Why Scott Pruett Is One Sad Racecar Driver
He's forced to sit out the next few races as he awaits his new car.
Scott Pruett, winner of a record 60 IMSA sports car races, a record 11 championships, and a record five Rolex 24 at Daytonas, is signing autographs at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, which is normal.
Not normal: That's pretty much all he is doing. For the first time in years, there's a sports car race going on, and Scott Pruett isn't in it.
That's because his car, the new Lexus RC F GT3, isn't ready for Long Beach. And won't be ready for Laguna Seca. Won't be ready for Detroit. May not be ready for Watkins Glen. Now, Pruett says, the July race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park might be the most likely debut for the star-crossed car, a version of which raced in Europe and was not remotely competitive.
The new car is being developed by former Trans Am champion Paul Gentilozzi, who is not the problem, Pruett says. "We're behind because we're waiting on parts." It's coming, he says, just not as fast as he wishes it was.
Being on the sidelines is something new for Pruett. He had a solid career in Trans Am, and then IndyCar, before moving to sports cars, where he took the class win at Le Mans, driving for the Corvette team. In 2004, he signed with the Chip Ganassi team, and began a steller run of Prototype wins and championships.
But at the end of 2015, Ganassi dropped its Prototype program, taking over the new Ford GT initiative, as Ford hopes to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans on the 50th anniversary of the GT sweeping the podium in 1966. For whatever reason, the 56-year-old Pruett was not a part of the new team. Neither he nor Ford have specifically addressed why, aside from Ford racing boss Dave Pericak saying that, "Sometimes you have to make difficult choices." Another source says that Pruett was offered only one year of racing, and the GT program is only funded for two years, so he went with Lexus, a company Pruett has a long relationship with. Pruett raced with Action Express at Daytona and Sebring, but now, at the third race of the year, he's sitting at a table in the Lexus booth and shaking hands.
As you would expect, California-based Pruett says it's tough to walk around Long Beach, a race he has a decades-long history with."But the good news is that the race is sponsored by Toyota, and will be next year, and our Lexus team will be on the track then."