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Get to Know IMSA Diverse Driver Development Candidates

Tuesday, Nov 09 578
By Godwin Kelly
IMSA Wire Service
 
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The International Motor Sports Association will soon announce the winner of the inaugural IMSA Diverse Driver Development Scholarship.
 
IMSA received 35 applications and narrowed the list to 10 finalists. To be eligible for the scholarship, drivers must have a strong desire to compete in IMSA, outstanding previous race results and/or proven on-track potential in junior racing categories and the ability to build a compelling business plan for securing the remaining funding needed to compete in a full season in 2022.
 
The scholarship winner will receive upwards of a quarter million dollars in value toward a full season of competition in either the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge or IMSA Prototype Challenge in 2022. The recipient will receive substantial support from IMSA and partners including Michelin, VP Racing Fuels, OMP, RECARO and LAT Photo USA.
 
This is the last of a two-part series taking a closer look at the IMSA Diverse Driver Development Scholarship candidates, who appear in no particular order.
Courtney Crone, 20
Corona, California
 
Crone’s father, Jack Crone, bought daughter Courtney a small dirt motorcycle when she was just 2. She started racing at 5 in quarter midgets and stayed with it until she was 10. She took an unusual detour at age 11 when she went motorcycle speedway racing. Speedway bikes look more like bicycles, have no brakes and race on short, dirt ovals.
 
Crone went back to four-wheel racing at 14 when she started driving a 360 sprint car on dirt ovals. The following year, she graduated to a full-size USAC midget racing on dirt and pavement. At 15, Crone was invited to the Formula Speed 2.0 Shootout and won a scholarship to compete in the Formula Car Challenge Series, her first step into road racing. Crone showed so much potential, she earned the same scholarship at age 17 and ran a second season, capturing the Formula Car Challenge Series championship. She also ran a season of the F1600 Championship Series. The pandemic wiped away most of 2020, but Crone made a few F4 starts in the World Speed Motorsports entry. She is competing in her first season in the IMSA Prototype Challenge in 2021 and opened the year by racing in the prestigious Chili Bowl Nationals. She is also currently a driving instructor at Allen Berg Racing Schools.
 
“The scholarship for me would be huge because it would allow me to step up into the higher ranks of racing, which means more people involved, and obviously it costs a lot more money,” Crone says. “Just having the support from IMSA to continue forward in one of the most competitive forms of racing would mean a ton to me. It would be IMSA supporting me, a diversity driver, and that would be huge. IMSA is a series I really believe in. More track time would be beneficial for me and that scholarship would certainly provide that.”
Jaden Conwright, 22
Newark, California
 
Conwright’s racing journey began at 7 years old when he started racing at a local quarter midget course. Two years later, he entered the Jim Russell Arrive & Drive Karting School and then split seat time between quarter midgets and go-karts. In 2011, he began competing in regional go-kart events. Conwright got his first experience in a race car at age 14 competing in a Formula 2000 series, where he set a number of track records and won the championship. At 15, he tried his hand at Pro Mazda and at 16 ventured to Europe to compete in Italian Formula 4.
 
The next year he tested for a few teams, including Carlin, in Britain, then at 18 ventured to Asia for the FIA F3 Championship racing in Malaysia and China, where he scored a win and five podiums. He went back Italy in 2019 to run in the Italian Porsche Carrera Cup – his first experience in a GT-style car. He scored nine podiums, including six straight to open the season, and was named rookie of the year. Conwright had a limited schedule in 2020 but made his WeatherTech Championship debut in this year’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, finishing an impressive fourth in the GT Daytona (GTD) class in the No. 42 NTe Sport Audi R8 LMS GT3 after qualifying third.
 
“I would hope the scholarship would help me promote myself and the great image IMSA shows through the values of its Driver Development Program,” Conwright says. “The story of myself has been this – going all over the place to do racing and find a path to IMSA. I don’t come from a family that can pay my way to the top. I think that embodies the idea of what the scholarship stands for. To me, that scholarship would be something very special. Everyone says my schedule is crazy, but I enjoy it. It’s been fun.”
Sabré Cook, 27
Grand Junction, Colorado
 
Cook started karting when she was 8, then began competitive go-kart racing two years later. She won three world championships and raced karts at the pro level for several years. She moved up to SCCA Spec Racer Ford and Formula Enterprise cars in 2017, the same year she graduated from college with a degree in mechanical engineering. The following year, Cook raced in U.S. F4 and F2000 races, winning twice. During that 2018 season, she won a place with the Infiniti Engineering Academy, moved to the United Kingdom and worked with Infiniti Global and Renault F1.
 
In 2019, Cook qualified for and raced in the FIA W Series. When the pandemic hit in 2020, her racing schedule diminished to a couple of Indy Pro 2000 Championship events. Things picked up for Cook this year, beginning with an Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires run at Daytona. Cook was the only American to qualifying for the W Series in 2021. She finished third in her Porsche Sprint Challenge North America debut in May at Circuit of The Americas, becoming the first woman in series history to finish on the podium.
 
“Winning the Diversity Scholarship would be critical for me to bring partners onboard in order to ensure I could run the full season and have a successful season,” says Cook. “It would help solidify me making my step into IMSA. Going into IMSA would be a great path forward for my career. I would love to get into (prototype) racing down the road.”
Kyle Loh, 22
San Jose, California
 
Loh just won the Formula Pro USA Western Championship after a third-place finish in the 2019 Formula Pro USA F4 West Coast Series. Not bad for a self-described “late starter” who began racing at 15 after getting a taste in high school, which offered go-kart racing as a physical education credit.
 
Loh said he would go to an indoor go-kart track and found he was faster than his counterparts who had taken the class the previous year. During his senior year, he made the move to outdoor karting, then moved up to shifter karts. His first experience in a race car was in 2018, when he joined the Formula Pro USA F4 series. Loh is currently a driving instructor at Allen Berg Racing Schools.
 
“This IMSA Diverse Driver Development Scholarship would have a big impact on my career. I have never received a scholarship like this before,” Loh says. “This would be my first time in professional racing to really put myself out there. Funding is a big obstacle and I am finally starting to learn the ins and outs of the industry business-wise. This scholarship is a really great opportunity for me to put myself out there and spread positive messages regarding diversity about my Taiwan heritage. I would also like to bring a new perspective of diversity to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. As a child, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, which is a form of autism, and ADHD. With the paddock passes IMSA will offer, I plan to donate a couple of passes to guests with special needs and give them a great experience. I want to give back because of the so many opportunities I’ve had.”
David Dalton, 23
Charlotte, North Carolina
 
Dalton moved from New Jersey in 2016 to attend the NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville, North Carolina. He graduated with a certification two years later after learning how to set up a stock car and the ins and outs of race cars. After receiving his certification, Dalton started go-kart racing in the KA100 Senior Series on road courses and won three events. He finished a close second at Daytona in a 50-kart field.
 
Dalton drove his first race car in a Lucas Oil Formula test at Sebring in 2018, saying the transition from karts to race cars “came naturally.” He returned to Sebring in late 2018 to compete in the Kart To Car Shootout, which had a field of 30 competitors, turning in the fast lap on Day 2. After three days of head-to-head competition, Dalton was chosen to participate in the series. In 2019 he ran the F4 United States Championship powered by Honda and the Lucas Oil Formula Car Race Series, where he earned a victory at National Corvette Museum Motorsports Park in Kentucky in 2019.
 
“When I learned about the IMSA Diverse Driver Development Scholarship, it was like a dream come true,” Dalton says. “I could not believe my eyes what was being offered and how it was being offered and that it was IMSA. Racing IMSA is a goal of mine. I want to aspire to be an all-around professional race driver and win championships. In the process, I want to lead by example for all the ethnic drivers, not only drivers but race engineers, technicians or data analysts and so on. I want to use my platform to help open those opportunities up for them. This scholarship is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity because I’m not getting younger. I keep working the grind behind the scenes, like building my marketing tools, to be ready for a chance like this. I’m lost for words that I’m a finalist for this scholarship.”
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Adam Sinclair

Adam has been a race fan since the first time he went through the tunnel under the Daytona International Speedway more than 30 years ago. He has had the privilege of traveling to races all across the state of Florida (as well as one race in Ohio), watching nearly everything with a motor compete for fame and glory, as well as participating in various racing schools to get the feel of what racecar drivers go through every week.  

Adam spent several years covering motorsports for Examiner.com., where he had the opportunity to see the racing world from behind the scenes as well as the grandstands. He invites everyone to follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus, and looks forward to sharing his enthusiasm for all things racing with the readers of SpeedwayDigest.com.

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