Jaden Conwright doesn’t want to be remembered as the first winner of the IMSA Diverse Driver Development Scholarship. He wants to be the first in a long line of recipients who help open the door to people from all backgrounds interested in pursuing a career in sports car racing.
IMSA named Conwright the recipient of the inaugural Diverse Driver Development Scholarship today. It helps provide the 22-year-old from Newark, California, the opportunity to race in the 2022 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.
“Jaden Conwright is an extremely worthy recipient of the first IMSA Diverse Driver Development Scholarship,” said IMSA President John Doonan. “He has been persistent in climbing the motorsports ladder, showing his talent at all levels along the way. There were many qualified candidates who could have won this scholarship, but when it came to his experience, his knowledge and his ability to manage the financial side of the business, Jaden stood out. We’re confident that with the assistance of this scholarship, Jaden can take his career to the next level in the WeatherTech Championship.”
Conwright was among 10 finalists selected from scholarship applicants, with criteria based on drivers having a strong desire to compete in IMSA, outstanding previous race results and/or proven on-track potential in junior racing categories and the ability to build a compelling business plan for securing the remaining funding needed to compete for a full season in 2022. Support for the scholarship comes from IMSA and partners including Michelin, VP Racing Fuels, OMP, RECARO and LAT Photo USA.
“It’s definitely a big deal,” Conwright said. “I’m super grateful and happy to be the first recipient. I’m just looking forward to working with everyone and trying to create something that will be long term and something that will help introduce more people into IMSA.
“In 15 years, it could be that the recipients of the scholarship can become IMSA ambassadors as a whole and provide insight into the series,” Conwright added. “They could be somebody to look up to and give young drivers something to aim for in IMSA.”
A racing career that began at age 7 in karts and quarter midgets saw Conwright gain his first experience in a race car in Formula 2000 when he was 14. He competed in the Formula 4 Italian Championship at age 16 and went to Asia when he was 18 for FIA F3 Formula Regional Asian Championship competition, finishing in third. He returned to Italy in 2019 to drive in Porsche Carrera Cup Italy, his first experience in a GT car, and was named rookie of the year with 9 podiums in 14 races, before advancing to Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup in 2020.
Conwright made his WeatherTech Championship debut in 2021 in impressive fashion at the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen. Driving for NTe Sport, he qualified third in the GTD class and, along with co-drivers Don Yount and Markus Palttala, finished fourth. The trio also placed ninth in the Motul Petit Le Mans to close the season.
An announcement regarding Conwright’s 2022 WeatherTech Championship team will be made in the coming days. However, in addition to becoming the inaugural IMSA Diverse Driver Development Scholarship recipient, Conwright also has been named a Lamborghini GT3 Junior Driver for 2022. Giorgio Sanna, Lamborghini Head of Motorsport, is pleased to add Conwright to the manufacturer’s lineup.
“I would like to congratulate Jaden for this important step in his career,” Sanna said. “He showed strong performances in the last few years and collected valuable racing experience both in Europe and in America. This award is for sure a well-deserved achievement. Lamborghini Squadra Corse cares a lot about the growth of young drivers as our commitment in Youngster Programmes demonstrates. I wish Jaden a bright 2022 IMSA season at the wheel of our Huracán GT3 EVO.”
Doonan said this first scholarship is just the beginning of what IMSA is striving to become: a more diverse and welcoming paddock for anyone — not just drivers — with a passion to work in the sport.
“IMSA is working with teams and partners to find ways to foster and communicate and allow the next generation to understand what motorsport can be for them,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is create an ecosystem where the mystery is taken out and the barriers have been reduced so that people can come into motorsport if they’re interested — especially in sports car racing — and have an opportunity if they show the talent, the promise and the determination to be successful.”
Conwright and his fellow WeatherTech Championship competitors will get their first official on-track activity of the 2022 season on the weekend of Jan. 21-23 at the Roar Before the Rolex 24 At Daytona. The season officially gets under way with the 60th Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 29-30.