Open-wheel standout RC Enerson is eying a move to sports car racing after making his IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship debut at the Roar Before the 24.
Enerson, who has been brought onboard to join Mike Guasch, Tom Kimber-Smith, and Jose Gutierrez in the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Ligier JSP217 Gibson for the season-opening round, impressed in three IndyCar starts in 2016 for Dale Coyne Racing including a career-best ninth at Watkins Glen.
Despite the promising start to his top-level open-wheel career, the 19-year-old Floridian has found it difficult to find a full-season seat in IndyCar. He said that prompted him to broaden his horizons and give sports cars a serious look.
“I grew up on the Mazda Road to Indy and the open-wheel side of things so my goal was to get there, and we got there and we did pretty well,” Enerson told Sportscar365.
“We were trying to put things together for this year and it just didn’t fall our way. We’re still seeing what we can do to get some one-offs and get some testing in.
“We’re still trying to pursue that a lot but we knew we had to find a home this year and possibly for the future.
“We got hooked up with [team owner] Bobby [Oergel] through my driver coach and decided it would be a pretty good fit to come do the Roar and the [Rolex] 24 as a fourth driver and see where it goes from there.”
While IndyCar racing has been the focus of Enerson’s career to date, he said he has long followed sports car racing from afar, specifically several friends from his karting days that have become regulars in the WeatherTech Championship.
“It’s always interested me, having the endurance races,” he said. “I mean, 24-hour races!
“Sharing cars, that’s something I’ve never had to do in a race. It’ll be some new things to me, constant traffic as well being in the top class I’ll be constantly passing cars.
“It’ll be a brand new experience but I did follow it a lot when I was coming up because I had a lot of buddies from karting that went all the way to IndyCar and I also had some ones like Tristan Nunez and Spencer Pigot, although Spencer is on the IndyCar side but he still comes here for this.
“So I’ve followed it both sides even though I’ve mostly been open-wheel. But now, you see your options open and you want to find a home somewhere in racing, and it’s the most logical decision.”
Enerson, whose father Neil owned Team E Racing which competed in Indy Lights for several years, is only signed through the Rolex 24 with PR1/Mathiasen, although he hopes to make future starts in the WeatherTech Championship with the them or another squad should the opportunity present itself.
Kimber-Smith is signed for the season, although fellow open-wheel rising star Guiterrez is only taking part in seven of the ten rounds, potentially opening the door for Enerson to jump in for additional races.
“We’re keeping our options open but it would be good to stick with the same core coming into sports cars the first time and not having to jump around, so I definitely want to stay with PR1, but we’ll see what happens,” he said.
“There’s a lot of IndyCar guys that are in GT now but it’s a lot of factory stuff that comes from them being in the Ganassi cars.
“It comes from connections. The prototype stuff, it’s like an IndyCar with a ton of bodywork so I feel like the driving style will fit, the whole mentality behind driving the car will be similar not going from full-aero downforce to a GT car will be a big difference, but we’ll see.”