The next step in the racing career of 21-year-old Sean McAlister from Beverly Hills, Calif. will be the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama, and he’ll do it as the 2019 recipient of the prestigious IMSA Hurley Haywood GT3 Cup Scholarship.
McAlister won the 2018 Platinum Class champion in the Pirelli Trophy West series with 11 victories in the 14-race championship driving for longtime GT3 competitors Competition Motorsports.
This year, he will join JDX Racing, which won the GT3 Cup Challenge USA Platinum Cup title in 2018 with driver Trenton Estep, who had 14 podium finishes in 16 races.
McAlister was chosen by a selection committee that included sports car racing legend and the scholarship’s namesake, Hurley Haywood, Porsche Motorsport North America race director Owen Hayes, Yokohama Tire Motorsport Manager Drew Dayton, and IMSA Single Make and Challenge Series Manager Randy Hembrey.
“I’m really pleased the judging panel chose Sean as the 2019 recipient of the IMSA Hurley Haywood GT3 Cup Scholarship,” said JDX Racing Managing Partner Jeremy Dale.
“Everyone at JDX Racing is excited to get to work preparing for the upcoming season. Driver development is very close to my heart and I’m very proud of what our team has done over the years to help young drivers grow.
“Combine youthful energy with a Porsche Cup Car on Yokohama tires in the IMSA/ Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama Series and you have an amazing platform for young drivers like Sean.
“Sean has a steep learning curve in front of him, but I’m confident that our combined hard work and dedication will produce great results in 2019.”
The IMSA Hurley Haywood Scholarship is open to drivers between the ages of 16 and 25 with no previous full-time experience in GT3 Cup Challenge USA.
Successful candidates must have a strong desire to compete in the series, outstanding previous race results and proven on-track potential in junior racing categories, as well as the ability to build a compelling business plan to secure the remaining funding needed to compete in a full GT3 Cup Challenge USA season.
McAlister only has been racing for three years, all of which came in Pirelli Trophy West.
He raced a Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport in 2016 and 2017, finishing second in that class championship both years.
In 2018, he moved up to the Porsche 991.1 GT3 Cup machine and turned in a dominant season en route to the title.
He will make his GT3 Cup Challenge USA debut at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama, which kicks off the eight-round, 16-race season on April 6-7.
“Being the 2019 recipient of the IMSA Hurley Haywood GT3 Cup Scholarship Award is an amazing honor,” McAlister said.
“The scholarship provides a great opportunity for young drivers such as myself, the chance to be a part of a distinguished racing series and championship that can be a springboard to a professional driving career.”
The scholarship is named after legendary sports car driver Hurley Haywood, one of the most accomplished sports car endurance racers in history.
“I am proud to see IMSA continue with the Scholarship in my name,” said Haywood.
“I, like Porsche continue to believe and invest in young drivers more and more each year, and this is yet another way to give back while seeding the sport for the future.
“As we enter the third year, it is gratifying to see how Jake Eidson and Max Root have made the most of their opportunities.
“With a 911 GT3 Cup championship already under his belt, Sean McAlister has a head-start towards fulfilling the high expectations expected of our scholarship recipients.”
McAlister follows in the footsteps of previous IMSA Hurley Haywood GT3 Cup Scholarship recipients Max Root (2018) and Jake Eidson (2017).
The scholarship was expanded in 2017 from an initial program started by IMSA, Porsche and Yokohama in 2014. Previous IMSA Scholarship recipients were Victor Gomez IV (2016), Elliott Skeer (2015) and Michael Lewis (2014).