Courtney Crone wins IMSA Diversity scholarship
Courtney Crone emerged as the winner of the second edition of the IMSA Diverse Driver Development Scholarship, which grants the 21-year-old Californian funding to run a full-time campaign in the new IMSA VP Racing SportsCar Challenge.
Courtney Crone, 21, emerged as the recipient of the 2023 IMSA Diverse Driver Development Scholarship, which grants the Californian driver funding for a full-time drive in the new IMSA VP Racing SportsCar Challenge.
Crone is the second winner since the scholarship program was launched in 2022, aimed at facilitating the development and promoting diversity across the IMSA-sanctioned series.
Sabré Cook, Courtney Crone, Christina Lam and Sarah Montgomery were the four women shortlisted out of the 10 contenders in the inaugural edition, which was eventually awarded to Jaden Conwright.
Sabré Cook and Courtney Crone were again nominated for the following edition, as drivers contended for the $ 250,000 fund to run a full season on the IMSA platform.
“This really is an honor and it shows that a lot of my hard work has paid off,” Crone said. “For IMSA to recognize me and my hard work to move forward in IMSA is really a pleasure.
Crone has raced in a wide variety of motorsports since a very young age: from midget series to formula cars and then LMP3 prototypes - which she has driven in the past two years in the IMSA Prototype Challenge.
“This will be my third season driving an LMP3 car,” continued Crone, who will now join Forty7 Motorsports at the wheel of the #99 Duqueine D08 LMP3 in the IMSA VP Racing SportsCar Challenge, which succeeds the Prototype Challenge with the addition of a GT4 class. Unlike its predecessor championship, though, drivers will run solo in a 45-minute sprint race format.
“They have proven to be a very good race car and a decent endurance car", Crone added, in regards to LMP3 machinery. "I’m really excited to feel it out in the sprint-race format. I really can’t wait to do a whole race on my own.”
Crone scored three top-10 out of five rounds in 2022, with a personal best of fifth overall at Daytona, followed by a sixth place finish at Mosport. She ended sixth in the drivers' championship standings, securing 1110 points.
“With IMSA implementing this new series, it is the perfect step for me in IMSA to help prove myself and my individual driving with my results in a sprint-race format,” she said.
“It will be interesting mixing the LMP3 and GT4 cars in the same races. I’m really looking forward to getting some multiclass racing this season. This is a great format for me to showcase what I am capable of doing.”
The successful candidate had to prove a real interest in competing in IMSA, as well as outstanding race results in junior racing categories and the ability to secure the remaining part of funding with a convincing business plan. Support comes from IMSA partners Michelin, VP Racing Fuels, OMP, RECARO and LAT Photo USA.
“The IMSA Diverse Driver Development Scholarship takes another step forward with naming Courtney Crone as the 2023-24 recipient,” IMSA President John Doonan said. “Courtney has shown true potential both on and off the track. She typifies what this award is about: creating opportunities for developing a more diverse pool of deserving talent in the IMSA community. We look forward to seeing what Courtney is able to accomplish in 2023.”
Courtney Crone's #99 LMP3 machine will sport the bright red Gainsco livery.
The series is set to get underway on January 20/22 at Daytona International Speedway, for the first of its six double-headers. The following rounds will be held at Sebring, Mosport, Lime Rock, VIRginia International Raceway and Road Atlanta.
2023 VP Racing SportsCar Challenge Calendar:
R1 - Daytona International Speedway / January 20–22
R2 - Sebring International Raceway / March 11–12
R3 - Canadian Tire Motorsport Park / July 7–9
R4 - Lime Rock Park / July 21–22
R5 - VIRginia International Raceway / August 25–27
R6 - Road Atlanta / October 11–14