Back Where It All Began – JDC MotorSports Campaigning IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda Car at Sebring
Friday, March 2, 2018

When JDC MotorSports rolls into Sebring International Raceway in just a few weeks, they’ll do so with an armada that includes a pair of ORECA LMP2s in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship under the JDC-Miller MotorSports banner, and an additional entry.

It’s one that reflects where the now-popular WeatherTech Championship program made its entry into IMSA and sports car racing in general – the IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda.

“We started here in 2011 and built our program,” said JDC MotorSports CEO and managing partner, John Church. “We built the program around the L1 cars at the time and had a lot of success doing that. When the P3 class came along, we decided it was time to take that next step.”

JDC MotorSports entered and recently tested at Sebring the No. 55 Ligier JS P3 for Gerry Kraut, who along with Church, was instrumental in bringing the team to IMSA from the open-wheel ranks. It was there the team established itself with a successful run that included wins and championships with several names that are now familiar to IMSA fans.

The Minnesota-based team won the 2007 Star Mazda Championship driver and team titles with Dane Cameron, scoring a series-high three wins. The team followed that up in 2009 with a second Star Mazda Championship title with Adam Christodoulou, and the F2000 Championship Series title with Chris Miller.

JDC MotorSports continued its winning ways one year later, with Connor De Phillippi earning the Rookie of the Year award in the Star Mazda Championship, and scoring a non-points win in the USF2000 National Championship with Misha Goikhberg. The team secured its third Star Mazda Championship title in 2011 with Tristan Vautier, in addition to scoring a win in the USF2000 National Championship with Luke Ellery.

But even with all of that success, JDC MotorSports elected that same year to make the move to sports cars and the IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda.

“It started when John and I were running Star Mazda together and I wanted to change to sports cars,” said Kraut, who along with driving the Ligier JS P3 at Sebring is also a longtime team partner. “I got involved in IMSA Lites and John prepped the car for me and we built out a team based around those cars.

“John’s interest shifted from open-wheel racing to sports car racing with that change and then we moved to PC, then P2, and now P3. I have enormous respect for IMSA. I have admired them for being so customer centric.”

JDC MotorSports continued its winning ways in IMSA with IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda driver and team championships in 2014 and 2015 with Misha Goikhberg and Kenton Koch, and in 2016 won the overall IMSA Prototype Lites driver championship with Clark Toppe, as well as team and Masters Class championship with Joel Janco.

The team eventually moved to the WeatherTech Championship in 2014. There, the team’s No. 85 entry, now affectionately known as the “Banana Boat,” won the 2016 Rolex 24 At Daytona in the PC class. JDC-Miller MotorSports has since become one of the top teams in the Prototype class and expanded to a full-season two-car program in 2018.

While the main focus at Sebring will undoubtedly be a win in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts later this month, the team is looking forward to its season debut in the IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda.

With JDC MotorSports not competing in the series opener at Daytona International Speedway, that means the team must prepare for the new one hour, 45-minute endurance format that allows for a single or two-driver combination with a required minimum-time pit stop.

“It’s an exciting change and it raised my interest level in the series,” said Kraut. “It enables me as a bronze driver to work with a silver driver and learn from him.”

“We love this class and it’s an opportunity to bring a lot of young drivers in,” added Church. “The new endurance racing format is great. The future looks great for the class.”