While considered one of the rising stars in the GT ranks, Madison Snow has been furthering his sports car racing education as of late, gaining extra seat time behind the wheel of a prototype.
The 18-year-old second-generation racer has taken part in the last three IMSA Prototype Lites weekends with Extreme Speed Motorsports, alongside his first full season in top-level IMSA competition in the GT Daytona class.
“We’ve known Ed Brown on a personal level and talked to him,” Snow told Sportscar365. “He got the car so he could run it in practice but no longer has the time to do it.
“So it came up that I could drive the car and get used to it. So that’s what we did. It’s been a good opportunity.”
Snow, who became the youngest driver to win a Porsche Cup race, has been on the fast track to success, winning the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge Gold Cup Championship in 2011, followed by the overall Platinum class title in 2013.
Following GTC class victory in last year’s ALMS series-ending Petit Le Mans with Flying Lizard Motorsports, the Utah teenager made the step up to the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship in 2014 in the No. 58 Porsche 911 GT America that’s now prepared and run by Dempsey Racing.
“Everybody I’ve talked to that’s been a professional driver, they’ve had some background in a downforce car, whether it’s [IMSA Prototype] Lites or an open-wheel car,” he said. “That was my goal here, to just try something.
“The Lites car helps me get up to speed quicker. So when I hop into the GT Daytona car, I’m right up to speed by the second lap. It’s good practice.”
While having driven Porsches nearly his entire career, Snow has quickly come to grips of the Elan DP02, thanks to the help of the Scott Sharp-owned team and renowned driving coach Ross Bentley.
“ESM has been great at helping me learn how to drive the thing,” Snow said. “It’s so much faster in the corners. You still feel like you’re going so fast because your head is bouncing up and down.
“The only thing that I’m not used to is that when I get behind other cars I have rubber whack me in the face. So that’s a little scary!”
Snow made his Lites debut at Watkins Glen in June, rebounding from a first-lap, first-corner accident in the opening round to finish seventh in Race 2, while also collecting top-tens at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and a season-best fifth in the most recent round at Road America.
The extra track time at Road America paid dividends for Snow, as he and co-driver Jan Heylen returned to the TUDOR Championship podium in last weekend’s Continental Tire Road Race Showcase. It marked the duo’s best result since their third place finish in the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona.
As for his future, Snow and ESM are taking the Lites program on a race-by-race basis, although he hasn’t completely ruled out a move to the prototype ranks in the future, should the right opportunity present itself.
“I think GT is where I’d see myself as I just have a lot more experience in those cars,” Snow said. “But if an opportunity arises in open-wheel or prototype, I’d take it as well. Wherever it goes.”
Could that opportunity be with ESM, perhaps starting with a test drive of one of the team’s HPD ARX-03b LMP2 cars?
“I haven’t talked to them about that yet,” Snow said. “Those cars are super fast and fancy. Maybe one day, once I get the Lites car down, I can try one of those out.”