Nunez Wins First Half of Road America Doubleheader

By Chris Jasurek
Chris Jasurek
Chris Jasurek
August 11, 2013 Updated: August 11, 2013

Seventeen-year-old Tristan Nunez has been setting records pretty much since he started racing—youngest driver in this series, youngest winner in that one, youngest pro driver to race and win on some other tracks; plus the more usual race lap and qualifying lap records, because not only is Nunez a teenager, he is as fast as the veteran pros.

Nunez proved that Saturday as he and co-driver Joel Miller earned their third GX class win in the Rolex Sports Car 250, beating the very speedy Spencer Pumpelly across the line by 4.5 seconds.

Most drivers in the Rolex field would spend Saturday night celebrating the win with their crews, but not Nunez: the Florida teenager will be resting up, preparing for his second race of the weekend. Nunez will be competing in Sunday’s American Le Mans Series Orion Energy Systems 245, driving the PC-class #18 Performance Tech Oreca-Chevrolet.

Nunez starts seventh ion class in the ALMS race—an unfortunate spin while he was second in qualifying cost him a chance to take the PC pole. He had to sit in the pits watching the competition improve their times. His grid position will be no more than a minor obstacle; the high-school senior has consistently proved himself to be as quick as or quicker than his more experienced opposition.

Even if he wins the Orion Energy Systems 245 he be won’t be celebrating Sunday night, because Monday morning, he needs to be back in school.

“This is going to be one heck of a weekend,” said Nunez in s press statement before the pair of events.

“Jumping from the PC car and the Mazda6 Skyactiv diesel is surely going to be a challenge but it’s what I’ve been training for all year. This couldn’t have been at a better track either. I’ve had a lot of history at this terrific track from Skip Barber to Prototype Lites—to be in both of these extraordinary cars racing on the same weekend is a dream come true!”

Nunez, who started carting at the age of eleven, became the youngest driver to win a national sports car championship with his domination performance in IMSA Prototypes Lites in 2012. In his first year as a pro, he has scored a handful of podium finishes in both series, and has impressed everyone from racing journalists to TV announcers to team owners to fans with his speed and his race craft.

The question on everyone’s mind is, where will this speedy teenager go in 2014, when Rolex and ALMS merge to form the United SportsCar Racing series? According to Nunez, “Right now it’s a bunch of unknowns.”

If the choice were his to make, Nunez would stay as a factory driver with Mazda.

“I really want to stay with Mazda—that’s my passion right now,” Nunez told Speed-TV during the Rolex race. “I’ve been with them for so long, ever since Skip Barber, so If I can stay with them through the merger that would be fantastic.”

Wherever this young driver ends up will be fantastic for the lucky team, and for the fans. Tristan Nunez is already a star, and as he gains experience, he will only get faster. Look out, Le Mans 24—Tristan Nunez is headed for the top step of your podium.

Chris Jasurek