HPD Driver Academy Proves Successful, Repeatedly
The idea behind the HPD GT3 Driver Academy was to take young professional racing drivers and coach them through championship expertise into a fruitful career at the highest level of professional motorsports. With a quick start to the SRO GT3 PRO AM season at Sonoma, the team of Taylor Hagler and Dakota Dickerson scored a double podium in their first ever GT3 race with Racers Edge Motorsports. The 2019 and 2020 SRO champions at Racers Edge Motorsports were happy to see the early success of the program, but knew these drivers were capable of reaching victory lane.
Throughout the next three events of the season Racers Edge and the Academy graduates Jacob Abel, Taylor Hagler, and Dakota Dickerson were able to rack up several podiums. With mechanical a few mechanical troubles denying the team some perfect podium weekends at COTA and VIR, the team was continuing to see the pace of the drivers improve and their familiarity racing with other drivers in the SRO paddock began to encourage close racing. Holding second in the Driver’s Championship in the Pro-Am category, Taylor Hagler was continuing to put together a consistent, competitive points campaign.
The team’s hard work and dedication to driver development paid huge dividends at the GT World Challenge America Round at Road America. Taylor Hagler would put in a stellar first stint in the #93 Acura NSX GT3 Evo that would see her gain several spots in the class going into the pit window. After Taylor and Fred Poordad pitted late in the pit window Dakota Dickerson would take the #93 car out to battle for first in class. Dakota passed a key competitor for the lead and led for the remainder of the race, allowing Racers Edge Motorsports and the HPD GT3 Driver academy graduates to take their first victory in 2021. For Hagler and Dickerson, this was their first GT3 class victory. For Racers Edge Motorsports, it proved that the dedication and experience with driver development combined with the HPD GT3 Driver academy would bring results and bring results soon.
At Watkins Glen, the team would again prove competitive. With Taylor Hagler taking the green flag in race one, the #93 Acura was again showing competitive pace. Taylor would battle hard with Erin Vogel for second in class. In the end Hagler would prevail and make the pass for second, slowly opening up a gap to the Mercedes of Vogel. With a quick pit stop by the Racers Edge Motorsports pit crew, led by brothers Jim and Nick Pattin, the #93 piloted by Jacob Abel would jump the Compass Racing Acura and sit in the lead of the Pro-Am class. Jacob successfully defended his lead from Matt McMurry and bring home his first GT3 victory with Racers Edge Motorsports bring in a second win on the season.
Sebring International Raceway is the home track for Racers Edge on the SRO calendar. Only a 3-hour drive from DeLand, FL, the team was excited to share the passion for motorsports with their friends and family. In front of kids, brothers, sisters, and uncles Racers Edge Motorsports would again put on a show. With an early blunder caused by another car, Dakota Dickerson would fall quickly to the back of the field after only a few corners. Then he began to climb.
Dakota, using lessons learned throughout the season and from professional coaches such as Dane Cameron, Ryan Eversley, Mario Farnbacher, and Ricky Taylor, was able to begin his charge back through the pack. After laying down fast lap after fast lap, Dakota would hand off the car to Taylor Hagler in second place in Pro-Am, sixth overall. Hagler would make an expert pass on Fred Poordad that would put her up into fifth overall and first in class. Hagler would hold off Poordad after a caution brought the pack back together and would notch her and the team’s third win of the season.
The final test of the season for the Racers Edge crew would be one of the world’s largest GT races in the world, the GT World Challenge Indy 8 Hour. This event brought not only SRO America competition, but also competitors from SRO globally as well as IMSA. With a field of 39 GT3 and GT4 cars, the stage was set for what would be a classic endurance race. The Racers Edge team again showed off their lessons in driver development and pace gained throughout the season by consistently running in the top three in class (Pro-Am) and eventually bringing home a second-place finish in class.
This marked an impactful end to the race, and a punctuation mark to a statement of a season. This statement simply being, “This program works”. Racers Edge, in partnership with Honda Performance Development and our sponsors, Dayco and DFS, proved that driver development through the Academy format can see success immediately.
Racers Edge would like to thank our fans and sponsors as well as our partners at Honda Performance Development. We would like to send out a special thanks to our crew and our Academy graduates and drivers. Racers Edge Motorsports would not be who we are or where we are without the support from all of these individuals and are looking forward to seeing what we can achieve in 2022.