves a lot of the force. It is a team sport, and they are there, and we all know that as drivers, screwing up is not anything that we ought to be extremely fearful about. It is heading to materialize. It’s sure to take place, and it has occurred.”

Subsequent up on the high school sophomore’s agenda is the 24 Hrs of Le Mans June 11-12.

“I have grown up seeing the race, and so I’m pretty fired up to get on monitor and knowledge the keep track of for the initial time,” he explained. “It is a exceptional location with a one of a kind atmosphere, and I cannot wait around to get out there and travel.”

No strain. No tension at all.