Scott Sharp is an American racing driver whose career spans over 30 years. His biggest achievements were the 1996 Indy Racing League championship title and a victory at the 2016 Daytona 24 Hours with his own team.
Besides those two career milestones, Sharp participated in more than 370 races all over the world, mostly in Trans-Am, IndyCar Series and American Le Mans Series and IMSA SportsCar Championship.
Father was a racing champion
Born on February 14th, 1968, Scott Sharp is the son of the six-time SCCA national champion Bob Sharp. As a second-generation family racer, Scott began racing karts at the early age of eight. In his karting career, he has won 50 out of 75 races.
Scott's car racing career began in 1984. He won the first SCCA race he entered at New Hampshire. Two years later, he became the GT-2 SCCA National Champion. He repeated the success in GT-1 class in 1987 and 1988. The winning cars were Datsun 280Z and Nissan 300 ZX. In the SCCA championship he competed as a driver of Newman-Sharp Team, owned by the famous actor Paul Newman and Scott's father.
The youngest champion in the history of Trans-Am championship
From 1988 to 1993, Scott Sharp competed in Trans-Am, scoring two championship titles in 1991 and 1993, driving Chevrolet Camaro. In 1991, he became the youngest Trans-Am champion. In 1992, Scott also tried NASCAR, competed with Pontiac at Winston Cup race at Watkins Glen. It remained his only NASCAR event up to date.
During the season of 1993, while he was winning the Trans-Am championship, Scott debuted in CART IndyCar World Series with Bettenhausen Motorsport. He participated only once, but in the following season he became a full time CART driver of PacWest Racing's Lola T94/00. That year, he finished 21st in the championship standings and second in the rookie classification, behind Jacques Villeneuve. At his first Indianapolis 500, he finished at the 16th place.
First victory in a 24 hours race
In the 1995 CART season, he participated in only one race, driving for AJ Foyt's team at Indianapolis 500. He didn't reach the finish: he retired after an accident in Lap 74.
1995 was the year to forget, but in the 1996 season, he scored double the success. Together with Wayne Taylor and Jim Pace, he won at 24 Hours of Daytona, in Riley & Scott Oldsmobile-powered prototype. The same car trio competed at the 1996 24 Hours of Le Mans, but retired after 157 laps.
1996 IRL champion in the shortest season ever
1996 was a turbulent year of transition from CART IndyCar World Series to Indy Racing League. The 1996 IRL season consisted of only three races. Scott Sharp finished 11th at Walt Disney World Speedway, scored 2nd place at Phoenix International Raceway and finished 10th at Indianapolis 500.
Without any wins he became IRL champion, sharing the title with with Buzz Calkins. Sharp was driving a Ford Cosworth-powered Lola of AJ Foyt Enterprises, while Calkins was the driver of Bradley Motorsports. For Calkins, it was the only championship title in his career.
Nine victories booked in Scott's IndyCar career
In the following season (1996-1997), still driving for AJ Foyt Enterprises, Scott Sharp scored his first Indy victory at New Hampshire International Speedway. Despite that win, he finished only 22nd in the championship. A serious head injury prevented him from racing in the second part of the season.
In the following years, he scored eight more IndyCar victories, driving for Kelley Racing and Delphi Fernandez Racing. His best season result was 3rd place in the standings of 2001 season. Sharp's last full IndyCar season was 2007 with Rahal Letterman Racing, while his last Indy event was 2009 Indianapolis 500 with Panther Racing. His best Indy 500 result of 15 participations was 6th place in 2007.
2009 ALMS champion together with David Brabham
American Le Mans Series was a big part of Scott Sharp's career. He made two starts in 1999 ALMS inaugural season, driving a Corvette, but he became a full season ALMS driver only after he had left IndyCar. In the 2008 ALMS season, he drove Patron Highcroft Racing LMP2 prototype Acura ARX01-a and finished 3rd in the championship.
In 2009, he became the LMP1 and overall winner of the championship, together with David Brabham in Patron Highcroft's Acura ARX-02a prototype. They won three of ten races and scored five more podiums. The biggest rivals were Gil de Ferran and Simon Pagenaud in the De Ferran Motorsports Acura ARX-02a. The battle for the title was resolved in the last race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Extreme Speed Motorsports was founded in 2010
The new chapter of his career was opened in 2010, when Scott formed Extreme Speed Motorsports, sponsored by his old partner Tequila Patron. The team competed in GT2 class with Ferrari F430 GTE; Scott and Johannes Van Overbeek finished fifth in teams' standings and tenth in drivers' standings.
In the following two seasons, the team's car was Ferrari 458 Italia, with Johannes van Overbeek still as a partner. In 2011, they finished seventh in the drivers'classification and in 2012, after two class wins at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park and Petit Le Mans, they took second place at the end of the season.
Expansion from ALMS to World Endurance Championship
After expanding to two GT cars, the next step was a new prototype. In the 2013 season, Tequila Patron Extreme Speed Motorsports competed in P2 category with HPD ARX-03b and Scott finished second in the drivers' standings. In 2014, American Le Mans Series merged with Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series to United Sports Car Championship and Extreme Speed Motorsports continued to race. The team had two cars and six drivers competed together with Scott. In a high-profile competition, Scott finished 9th in the drivers' classification, while two crews were 7th and 10th.
US territory was too small for Scott and he expanded his operations all over the world, starting to race in the FIA World Endurance Championship. ESM debuted on the American round at Circuit of the Americas and scored third-place LMP2 class finish. On the Chinese round at Shanghai International Circuit, two ESM cars entered the race and finished second and fifth in LMP2 class.
Return to Le Mans and second Daytona 24 victory in 2016
In 2015, at the United Sports Car Championship, the team again had two prototypes, but competed only at Daytona 24 Hours and Sebring 12 Hours. The main goal was the World Endurance Championship and 24 Hours of Le Mans. Both crews entered all eight races of the championship and finished 7th and 8th in the classification at the end of the season.
In 2015, Scott returned to Le Mans, 19 years after his first attempt, and finished the race tenth in class, driving Honda-powered Ligier JS P2 prototype, together with Ryan Dalziel and David Heinemeier Hansson.
In January of 2016, he again won at Daytona 24 Hours, 20 years after his first victory. Together with Scott, the winning crew of #2 Tequila Patron ESM's car was young Brasilian Luis Felipe Derani, 'Mr. Tequila Patron' Ed Brown and Scott's long-standing racing partner Johannes van Overbeek.
Triumphing at 36 Hours of Florida
In 2016, Sharp and his team didn't win only Daytona 24 Hours but also the Sebring 12 Hours, triumphing at 'so called' 36 Hours of Florida. That year, Sharp participated in only four IMSA races, a part of the North American Endurance Cup (NAEC). He finished second in NAEC standings.
In 2017, Sharp returned to full-time driving duties in a new Nissan DPi prototype, sharing a car with Ryan Dalziel. They were race winners at Petit Le Mans, finishing fifth in the final standings of the IMSA SportsCar Championship. Next year, the same crew scored just one podium and Sharp finished 16th in the points. It was his last competitive season.