Wyatt Schwab is receiving a crash course in IMSA sports car racing.
The 17-year-old IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda rookie had never even been to an IMSA-sanctioned event until Petit Le Mans last October.
Fast forward just six months and the Millersville, Penn. high school student enters this weekend’s race at Barber Motorsports Park already with a pole position at Daytona and fastest race lap in the MPC class at Sebring under his belt.
Impressive to say the least, but while he has shown speed at the top of the MPC class through two events, contact with debris from an LMP3 car at Daytona and a mechanical failure at Sebring leaves him sixth in the standings heading into Barber.
The disappointing finishes haven’t deterred the young Performance Tech Motorsports driver from keeping his transition in perspective and focusing on his development as a driver.
“I came from one year of Skip Barber and several years of karting before that, but driving at this level, I’ve never experienced this type of car and this type of speed before,” Schwab said.
“The transition was hard at first, but now it’s just perfecting each and every skill as a driver. The most interesting part is just trying to make myself better and understanding how these cars work and trying to figure out the track at the same time.”
It can be a challenge, Schwab admits, learning not only a new car and a new series, but also visiting a batch of tracks for the first time.
To better acclimate himself he spends time on the simulator, and watching videos and looking at data of former IPC driver – and now IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race winner – Kyle Masson.
It’s that type of dedication that has Performance Tech Motorsports team owner Brent O’Neill thrilled to have him in the organization.
“We’re excited to have Wyatt because he’s a good kid and fits in really easily with the rest of the team,” O’Neill said. “He literally just turned 17, but he works out, is in the perfect shape and takes everything so seriously. He’s already a professional at this.
“He did a good job at the test we did before the season. We tested for two days, and the kid never put a wheel wrong. He got up to speed really quickly and continued to get faster over the weekend.
“Our job is just to keep that snowballing through the season. He’s had some rough luck, but the talent is there.”
The speed has been there, and with a little luck, Schwab hopes to step on the podium for the first time in an IMSA race this weekend. But podium or not, he knows it’ll be another opportunity to grow as a driver.
“The track seems to be a ton of fun, on the sim it’s a blast,” he said. “I’m always excited to learn new tracks and how the car reacts to different turns and elevation changes.
“I’m still not fully comfortable yet. I know how the car is going to react somewhat, but it goes back to having a comfort zone with the car and track. And not only the car and track, but myself.
“I’m always learning no matter what I’m in.”
26 Entries for Barber
A total of 26 prototypes – 17 in LMP3 and nine in MPC – are on the entry list for Barber Motorsports Park.
Among them are debut entries from Five Miles Out Racing which will campaign two Norma M30s for the remainder of the season with a lineup that includes IndyCar veteran Jay Howard and veteran sports car driver Memo Gidley, in addition to Charles Chi and Nicholas Colyvas.
Polestar Motor Racing Inc. also makes its debut with a Ligier JS P3 for Keith Grant and David Grant.
The race will be streamed live on IMSA.tv on Saturday at 5:25 p.m. ET with an FS2 telecast on May 10 at 9:30 p.m.