Spencer Pigot returns to the Rolex 24 at Daytona for a third time with his eyes fixed on winning a race he has coveted for most of his life.
The Mazda Road to Indy graduate is set to join the team’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship full-season drivers Tristan Nunez and Jonathan Bomarito in the No. 55 Mazda RT24-P in the first race for the new car and IMSA’s new DPi platform.
The California-born, Florida-raised Pigot said his first memories of the twice-around-the-clock endurance race date back to his karting days early in his career, which makes his desire to compete for a champion’s Rolex that much more powerful.
“It was probably when I was a SunTrust Junior Driver when Wayne Taylor was helping me out,” Pigot told Sportscar365 of his first memories of the Rolex 24.
“Back when I was 13 or so I came as a guest of his and spent the whole night watching, following the car. That was the first time I ever came here to watch.
“Before that, I raced at the go kart track [just outside DIS] for the [World Karting Association] race.
“Nine or ten years old was my first race there and I would look out here, and there were super karts going around out there on the big track. I thought that it looked like a lot of fun.”
Pigot got his first chance to tackle the high banks and infield road course in 2013 as part of Mazda’s lineup in a diesel-powered Mazda6 in Grand-Am’s short-lived GX class.
That race lasted just 33 laps for the team before an early exit, and Pigot would have to wait three long years to rejoin Mazda at Daytona a season ago.
2016 saw Pigot added to Mazda’s lineup for Sebring, Watkins Glen, and Petit Le Mans in addition to his Rolex 24 return, with the young charger putting in a starring drive in the final event of the year.
He also made ten IndyCar starts for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Ed Carpenter Racing, and while his road and street course program with ECR is his focus in 2017, he said the allure of Daytona and an invite from Mazda were impossible to ignore.
“This is a race I’ve been coming to ever since I moved to Florida,” said Pigot. “My family, we all would come down. I stayed up all night a few times watching as a spectator as I was younger, and I always wanted to be a part of it.
“Likewise at Sebring. [They are] two tracks that are very close to where I grew up in Orlando and I have a lot of friends and family that come out to support me.
“Plus, I’ve been driving a car with a Mazda engine in it since I was 16 years old in Skip Barber. As I’ve graduated out of the Mazda Road to Indy into IndyCar, I can stick with Mazda over here in IMSA.
“I have a blast driving these cars and racing in this championship. It’s a lot of fun. There’s always something happening.
“Being in a ‘P’ car, there’s all these other classes and there’s always something going on. It’s really exciting and it’s just a great program to be a part of.”
Pigot said the goal for this weekend is a simple one.
“I guess the goal is what it always is: we all want to win and that’s what Mazda is here to do,” he said. “They’ve produced a car that I think is capable of that.
“They’ve put so much hard work into it: the engine, the chassis, the aero, everything has just evolved from where it has been in the past.
“We’ve shown, last year we had a lot of pace, just didn’t get the results that we deserved and hopefully that’s different this year and we can be there in the final few hours looking for the win.”