As a whole-time driver in the LMP2 courses of each the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the European-primarily based Earth Endurance Championship, American Josh Pierson is doubling his racing enjoyable this 12 months.
He’s driving some of the world’s most extraordinary race automobiles and competing with some of the greatest motorists in the small business on some of the world’s largest and most historic phases. Later this month, he’ll be racing in the 24 Hrs of Le Mans.
No tension. No pressure at all.
And we pretty much forgot to point out one particular detail. Josh just turned 16 in February.
“Thankfully, I believe folks are rather very good about just looking at my difficult card and allowing me wander in,” Pierson explained to Autoweek when asked if his youthful appear has been a variable in something as easy as finding inside the ropes on race weekends. “But I assume in basic, I experienced a few of gate staff at IMSA for the Rolex 24 that type of double-glanced at me and probably questioned them selves when I walked as a result of when I experienced my driver hard card.
“But no 1 has stopped me however.”
These days, rivals are also undertaking double-usually takes at the timing and scoring sheets that display this 16-year-outdated racer in the thick of championship picture in both collection.
Pierson drives the PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Oreca LMP2 in the IMSA WeatherTech series. He is also racing complete time for Zak Brown’s United Autosports United states entry in the Environment Endurance Championship, along with veterans Oliver Jarvis and Alex Lynn. Pierson is fifth in the IMSA LMP2 drivers’ details standings, and he sits second in the early heading in the WEC factors. Pierson, Lynn, and Jarvis gained their class and placed fourth total at the WEC 1000 Miles of Sebring before this spring.
Lynn suggests that Pierson is a driver who surely does not act his age at the monitor.
“There is certainly a couple of drivers who have bucked the age trend just lately, one of them remaining (F1 champion) Max Verstappen,” Lynn explained to Autoweek. “I consider it truly is truly opened my eyes when somebody has the schooling and, normally, 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 accurately old—I sense like we are similar age.
“He’s really mature for his several years. The headline is his age, but when you satisfy him, you would by no means say that.”
Pierson is not from a family of racers so much as from a spouse and children that enjoys racing.
“For a bulk of time, in particular not obtaining any track record information about really the ideal path, we did not actually have a huge plan of what we ended up receiving into,” Pierson reported. “It was more of just like acquiring the proper people, and eventually it led to traveling all more than the put. We never ever seriously assumed it would go where by it has gone.
“I imagine I was 7 or 8 when we began executing the vacation. I do not know if we assumed it was going to go there, but it was a thing that me and my dad equally savored, and he loved coming to the track and looking at me study and have a improved result at each individual function. I cherished the racing and being guiding the wheel, seeking to continue to keep pursuing it, and holding it going.”
Achievements for the Oregon native arrived early and normally.
“Motorsports in basic is not a usual activity to select up when you are a kid,” Pierson stated. “I am unquestionably the one that wished to do it. It was not some thing that was compelled on me or a thing I did not want to do. I was pursuing it at a quite youthful age, and I have always required to do it. It was one thing I picked up on my personal. I do not come from a relatives of racing drivers. My dad did a little regional SCCA stuff, but he did not definitely have a specialist profession in motor racing, so I was the 1st individual in my loved ones who preferred to pursue it as a profession.
“It is been that way from the commencing, and I have been chasing this aspiration and nevertheless am.”
Pierson’s 1st practical experience driving open up-wheel cars came in the F1600 sequence at age 13. At 14 and 15, he was the youngest driver on the grid in the Street To Indy’s USF2000. He states his massive break arrived after paying some time with driving coach Stephen Simpson, who was serving to Pierson during his time in the Road to Indy ladder. Simpson experienced what turned out to be an invaluable racing relationship in previous British racing driver Richard Dean, who is the co-founder of United Autosports.
“Stephen Simpson has been truly valuable in operating with me and training me some points that possibly I didn’t know that could be used later on,” Pierson explained. “I feel in common, he saw prospective in the sporting activities-motor vehicle aspect of factors with me. In the long run, that assisted organize a take a look at session and confirmed me that I experienced what it took to do it.”
Pierson’s lifestyle-shifting test session with United Autosports—at age 15—came at a relatively unlikely spot. It was a circuit wherever he experienced to indicator a waiver to even be authorized on the track.
“It was a test in Austria at the Purple Bull Ring,” Pierson stated. “It is a attractive track, and it was my to start with time in their P2 car. When you go into these test classes, you know deep down that there is a whole lot on the line. If they like you, they’ll want you to race with them, and it is significant to do perfectly. But that’s not truly my mentality, due to the fact if you feel about that, you place a ton of stress on oneself.
“For me, any new take a look at in a new auto, no subject what I’m performing, it is constantly for me just using it session by session and little by little building up the pace to a rapid pace—kind of figuring out the car and not seeking to hurry into matters. In Austria, it was taking issues step by stage and gradually constructing up velocity and at some point, I think It was the subsequent 7 days when we ended up house, we received a letter stating they needed us to do the complete Earth Stamina Championship season.
“It was sort of what started this whole insane thought of racing LMP2 this yr. To be honest, if it wasn’t for the connections, I would still be on the Road to Indy, seeking to progress by he ladder with the scholarships to IndyCar. We’re a approaches into it now, and we have 3 wins on the global stage. It’s a little something incredible.”
Two of these wins arrived at Abu Dhabi in the Asian Le Mans Series, exactly where he shared driving duties with previous Formula 1 driver Paul Di Resta.
Veteran Renger van der Zande, who drives a Cadillac Racing DPi in the IMSA WeatherTech Sports activities Car Championship, is not all that amazed that a 16-12 months-old can not only race in these major collection, but race for wins.
“The funny issue is that factors are modifying,” van der Zande instructed Autoweek. “These men are on their PlayStations from when they are 5, 7 yrs outdated, racing. In the past, that wasn’t the case. Individuals would get their initially go at a go-kart when they had been 10, and now they are getting them at 5. I set my daughter—she’s 5 yrs old—in a go-kart the other working day.
“And then you are acquiring completely ready for cars and trucks when you’re 10 or 12, and then at 16 you can race in these kind of championships. It truly is just awesome.”
Van der Zande, 36, claimed that he was still racing in karts when he was 16.
Pierson, meanwhile, is nevertheless obtaining employed to the endurance racing attitude that features sharing the auto with teammates on race day.
“It’s an interesting feeling due to the fact my complete career I’ve just been employed to driving with me, myself, and I,” Pierson claimed. “It was anything distinctive to get utilized to, having various motorists in the auto. But the issue of it adding more stress with understanding that if you screw up, you’re not just screwing up for oneself, I assume there’s one more way you can glance at it that relieves a lot of that strain.”
Here’s exactly where that smart-further than-his-yrs issue kicks in.
“And that’s the sense that because you have a number of divers in the automobile, you don’t automatically require to be the speediest driver, and you really don’t essentially have to have to be the hero,” Pierson mentioned. “If you glance at it that way and you feel, ‘I’ve obtained a few other men in the car who are serving to me all through this race,’ I don’t will need to be the hero that goes out and passes all people and wins the race, mainly because which is not achievable.
“So, you can look at it that way, and say, ‘Well, they’re likely to assist me do this race, and it’s my position just to keep the automobile in just one piece and maintain it heading. I’m not the Platinum or the Gold driver, so hence I do not have to be racing the Platinum or the other Gold motorists. I can just concentrate on racing the Silvers, and that’s my task. And I can focus on finding my motor vehicle again to the pits cleanly and obtaining out.
“When you seem at it that way, it relieves a large amount of the tension. It’s a crew sport, and they’re there, and we all know that as motorists, screwing up is not a little something that we need to be extremely apprehensive about. It’s going to transpire. It’s bound to come about, and it has transpired.”
Upcoming up on the high school sophomore’s plan is the 24 Several hours of Le Mans June 11-12.
“I’ve grown up observing the race, and so I’m incredibly fired up to get on keep track of and experience the keep track of for the to start with time,” he explained. “It’s a distinctive area with a unique atmosphere, and I simply cannot wait to get out there and push.”
No tension. No stress at all.