Tristan Nunez, youngest sports car champion in history, is trying to win a much tougher competition—one based on audience appeal, not just racing skill.
The 17-year-old racing prodigy has been chosen as a finalist in the 2013 Champion Auto Parts “Search for Champion” contest; his video explaining what motivates him to be a champion is one of fifteen selected after a month of voting and judge’s review for the final phase of voting, which opened Feb. 22.
“I’m so stoked to be a finalist with Champion Spark Plugs,” said Nunez in a press statement. “We had a lot of fun creating the video at Petit Le Mans last year and I really thought it’d be awesome to be a part of the Champion family.
Nunez, a high-school junior from Florida, could make good use of the $50,000 top prize—he will probably be moving into the American Le Mans Series’ PC class.
“Being able to win this sponsorship would be huge for my program in 2013. With moving up another level in motorsports means more races and bigger budgets. This would be a huge help towards our racing budget for this year.”
Fans of Tristan Nunez can vote once a day at http://www.alwaysachampion.com/contest/entry/1384129.
The fifteen finalists compete in a wide variety of motorsports. Most of the finalists are oval racers, but a pair of drag racers, a motocross rider, a boat racer and a snowmobile racer are included. Nunez is one of three finalists in the Asphalt division, and the only road racer of the bunch.
Finalists’ videos were chosen both by popular vote and after review by NASCAR star Kevin Harvick (who incidentally opened his 2013 season with a win at the Duels at Daytona.)
“Thousands of grassroots racers are looking for exactly this type of support to help them win championships in 2013, and the Champion brand is ready to make it happen for a second straight year,” Harvick said.
“The videos are fantastic this year, which tells us that each of these talented racers has as much passion for their sport as I do for auto racing. And it shows that they’d love nothing more than to take their racing programs to the next level with a Champion sponsorship.”
For Tristan Nunez, winning the “Search for a Champion” would help advance a career already studded with victories: He started at age 11, winning multiple karting championships, then progressed to the various Skip Barber series, where he won Southern Series Rookie of the Year and Summer Series championship in 2010.
In 2012, his first full season of racing the talented teen became the youngest sports car champion in history, winning 11 of 14 races in the IMSA Prototypes Lites series, winning a dozen poles and setting seven track records.
Nunez followed up his Lites championship by winning the Team USA scholarship, which sent him to England where he faced the 120 best Formula Ford racers in the world. Despite being in an unfamiliar car on an unfamiliar track in terrible weather, Nunez beat the best to win the Walter Hayes Trophy.
2013 is already off to an excellent start. Nunez was chosen to co-drive one of Mazda’s new GX-class Mazda6 Skyactiv diesels at the prestigious Grand Am Rolex 24 at Daytona. He went on from there to test an ALMS PC car at Sebring, where he showed he could go as fast as the class veterans.
Tristan will be back in action in the No. 00 Speedsource/Visit Florida Mazda at the Rolex series’ Grand-Am of The Americas at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas on march 2. Tickets are available through Grand-Am.com, or watch Tristan in action on Speed-TV, where the race will air on March 2 starting at 5:30 p.m. ET.
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