Stephen Simpson is a racing driver from South Africa who competes in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in recent years.
Earlier in a career, he competed in several open-wheel championships (A1 Grand Prix, Indy Lights, Atlantic Series, Formula Renault) but without notable results.
Successful start of a career in karting competitions
Born in January 1984 in Poole, England, Simpson moved to South Africa with his family when he was ten months old. He started his racing career at the age 8 in karting competitions, winning few regional and national titles.
Simpson switched to car racing in 2000, becoming the youngest driver in the South African Formula Ford Championship and then the youngest champion, winning the championship in his first attempt. In 2001, Simpson returned to Britain to compete in the British Formula Ford Championship.
Moving to Formula Renault in 2002
In 2002, Simpson joined the Italian team Durango to competed in the Formula Renault, driving for the team both in the Italian championship and Eurocup. He scored no points in nine Eurocup races while he manages to score some points in the Italian Formula Renault.
Simpson's plan to race in the Formula Renault in 2003 was ruined when sponsor pulled out, so he stayed without a drive for a year. He returned to Formula Renault in 2004, driving for Team JLR in British championship. He was on a podium two times, finishing 10th in the points. In 2005, he scored three podiums with Team JLR to finish tenth in the points again.
Representing South Africa in the A1 Grand Prix Series
In September 2005, Simpson joined Team South Africa to participate in the inaugural season of the A1 Grand Prix Series. He was driving for the team in nine rounds, scoring one podium at Dubai Autodrome.
The other drive in two rounds was Tomas Scheckter. Team South Africa finished in 17th place among 25 countries.
Short experience in the Champ Car Atlantic
In 2006, Simpson joined Gelles Racing in the Champ Car Atlantic Championship, driving the #14 car in three rounds. After finishing fifth at Fundidora Park in Monterrey, Mexico, he left the team.
Later that year he rejoined Team South Africa in one round of the A1 Grand Prix Series, in October at Autodrom Brno.
2007 – a season in the Indy Pro Series
In 2007, Simpson returned to the United States to compete in the Indy Pro Series (today Indy Lights). He was driving the #24 car for Kenn Hardley Racing, scoring five top 5 results, including third place at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
At the end of the season, he was ninth in the points and fourth among rookies. Kenn Hardley closed his team and Simpson had no ride for 2008, so it was his last season in open-wheel racing.
2008 – a season in a Creation LMP1 prototype
Having no ride in open-wheel racing competitions, Simpson started his sports car racing career. He joined British team Creation AIM to drive their Creation CA07 LMP1 prototype in selected races of the American Le Mans Series and Le Mans Series.
Five years out of racing, return in 2014
Simpson was out of racing for five seasons, from 2009 to 2013, returning to action in 2014 when he joined JDC Miller Motorsports in the IMSA Tudor United SportsCar Championship. He was driving the #85 Oreca FLM 09-Chevrolet in the Prototype Challenge class, participating in eight races and sharing a car with Chris Miller. Their endurance co-drivers were Gerry Kraut, Tomy Drissi and Mikhail Goikhberg.
The highlight of the season was the third place in Road America. Simpson finished ninth in the final PC class standings.
Class podium at 2015 Daytona 24 Hours
In 2015, Simpson stayed with JDC Miller Motorsports in the IMSA Championship, driving the #85 Oreca in just three races – Daytona 24 Hours, Belle Isle and Lime Rock. Sharing a car with Mikhail Goikhberg, Chris Miller, Tristan Vautier and Rusty Mitchell, he finished third at Daytona. He and Goikhberg were second in class at Detroit Belle Isle.
Besides racing with Oreca FLM 09 in the IMSA Championship, Simpson also participated in few rounds of the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, driving a Mini John Cooper Works in ST class.
Class victory at 2016 Daytona 24 Hours
In 2016, Simpson became the full-time driver of the #85 Oreca FLM 09, together with Mikhail Goikhberg. They scored two wins to finish third in the final classification of Prototype Challenge class. They were class winners at Daytona 24 Hours, sharing a car with Chris Miller and Kenton Koch. The second victory came at Long Beach.
In 2016, Simpson also continued to race occasionally in the ST class of the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, driving the #54 BMW 228i.
Moving to Prototype class in 2017
In 2017, JDC Miller Motorsports stayed with Oreca but moved to Prototype class, running the #85 Oreca 07-Gibson LMP2 prototype. Stephen Simpson and Mikhail Gokhberg were again full-time drivers, with Chris Miller as an endurance co-driver and Mathias Beche as the fourth driver at Daytona 24h.
They finished fifth at Daytona and fourth at Sebring. The first podium came at Watkins Glen 6 Hours, where the #85 finished in the second place. In the next race, at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Simpson and Goikhberg were second again. They finished fourth in the final standings of Prototype class, behind three teams with Cadillac DPi.
For the 2018 IMSA Championship season, Simpson has been announced again as a full-time driver of Oreca LMP2 prototype for JDC-Miller Motorsports, but he moved to Gainsco-sponsored #99 car. He and Misha Goikhberg scored their maiden Prototype class win at Watkins Glen 6 Hours and finished fourth in the final standings of the season.
In 2019, Simpson was sharing the #84 Cadillac DPi with Simon Trummer. Not scoring wins or podiums, they finished eighth in the points.