Scott Sharp didn’t swap driving for ownership – he doubled down, and is enjoying success with both.
AT THE SHARP END
lenty of athletes have been glad to
have a college degree to fall back on
when their playing days ended. But for
Scott Sharp, his hard-earned degree has
been pressed into service while he’s still
very much at the top of his chosen game.
The 45-year-old Connecticut native
continues to perform at a high level in
prototype sports car racing, while pulling
double duty as owner of the Extreme
Speed Motorsports team he drives for.
In 2013, ESM ran two HPD ARX-03b
prototypes in the American Le Mans
Series’ P2 class, with Sharp in the thick of
a close title battle right until the season-closing Petit Le Mans enduro. Next year,
P2 joins forces with Grand-Am’s Daytona
Protypes to form the top class of the new
TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
The son of six-time SCCA champ and
long-time Nissan proponent Bob Sharp,
Scott was able to observe the things that
make a racing team successful from an
early age. He knew he wanted to pursue a
driving career, but completed a business
degree from Babson College before
embarking on a 20-year racing odyssey
that’s netted numerous race wins and titles
in Trans-Am, Indy cars and now sports cars.
Sharp first partnered with Tequila
Patron as an associate sponsor for his
2006 IndyCar Series program, and the
relationship expanded when they joined
forces with Highcroft Racing in the ALMS
in ’08. By then, he’d developed a close
friendship with Patron CEO Ed Brown, who
at the end of ’09 suggested Sharp should
take the next step and form his own team.
“My dad always had his own team,
and when I first started driving, I kind of
envisioned taking over that side of things
someday,” Sharp recalls. “Then my career
took a different turn and I went and
drove for other teams. Once I got into
IndyCar, I thought I’d never get into team
ownership. But having grown up around
my dad’s team, I find it natural.”
This is where the business degree that
Sharp had tucked away a quarter century
and thousands of racing miles ago started
paying dividends. Still, he found there
was a huge amount to learn from a
team ownership perspective.
“It’s exciting for me,” he relates.
“Having been around the business, you
get a feeling for where you should spend
your money and where you shouldn’t –
where the focus should be; where the
resources should be allocated.
“If I wasn’t driving, I always envisioned
that I would be fully invested in mergers
and acquisitions, or some form of
fast-paced business, buying and selling,”
he adds. “So a lot of this is kind of second
nature, and it’s a lot of fun to be able to
do both together, actually.”
Does ownership make a driver more
circumspect and (whisper it) slower?
Sharp thinks not. Despite knowing to the
penny how much every wing, washer and
windscreen costs, he’s confident that he
hasn’t changed the way he races.
(INSET) From an
early age, Scott
taking on a team
(MAIN) In 2013,
he oversaw a
transition from GT
to P2 prototypes.