Hello, my name is Riley Dickinson; I am 17 years old from New Braunfels, Tex. and a senior at Canyon High School. I drive the No. 53 Moorespeed Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Car in the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama.
In my rookie season, we finished 3rd overall and recently became the recipient of the 2020 IMSA Hurley Haywood Scholarship.
The guys at Sportscar365 gave me the opportunity to do a series of columns throughout the 2020 season and I jumped at the chance.
This will not be a dry race report, but more geared towards what goes on behind the scenes, preparation, and likely some things that don’t involve racing at all. What a privilege it is going to be to share my season’s story with all of you, I am truly honored.
For this first installment, I’ve decided to make it a brief overview of my racing background up until this point. Since I’m going to be writing about my experiences throughout this year, I figured that I would give you, the reader, some information on who I am and what my story is before we get into the swing of things this year.
So how did all of this begin? When I was 7 years old, we were a typical soccer/baseball family doing practice on weeknights and games on the weekend. I was an aspiring first baseman, but baseball just wasn’t all that intriguing for me.
One Saturday after losing a game, we left the baseball field complex and I noticed the local kart club racetrack across the street. I had seen it before, but this time I decided to say something about it out loud. “Mom, Dad – I’m done with baseball, I want to go do that”.
After that day, I never put the baseball glove on again, and I’ve been involved with racing ever since.
The following weekend, we were ALL IN, officially a karting family. We joined the local club (Hill Country Kart Club), we purchased two go-karts from the local kart shop (one for me and one for my younger brother), a small trailer, and minimal equipment to get us on the track.
My dad asked about tires and how often we need to buy new ones. “Tires should last you a few months, depending on how many laps he does.”
We were back at the kart shop that Monday morning buying more tires because I had already run them down to the cords.
Tommy, who owns the kart shop, couldn’t believe we were already back. We still laugh about it to this day. Tommy, thank you for everything that you have done for me over the years. You have been a great friend, mentor, and have had so much fun racing with you.
Next Up: Travel
After way too many sets of tires, it was time to take this program on the road. This was a BIG DEAL. We did a few regional races in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. We all officially had the bug.
I was winning a few races, and my brother was simply deadly in a kid kart. Local races, regional races, then on to national level races. Those were all great years, but 2017 was very special.
I competed in three championships series that year (two regional, one national) and we won all three.
The first race of the SKUSA ProTour (national championship series) was in New Orleans, we won. It was my first national win. I will never forget that race simply because of what went into making it happen not just from my side, but also everyone who had helped me through the years to get to that point.
We carried that momentum to ultimately go on to win the national championship at the end of the year in the S2 shifter kart class.
Looking back, we were at a race track 40 weekends that year and I was in the best “karting” shape of my life. If we were not racing out of town, then we were at HCKC to hang out with my local racing buddies. I always enjoyed going back and still do, that entire year will always have a special place in my heart.
Time to Transition
It was July 2018, and my mother was encouraging me to figure out the 2019 season. Karting is so much fun and it was hard to move on – but knew it was time to take the plunge into cars.
I started out with a Miata to learn the basics of driving something that has suspension and weighs more than 300 pounds. We connected with David Moore and Moorespeed, and we collectively decided to do a test.
That took place in August, and it was the first time I had ever driven a car with more than 100 horsepower. No question it was a handful, but it was so much fun. After the first session, I couldn’t stop smiling. I was immediately hooked.
The Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car is a thoroughbred race car. No driver assists (traction control, antilock brakes) to give the driver a helping hand, and quite honestly that’s what makes the car so much fun to drive. You constantly have to stay on top of it and it keeps you on your toes.
So back to the test, my shifter kart experience helped me quite a bit because the driving style transferred over relatively well to the GT3 Cup car. This allowed me to feel right at home inside the car immediately.
The test went better than I could have expected. I had that grin on my face from the first session for at least a week. Shortly after that test, I signed with Moorespeed to do the 2019 season in the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama.
Time to Get the Season Started!
The 2019 season was my rookie year in the GT3 Cup car. The support that I received from Porsche Motorsport North America, IMSA, Yokohama, and so many others was simply amazing.
We had some typical ups and downs throughout the year. I made a few mistakes that cost us, but the guys at Moorespeed just dug in to keep me on track.
They never complained, and collectively we put our heads down and assembled a strong end of the year.
This was highlighted with our first win in the final event at Road Atlanta which, secured 3rd place in the Platinum championship. Thank you so much guys for everything, can’t wait to go do battle with you again this year!
At the end of the season, I was invited to attend the Porsche Young Drivers Academy at Barber Motorsports Park.
I will never forget the day I received the invitation call from Patrick Long. That was such a cool moment for me and I was genuinely shocked.
The level of commitment from everyone involved and the level of professionalism of the event simply blew me away. Truly the prime example of all these companies investing in young North American drivers.
As part of the PYDA event, I was able to spend some time with Porsche Motorsports racing legend Hurley Haywood. Receiving the Scholarship named on his behalf is very special and I’m extremely proud to have the opportunity to represent him throughout the 2020 season.
Our first race of the season kicks off in St. Petersburg with IndyCar, March 13-15. Can’t wait to see you at the track!