Teen Racer Tristan Nunez Wins 2012 Team USA Scholarship
By James Fish On September 25, 2012 @ 1:14 pm In Motorsports | No Comments
Sixteen-year-old Tristan Nunez of Boca Raton Fla. has been named as one of three recipients of the 2012 Team USA Scholarship for outstanding young racing talents.
Nunez, who in his rookie season in IMSA Cooper Prototype Lites has racked up an amazing 10 wins in 12 races and 7 track records for fastest lap, is also the youngest winner in series history. Now his career will get a boost from this most prestigious racing scholarship. Past winners include NASCAR, IndyCar and ALMS stars A.J. Allmendinger, Jimmy Vasser, Bryan Herta, Josef Newgarden, Charlie Kimball, J.R. Hildebrand, Joey Hand, and Bryan Sellers.
The Team USA scholarship was created in 1990 by racing journalist and broadcaster Jeremy Shaw when he saw that talented American drivers had a hard time finding financing to advance their careers.
After concluding the 2012 Lites season, Team USA will send Nunez to England to compete in the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch on October 27-28 and the following weekend’s Walter Hayes Trophy at Silverstone on November 3-4. This will expose the teenager to European and international racing teams, opening the door to future employment.
“Being selected for the Team USA scholarship is a huge honor and a dream come true,” Nunez said in a press statement. “I’m excited for all I’m going to learn while in England for this opportunity. I’m really grateful for this and I have to thank Jeremy Shaw and everyone involved in the Team USA Scholarship process for selecting me to represent this year.”
Nunez was among eight finalists who were tested in a two-day shootout in simulators and on track, where his ability earned him the scholarship.
Triumphant Rookie Season
Tristan Nunez started driving karts at age eleven and quickly progressed to the Skip Barber single-seat series where he earned 2010 Rookie of the Year and the Summer Series championship. In 2011 the Florida teen got his first rides in an IMSA Lites car, earning two second-place finishes in four races.
Nunez started racing full-time in 2012, driving an Élan DP02 for Performance Tech Motorsports (he attends a young sports star high school with flexible scheduling which allows students to participate in events.) In 12 races he has 11 poles and 11 podiums and leads the series by 39 points.
If Nunez scores just two points (a 14th-place finish) in either of the two Road Atlanta races in late October, the title is his. If 14 or fewer cars start, the Performance Tech driver would just need to finish one of the two races to seal the deal.
If Nunez wins the title, he will add one more record: youngest champion in IMSA Lites history.
It is unlikely the string of records will end there. If the young driver doesn’t get hired by a European team, he can stay with Performance Tech and either compete in IMSA Lites again or advance to their American Le Mans Series LMPC class in 2013.
“I am hoping to take the ladder to the LMPC car and then LMP1—American Le Mans or Le Mans, any type of endurance racing,” said in an interview at Sebring in 2011.If he moved to the ALMS he would be racing with some of the fastest drivers in the world—including Team USA winners Joey Hand, Brian Sellers and Andy Lally.
Faced with such fierce competition, Nunez might take some time adjusting, but like Hand, Sellers, and Lally, it would probably be just a matter of time until he was again setting records and winning races and championships.
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