After winning a Team USA Scholarship in 2013 and then working his up the Mazda Road to Indy open-wheel ladder, Jake Eidson made the switch this year to sports car racing. He was immediately impressive, claiming the inaugural Hurley Haywood Scholarship and then going on to win the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama at his first attempt.
Middle of last year I decided to make a big move and transition from my open-wheel background to sports cars by racing in a one-off IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama race at Road America. It was a bit of a gamble not knowing if I could even figure out how to drive a much heavier and more powerful car. I was a little nervous going into the first session but the handling of the car seemed to fit my driving style and I was able to be on pace quite quickly. We finished the weekend with two second-place finishes and I knew right away this is what I wanted to do for 2017.
Fast forward a few months, we were speaking with Kelly-Moss Road and Race (the team we joined for Road America) and tried very hard to put together a program for the 2017 season. However, the financial support wasn’t quite there and we needed some additional help. We heard about the Hurley Haywood Scholarship which is backed by IMSA, Yokohama and Porsche. It’s designed to help rookies participate in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge who don’t have enough financial resources. I applied for the scholarship and several weeks later I got the call from Hurley Haywood himself informing me that I had won the scholarship. It was a day I’ll never forget and I was extremely grateful for this opportunity to race in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge with Kelly-Moss.
Another opportunity I had the chance to be a small part of was the “Racing for Children’s” foundation. This incredible organization allows kids with cancer and other illnesses to come to Barber Motorsports Park and enjoy the sights and sounds of racing. It was difficult not getting emotional after meeting some of the kids and their families and hearing some of their stories, but we had one job, which was putting smiles on as many faces as possible, which I enjoyed every minute of. If you wish to learn more, here is a link to their website: https://racingforchildrens.org/.
Throughout the season we had many ups and downs but from the first race at Sebring in March to our last race at Road Atlanta this October, we had one goal of winning the championship and we did it. It’s difficult to put into words how much hard work and problem solving it takes to turn a dream into a reality. The biggest reason for our success this year is simply all the people that put in countless hours of hard work and determination every day to make this possible.
One last memory I would like to share and has to be one of the biggest moments in my racing career so far was being able to travel to Lausitzring, Germany and participate in the Porsche Junior shootout. Having the chance to work with the Porsche factory team and compete again some of the best Carrera Cup drivers from their respective countries was a chance of a lifetime. Winning the shootout or not it was still an incredible opportunity and I’m so thankful for everyone that has helped get me here.
This season has been an amazing journey and I can’t wait to see what next year brings. I also want to congratulate Jonathan Kotyk and Aaron Jeansonne on their success and wish you guys best of luck in the Walter Hayes Trophy!