Getting Miles Ahead … at 17

April 15, 2011

Getting Miles Ahead … at 17

April 15, 2011

Miles Maroney, No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Oreca FLM09. Photo courtesy of PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports

American Le Mans Series debutante Miles Maroney let his high school teachers know he was taking a sick day this Friday. This isn’t your typical sick day, however.

He has a fever for racing, and the only prescription was more track time.

Maroney, just 17, becomes the youngest participant in series history as he makes his first start in the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Oreca FLM09 in the LMP Challenge class. Maroney, just two years removed from karting, will race with Alex Figge in the car.

“I didn’t even know that stat until this weekend, when people started bringing it up at the track, really,” Maroney said. “To say you’re the youngest ever at something is special, and hopefully I could add youngest winner to that.”

The Topanga, Calif. native tested at Buttonwillow on Tuesday to get acclimated with the car and the Bobby Oergel-led operation, with his first official laps coming in Friday morning’s two-hour practice session.

While Maroney said the main differences with the LMPC car to a formula car were the power and paddle shifters (from an H-pattern gearbox), he also said the change in aerodynamics was “ridiculous!”

Getting to debut at one of the most historic street circuits in North America was an accomplishment, too. Learning the nature of the track was part of the process.

“I like the circuit, even though I had a couple moments in practice,” Maroney said. “The layout isn’t hard — you just feel out the nuances and subtleties of each corner.”

Co-driver Figge returns to the team after making two starts for PR1/Mathiasen in 2010. He finished on the podium in class in both appearances at Utah and Lime Rock Park. Maroney said in two hours, Figge helped show him what to expect and look out for during the race.

The duo looks to give the team its first ALMS win and upend Gunnar Jeannette as a Long Beach winner in LMPC. Incidentally, Maroney supplants Jeannette as the youngest. Jeannette started his ALMS career at age 17 in 2000.

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