Imagine being 21 years old and having your name in the history books as a two-time winner at the 12 Hours of Sebring.
That’s the reality Scott Huffaker has come to know as a member of the PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports LMP2 team, and for the young Californian who got his start in open-wheel racing, his emergence as a talent to watch in IMSA’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship has come as a surprise.
“I started off going the formula car route, and I did the Team USA Scholarship in 2019, but I’ve never done the Road to Indy,” he told RACER. “I’d been running with PR1 since 2016 with formula cars on the West Coast, and they obviously run in IMSA and the model there seemed a lot more consistent for getting someone to a pro level. It felt like with PR1, getting to the top level might be a little bit easier, so that’s why I decided to go this route.”
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Huffaker was thoroughly impressive during his trip to England while representing Team USA. Earning a podium finish at the prestigious Walter Hayes Trophy Formula Ford event, the Bay Area native got the most out of the experience. But with a lack of funding to continue pursuing his open-wheel dream with a full-season campaign, Huffaker needed to find a scenario where his racing education would continue in an arena that was more affordable. PR1’s No. 52 ORECA 07-Gibson LMP2, with teammates in young pro Mikkel Jensen and top-tier amateur Ben Keating, has offered everything he needed.
“My family, we don’t have a ton of money to spend on racing, so I knew that with every race I did, I had to make the absolute most of it,” he said. “It’s been starting to go really well. I’m starting to get some traction in IMSA and I’ve learned a lot. Even just these last two races, I think my driving as a whole has gotten so much better from being able to work with Mikkel.
“The biggest thing for me is you have breakthroughs in your driving. You progress and then you plateau a little bit, and then you get through a breakthrough and then plateau… I feel like I’m at a point where I’m getting close to where the top drivers are, and I wasn’t able to develop like that in formula cars. I’ll be working with Mikkel Jensen all season, and I don’t think I could have gotten this far anywhere else, to be honest. It’s been priceless.”
Teaming with experienced hands Ben Keating and Mikkel Jensen has been an ideal spot for Huffaker to hone his craft, as his Sebring results have shown. Michael Levitt/Motorsport Images
Huffaker, Jensen, and Keating lead the LMP2 standings after the first two rounds. Despite their early success, Huffaker says he’s more interested in the lessons that arrive with each outing. Young and talented drivers are nothing new in the WeatherTech Championship, but Huffaker is somewhat different from his contemporaries due to the lack of extensive training prior to reaching LMP2.
He doesn’t have two or three years of solid Road to Indy, Michelin Pilot Challenge, or IMSA Prototype Challenge experience to build upon. For Huffaker, IMSA’s second-fastest class is where the foundation is being created.
“It was a little bit of a jump into the deep end,” he added. “In 2019 I ran some LMP3 Prototype Challenge races, but not the whole season, and before that, I raced a F4 car. So, going from F4 to the P3 felt like a big jump, but I felt like I adapted fairly quickly. But then when I jumped to the P2 car, it felt like another huge step up. I thought it was going to be a lot closer to the P3, but it really took me a little bit of time, because I had almost no practice in the P2 car; maybe about 15 laps in it. Then I went to the Six Hours of Road Atlanta last year and that was my first time racing in LMP2.”
He’d score a debut win in LMP2 and continues to grow with each outing in the series. Thanks to his age and whatever amount of untapped potential that remains, Huffaker sees a world of opportunities ahead and can’t wait to find where his future is held.
“It’s hard to say exactly what the goal is because my goal has always just been to be at the top level of any type of racing, and being paid to do that,” he said. “So if someone from IndyCar was interested in me, I’d love to do that. If someone said to come try a DPi car, I would love to do that. If I could full write the script on my career, I’d be a factory driver. That’s always been dream.”