16-year-old IMSA Driver De Angelis Attempting History by Clinching Both Canadian and USA Series
Wednesday, September 13, 2017

For most 16-year-old high school kids, juggling school, friends and a part-time job is hard enough. Try adding a full-time race career on top of that.

Roman De Angelis, 16, has already clinched the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama Gold Cup class championship for the 2017 season. Now, he's pursuing the championship for the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama series.

De Angelis is currently just six points behind fellow driver Fred Kaimer for the lead. If he wins, he will be the first driver to win dual Canadian and USA championships in the same season.

The Belle River, Ontario, Canada native started driving karts at the age of nine and quickly moved on to national races by age 11. Fast forward to 2017, the young driver is currently competing in three series - both GT3 Cup Challenge championships and the F1600 Quebec Series.

De Angelis' father, Max De Angelis, is a seasoned veteran when it comes to racing. He raced in IMSA's Prototype Lites series for several years. When Roman's season first kicked off at Sebring International Raceway in the very beginning of 2017, his dad thought his first win may have been a fluke.

"I honestly thought he had gotten lucky at Sebring," Max said. "Then we went to the next race at Barber Motorsports Park and he just dominated in that race in the rain. That's when I realized how acclimated he already was in the 911 GT3 Cup car - he kept on winning no matter where he went."

Roman has now won pole position at every single race and won all but one race in the GT3 Cup Challenge Canada series. He's also won pole position at every single race in the USA series. And here's the kicker - almost all of these tracks are new to the young driver.

"He's competing in a Gold class car and consistently finishes in the top five and top 10 against the Platinum drivers - his lap times are within a second of the Platinum cars," Max said.

"I honestly didn't expect to be doing as well as we are," Roman said. "The Canadian series doesn't have too many Gold cars, and I love the tracks because they're street events. But in the American series, you get more exposure with having the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, plus there's more cars. It's been a great year, I'm with a great team - I owe this whole year to Marco [Cirone] and Mark Motors."

The principals at Mark Motors decided to put Roman in a Porsche 997 and were quickly surprised at how fast the young driver was. The team then ran Marco Cirone and Roman in the FARA 500 - a 500-mile race in Florida. The duo finished second in class and sixth overall.

"Sometimes you just get a good feeling, and it was not until we saw Roman race for the first time in our car that we realized how talented he was," said Liza Mrak, co-owner of Mark Motors Group. "Roman knows his place on and off the track and we would bet on him every time."

"The hardest part for me is balancing everything," Roman said. "My dad wants me to get all A's so it's a lot of late nights. When I'm at the track, I'm there from seven in the morning until six at night. Then on top of that, I'm studying late at night, plus working at my part-time job."

That's right - Roman even juggles a part-time job three nights a week making pizzas at a local homemade Italian restaurant.

"He's a very well-rounded, but humble kid," Max said. "His balance at 16 years old is just impressive. He's an honor student - he needs to maintain honors grades, or I won't let him race. He is very, very focused and disciplined and he gets that there's a balance between racing, school and being a 16-year-old kid who wants to have fun. It's a family balance too - we let him know this is a huge privilege what he's doing.

"He's so passionate about Porsche - he's been a Porsche fanatic since he was 10 years old. He's very much in tune with the brand and their style of racing. To him, this is his career path. He understands what he needs to do to stay in the seat.

"In the end, I get to spend 25 to 30 weekends a year with my son. It's a great bonding experience and we have met amazing people from all over the world."

The young driver is hoping he can run in both the Canadian and USA series again next year, with the help of sponsors. He has two races remaining as he attempts to make IMSA history - Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California, and the season finale Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia.