Scott Hargrove has always set his sights on competing at Long Beach, but believed he would be driving an IndyCar after a successful Mazda Road to Indy career in USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights.
The direction of Hargrove’s racing career changed four years ago when he first climbed behind the wheel of a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, en route to back-to-back Ultra 94 GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama titles.
This year, the 23-year-old Canadian has graduated into Pirelli World Challenge GT competition, driving a Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, who heads to the famed street circuit leading the Sprint championship following a sweep of the season-opening weekend in St. Pete last month.
“It’s interesting that I will make my debut at Long Beach [this] week in a Porsche,” Hargrove said.
“I always thought I would take my first Long Beach laps in an IndyCar. But it didn’t work out that way, and I am very excited to be coming to that famous race in the Pirelli World Challenge.”
Hargrove looked to be on the fast track to IndyCar as a teenager with strong performances in the junior open-wheel ranks, but, as happens to many young drivers, funding issues got in his way.
Instead, the second-generation driver followed in his father, Jim’s, footsteps, in moving to sports car racing.
“I know how the game works in motorsports and Canadians have always had assistance to get to the IndyCar level,” Hargrove said. “I just couldn’t find enough and the Pfaff Motorsports/Castrol Porsche 911 GT3 R team has given me the opportunity to compete against many of the world’s best sports car drivers. It’s very exciting.”
As was Hargrove’s showing in his PWC debut in St. Pete, having scored 51 out of 52 possible points in his maiden weekend, with wins in both 50-minute races.
“It was a great weekend, a little unexpected after Saturday’s qualifying [accident] but it was a great comeback for the team, Pfaff Motorsports,” Hargrove said.
“In the second race, there was a much better view into turn one at the start. I had to be a little bit smarter at the start. I didn’t overshoot the corner too much. Then our initial pace was amazing. It was really nice to have a [gap] and take the second win of the weekend.”
Hargrove made another career-first when he drove with Porsche veteran Wolf Henzler in the opening SprintX round at Circuit of The Americas last month.
It marked his first time sharing a car with a co-driver, having learned that a quick driver change is among the keys to success in a two-driver format.
“The whole driver change was completely new to me,” he said. “I was always in an open-wheel car or a Porsche GT3 Cup car for sprint racing.
“I’m very glad that a veteran like Wolf was able to guide me through that new situation.
“And I was trying to learn the COTA track at the same time. But we ran a good, smart race and now I’m leading the overall GT points entering Long Beach.”
Hargrove and Henzler placed fourth and third in the COTA rounds, respectively, with Hargrove now holding a seven-point margin over Ferrari’s Toni Vilander, and fellow Canadian Daniel Morad third, just nine back of Hargrove.
While Hargrove makes his Long Beach debut, he isn’t without Long Beach background and history.
“I have driven around Long Beach a ton of times on iRacing and the simulator,” he said. “It’s the only street race in iRacing and I love driving the track.
“I may be new to the PWC series and to the Long Beach track, but to win there would be the ultimate thrill of a racing driver.
“Plus, I want those valuable points as we are racing for the GT overall series title this year.”