Veteran racer and champion Scott Pruett to retire after Rolex 24

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The first seismic news of the new season shook the racing world Friday – and it was nothing short of an earthquake.

Veteran racer Scott Pruett, who is competing in his 50th year of racing, announced Friday afternoon at Daytona International Speedway that he will climb from behind the wheel for the final time following the Rolex 24 at Daytona on Jan. 27-28.

“I have met a lot of wonderful people and have had some amazing experiences because of my motorsports career,” Pruett said. “I am humbled and grateful for all of my accomplishments and to all of those who have helped me along the way.

“At the end of the day, the good Lord has blessed me with a great career and a wonderful, supportive family. I’m excited and ready to open the next chapter. I might slow down a little, but I won’t stop for fear I’d rust.”

This is Pruett’s 50th year in racing, beginning in 1968 as an eight-year-old go-kart competitor.

He’s earned a record 60 wins in American sports car competition, including a record-tying five overall wins in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

He hopes to end his illustrious career with one more Rolex win, which would make him the all-time Rolex winner.

In addition, he’s a five-time Rolex Grand-Am Champion (2004, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012) and two-time IMSA champion (1986 and 1988).

Pruett, who turns 58 in March, will compete in this year’s Rolex 24 for 3GT Racing in the No. 15 Lexus RC F GT3. He’ll be teamed with co-drivers Dominik Farnbacher, Jack Hawksworth and David Heinemeier Hansson.

“Daytona is a magical place for me and I love it,” Pruett said. “I’ve always said the Rolex 24 at Daytona is like the Super Bowl of Motorsports because you’re bringing the best of the best from all over the world and the challenge of both man and machine is fierce.

“What better way to say goodbye to the sport I love than at this revered place, surrounded by my respected peers and die-hard fans.”

In addition to his prolific sports car career, Pruett has also mastered several other series, collecting 88 combined wins.

He spent 10 years in the now-defunct CART series from 1988 to 1999, earning 2 wins, 5 poles, 15 podium appearances and was 1989 Indianapolis 500 co-rookie of the year.

He also was a standout in the SCCA Trans Am Series, earning 24 wins and capturing three championships (1987, 1994 and 2003).

He also competed part-time in NASCAR from 2000 to 2008, with best finishes of second and third place in the Cup Series.

He also earned two wins in eight seasons of IROC competition. He also was a class winner in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2001.

Off-track, he was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame and the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame last year, adding to being enshrined in the World Karting Hall of Fame in 1991 after 10 karting championships.

He also received the prestigious Phil Hill Award of Excellence in 2016 and is a 10-time recipient of the AARWBA (American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association) award.

Pruett and wife Judy have published four children’s books and they also own and operate Pruett Vineyard in his native Northern California, which produces ultra-premium wines.

Other career achievements include visiting U.S. troops in the Persian Gulf, carrying the torch for the 2000 Winter Olympics and work with several charities including Make-A-Wish Foundation and Give Kids the World.

But don’t think Pruett’s retirement means he’ll move from a driver’s seat to a rocking chair. On the contrary, he plans to remain busy, including in the racing world, including continuing his partnership with Lexus.

“Instead of retirement, I prefer to call it transitioning into my next phase,” Pruett said. “I’ll be refocusing all of that energy and passion towards other areas of my life.

“Spending more time with my wife and kids will be the first thing on my list. I am very excited and honored to continue my partnership with Lexus. I am also honored to be an Ambassador for Rolex and of course Pruett Vineyard keeps me busy.”

Lessons learned in three rounds of Extreme E pay huge dividends in the Copper X Prix for Tanner Foust

Foust Copper X Prix
McLaren Racing
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To paraphrase the Grateful Dead, what a long, unique trip it’s been for Tanner Foust in his first season with the Extreme E series as he took his early season lessons to Chile to compete in the Copper X Prix. And he’s learned his lessons well.

In February, McLaren announced they would expand their motorsports program with an Extreme E entry. They signed two talented rally drivers in Foust and Emma Gilmour – and paired them for the opening round in Neom, Saudi Arabia with just a few days of testing under their belts. Baked by the Arabian desert sun, it was trial by fire.

The duo performed well in their debut, advancing into the final round and finishing fifth. As Extreme E headed to another desert halfway across the globe for Round 4, it was a good time to catch up with Foust and ask about McLaren’s progress. The Copper X Prix was held this past weekend in one of the most extreme regions in the world: the Atacama Desert.

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“The shock going into the first race was the speed,” Foust told NBC Sports. “It was much higher than we had tested. We spent a lot of time around 100 miles per hour [in race trim] and our testing speeds were more in the 60 to 70-mile range. Then, once we sort of got around that, the car got updated so you can drive it even faster.”

In rally racing, some incidents are out of a driver’s control. Even peeking around another car can be dangerous because of potholes that have recently been gouged in the ground or large bushes that seem to sprout up between laps. A couple of rollovers brought Foust back to earth – but the pace was there and that was important.

“We had some challenges this season,” Foust said prior to the Copper X Prix. “We had a good start; made the final, which is a difficult thing to do in this series. I had two rolls in the first three events, but I have improved each time. Now we come into Round 4 in Chile in a pretty strong position. We have competitive times as a team. We are communicating really well and have our heads around this Odyssey vehicle.”

Foust’s words proved to be prophetic.

He won the Crazy Race – Extreme E’s version of a Last Chance Qualifier – and did so after passing the field. It was the same manner in which he qualified for Saudi Arabia’s finale, but this time things would be better. There were those hard-earned lessons on which to lean – and Foust had reps under his belt. He was not going to be caught off guard by any random obstacles.

Tanner Foust passed Sebastien Loeb heading to the Switch Zone in the Copper X Prix. (Photo by Sam Bagnall / LAT Images)

In the Copper X Prix finale, he pressured one of the best rally drivers in the history of the sport.

Pitching sideways through a tight left-hander late in his stint, Foust put his McLaren Extreme E Odyssey at the head of the pack in front of Sebastien Loeb as they headed to the Switch Zone. There, he would turn the car over to his co-driver Gilmour.

The Extreme E series pairs male and female drivers with both taking a turn behind the wheel.

After the driver change, Gilmour lost the lead momentarily to Loeb’s teammate Cristina Gutierrez, but as they charged toward the finish line, she surged ahead and crossed under the checkers first.

“What an improvement for the team over this year,” Foust said after the race. “We have struggled through some of the events, being in our first year in competition. We showed true pace this weekend; overtaking Sebastien Loeb was a highlight.

“Emma put in a great run in the Final. I was fortunate to go from last to first in the Crazy Race and then first in the Final but with some flag penalties, we had 20 seconds added to our time, which put us into fifth. It was a great feeling crossing the line first, I love this wide style track and the NEOM McLaren Odyssey was fantastic here.

“Hopefully we can continue that momentum into Uruguay.”

Loeb and Gutierrez were elevated to the top of the podium, but no one can take away the feeling of crossing under the checkers first.


Racing Responsibly

Since cars were first invented, racing has played a socially responsible role by improving safety. As Earth reaches a tipping point with climate change, racing needs to adapt to these new needs and requirements, which is where Extreme E’s unique strategy becomes increasingly important.

The Extreme E experience is more than simple racing. Each race is accompanied by a legacy program designed to offset damage done by climate change and to erase the footprint caused by the events.

Foust, a biology major from the University of Colorado, was given the chance to rekindle his interest and give back to the environment ahead of the Copper X Prix.

The Atacama is the oldest desert in the world at 150 million years. It is the driest place on earth and has the highest degree of ultraviolet light. And yet somehow life perseveres through underground rivers with oases dating back to Incan times. Foust participated in preparing a local habitat for the reintroduction of a critically endangered water frog to Chile’s longest river, the Loa, which snakes its way through the desert.

“I’m loving the experience,” Foust said. “I’m putting on a lot of Chapstick, a lot of sunscreen. What a fascinating part of the world. I never would have come here otherwise.

“I honestly am very honored to be a part of this sport. I am a huge believer in the fact that motorsports has done us good in the last 100 years. I think we benefit every single time we put our seatbelts on and drive down the road to the lessons learned in racing since the turn of the century. And I really hope motorsports continues that tradition.

“I think that motorsports like [Extreme E] does it in a responsible way, a gender-neutral way and a carbon-neutral way.”