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Super Trofeo Stories: Courtney Crone

28 mars 2024

Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America rookie Courtney Crone has not only grown up around motorsport; she was born into it. Having first sat on a mini moto at the age of two and a quarter midget by four, it’s little wonder she is climbing the racing ladder at a rate of knots.

Crone is also the most recent winner of the IMSA Diverse Driver Development Scholarship, which rewards up-and-coming drivers from diverse backgrounds with funded opportunities in IMSA sanctioned championships.

The ‘diverse’ title is particularly appropriate when describing the 23-year-old from Corona, California. Having cut her teeth in USAC Midget racing on dirt tracks, she transitioned for SCCA Formula Cars and road racing in her mid-teens.

For Crone, racing is not just a hobby, it’s been her life.

“I first got involved in racing through my father,” says Crone. “He raced back in the 60 and eventually became a mechanic and started his own race team, which led him to what he does now which is prepping vintage and historic cars for a living.

“And, basically when I was born, he wanted me to be a part of his life, which was racing and got me on a motorcycle at two years-old and it kind of took off from there. I graduated to quarter midgets when I was four years-old and it just kind of kept going, and in my mind, I just wanted to take the next step.

“I always loved the racing environment, that competitive nature that surrounds you in racing and I just never looked back.

“Being born into the sport, it can certainly be a natural hobby, whether you are a fan or a competitor or even a mechanic, there are so many avenues in motorsport that you can go through.

“It can be PR or engineering, but I picked the actual driving portion because that’s the part that I enjoy the most, so the driving part is what really appealed to me.

“I did various forms of racing when I was younger. I did motorcycles, dirt racing, formula cars and now GTs, so basically every weekend was a race weekend growing up.”

North America has a long tradition of dirt racing on ovals. After all, both NASCAR and IndyCar regularly held rounds on gravel-based tracks before exclusively shifting to asphalt circuits.

Indeed, off-road experience for circuit racers has often come in handy when adapting to different environments and driving styles, something Crone believes has aided her transition to the sealed surface form of racing.

“I really didn’t have a choice of where I raced, I just kind of went wherever I could find the sponsors and the opportunities and that is what led around the place and to where I am now with the Lamborghini Super Trofeo series here in North America,” explains Crone.

“When I was making that transition from dirt racing to road racing, especially being 15, 16 years-old, but when I got into the formula cars, I realised that ‘this is what I really want to do’. Then, I did one year of both road racing and dirt but after that, I knew that all I wanted to do was road racing, so I put the dirt track behind me and focus on the road racing completely.

“The range of experiences I have had in my career so far has definitely helped with my car control and setup feeling. I might be a bit more sensitive to change, in a good way, so that is a positive.

“And adapting to the different tracks, that also plays a part, because on a dirt track, the track changes every lap. So, when you are facing changing conditions, when the track is getting hotter, that is something that is transferable from the dirt racing.

“As for the actual driving style, it’s so different that you can’t really compare the two, so it was like learning a whole new language and it took a while for me to get to grips with it all.

“But the main learning points from the dirt racing scene is that the overall competitive nature of the racing is so strong, and I have tried to bring that over to the road racing world.”

Along the journey in the road racing world is the IMSA Diverse Driver Development Scholarship, which Crone won at the end of the 2022 season. The scholarship supported Crone’s entry into the IMSA VP SportsCar Challenge in the LMP3 class as well as her first forays into one-make racing in Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America for 2024.

It’s one of a number of scholarships Crone has picked up, having won the coveted Gorsline Company Scholarship as well as the Formula Speed Scholarship organised by her current team, World Speed.

The importance of the IMSA backing is not lost on Crone, who followed in the footsteps of previous winners and Super Trofeo driver Jaden Conwright. Crone benefitted from a pre-paid first season in an IMSA championship, with the second second 50% subsidised. It has a value of up to $250,000, but perhaps the biggest boost has been getting onto the IMSA career ladder.

“The IMSA scholarship is very important to me just because it shows that North America’s biggest endurance racing series is interested in helping diverse drivers in such a positive way,” Crone adds.

“And to carry on that scholarship for two years is so crucial because it’s not just a ‘one and done’ thing, they extend it into a second year and the connections that IMSA has been able to put me in contact with, it’s different to other scholarships. They’ve done it in a very tasteful way because it has helped me and previous winners – and future winners – to make those connections with the people in these series.

“The fact that IMSA is interested in helping the drivers themselves is a big boost to racing in North America.”

The impact of the scholarship has also been far-reaching, with Crone experiencing a taste of European racing by competing in the ADAC LMP3 prototype series, opening her eyes to a new environment while increasing her apprenticeship in circuit racing.

“That was my first time venturing over to Europe and it was a great environment, and that opportunity was unbelievable.

“I never thought I’d be able to race in Europe and it certainly opened my eyes to the racing world, and it helped me grow not only as a person but as a driver as well. I travelled over there each time, a week ahead so that I could deal with the jetlag, and it was a fantastic year and we progressed by the end of the season.”

Crone’s first outing at the wheel of the #22 World Speed Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo EVO2 at Sebring produced a mix of emotions. A steady run in the first race was followed by a disappointing opening-lap retirement in the second.

Nevertheless, the introduction to the one-make series has given Crone added motivation to further settle into her new surroundings as the season progresses.

“The first race was pretty uneventful to be honest,” describes Crone, who shares the #22 with double Sebring 12 Hours winner in the LMP2 class, Scott Huffaker.

“I came out of the pits; nobody was really around me on track and it was pretty much an open track for the most part. We are a one-car team, so we are trying to find our feet really for the whole season but especially for the first weekend at Sebring. I think we did the best we could and with what we had.

“And in that scenario, you just push and make it a bit of a practice session, which was really nice. Obviously, we want to be deeper into those battles further up the field during the session and that’s the part I enjoy the most, the chase and competition.

“Being in the Pro-Am class as the Am, the biggest goal is to close the gap as much as possible to my team-mate, speed up the learning process and use all the tools I have to progress up the order. You may have setbacks in the middle of a weekend, but you just need to push through that and look at the bigger picture and see how we are at the end of the year.”

The Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America season resumes on the weekend of May 10-12 for Crone’s home race at WeatherTech Laguna Seca Raceway.

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