Porsche Hosts Young Driver Academy
In the two-day academy at Birmingham, Alabama’s Barber Motorsports Park, drivers benefit from on-track assessment by Porsche racing legend and lead driving instructor at the Porsche Sport Driving School (PSSD), Hurley Haywood (St. Augustine, Fla.), Porsche factory driver Patrick Long (Playa del Rey, Calif.) and 2011 Rolex GT Champion Andrew Davis (Athens, Ga.).
“I believe we have adopted the very best of what I learned with the Porsche Junior program early in my career and focused it into a couple of very intense days at the Academy,” said Long, who won a spot on the Porsche Junior Team in 2002 before becoming the only current American Porsche factory driver in 2004. “We throw everything we can at these drivers in a very short period of time, from the classroom to the track. We monitor everything they do, how they do it and how they react doing it. It’s a whole picture approach. No matter what happens in the future with their career, they will benefit from the time here if they choose to.”
The inaugural Young Driver Academy class of 2012 has had its opportunities to follow Porsche’s recommendations and excel this season. The results have proven Porsche’s founding concept that the Young Driver Academy is to help nurture and develop driving talent in a wide range of series.
After attending the academy in 2012, Cooper MacNeil (Boulder, Col.) is in the process of defending his American Le Mans Series GT Challenge (GTC) championship in the WeatherTech Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car. He currently leads the 2013 championship by nine points with three events remaining. This success comes despite MacNeil being a full-time student at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Kyle Marcelli (Canada) split his time in 2013 between ALMS Prototype Challenge, where he scored a second place finish at Sebring, and Porsche Carrera Cup Germany, where his Academy recommendation gave him the opportunity to run select races with the German team Molitor Racing and to participate in the Porsche Supercup tryouts. The experience gave Marcelli a taste of world-class GT racing in a series in which most of the current Porsche factory drivers cut their teeth.
Sean Johnston won the 2012 IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama prior to attending the Academy. He is currently running selected Porsche Carrera Cup Germany and Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup races with Team Project 1. He has used his partnership with Tom Driscoll, owner of Driscoll’s berries – the largest berry farm in the U.S. – along with his Academy recommendation, to gain invaluable experience. The Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup races in conjunction with Formula 1 all over the world.