Gunnar Jeannette is an American endurance racing driver who competes in various championships, including the FIA WEC.
Late but successful start of a career
He was born on 5th of May 1982 in West Palm Beach, Florida, and at the age of 16 had the relatively late start of a racing career. His first experience was in historic cars racing but after one year, Gunnar progressed to the professional level.
The season of 2000 was Jeannette’s first full-time season in professional motorsport. He raced in Grand-Am Sports Car Series and both GT and Prototype classes of the American Le Mans Series. However, the highlight was the 6th place in GT class of Le Mans 24 Hours. At the age of 18, Gunnar became the youngest-ever who managed to finish the most prestigious race.
Debut in LMP class
After solid 2001 season during which he scored one victory and other two podium finishes in Grand-Am Rolex Seris GT category and also finished 2nd at Le Mans 24 Hours GT category driving the Freisinger Motrsport’s Porsche 911 alongside Romain Dumas and Philippe Haezebrouck, Gunnar in 2002 debuted in LMP class of the American Le Mans Series, driving a private Panoz.
At the age of just turned 20, Gunnar Jeannette drove in the top category
Another good result the American scored in 2003 when he finished 3rd in LMP900 and 5th overall at Le Mans 24h, driving for Team Panoz alongside Max Papis and Olivier Beretta. Over the years Jeannette raced with a relative success in both GT and LMP classes of various championships but had to wait until 2005 to break winless stream. In 2005 Grand-Am Cup GS class, Gunnar raced with Multimatic Motorsports’ Ford Mustang and won 2 out of 11 races before taking the 7th place in the standings.
Papis, Jeanette and Beretta at Le Mans
Jeannette over the years also raced in the ALMS, FIA GT3 European Championship, European GT4 Cup but mostly as a part-timer for various teams. The results were pretty modest but Gunnar still had plenty to offer.
Two wonderful years crowned with the ALMS title
In 2010 Jeannette returned to ALMS as a full-time driver of Green Earth Team Gunnar. Driving alongside Elton Julian, he scored four wins (Long Beach, Lime Rock, Road America, Mosport) and finished the season as a runner-up to Scott Tucker.
The 2011 ALMS title was biggest success so far
The following year was even better for the guy from Florida. He signed with CORE Autosport to race in the LMPC category of ALMS and was teamed with Ricardo Gonzalez. They won the races at Long Beach and Mosport and had other four podiums before winning the title what still stands as the biggest achievement in Gunnar’s career so far.
Period of stagnation
Many were expected that Jeannette will go further but the following years weren’t as good. He again raced mostly part-time in various series and classes, including the FIA World Endurance Series. In 2013, Gunnar drove full-time for RAM Racing in GTE class of European Le Mans Series. He shared the drive of Ferrari F458 Italia with Frankie Montecalvo and they did well. The Americans were 3rd in three opening races of the season before finishing 5th in the Drivers’ Championship.
#52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA FLM09: Mike Guasch, Frankie Montecalvo, Gunnar Jeannette
The results were better in 2014 when he raced full-time in the United SportsCar Championship. Driving for PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports in Prototype Challenge class, again with Montecalvo, Gunnar finished 4th in the standings even after he failed to win any of 10 races that year.
Return to racing
After missing out the season of 2015, Jeannette returned to racing in 2016. It was in the IMSA SportsCar Championship GTD class, but again it was part-time as he appeared in only four endurance rounds of the series. The best result was 5th place at Sebring and Watkins Glen.
With Cooper MacNeil after victory at Long Beach
Finally, in 2017 he was able to break winless streak. Driving the Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3, Jeannette with Cooper MacNeil won the GTD class at Long Beach and showed that hasn’t yet said the last word in motorsport.
Gunnar is an avid fan of extreme sports. Since 2004 he had more than 1.500 skydives and more than 200 BASE jumps. He also participated in world record skydives and has been featured on various televisions and national magazines.