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Scott Tucker's Level 5 Motorsports Brings The Le Mans Prototype Back To America

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Sports/Touring Car Racing Topics:  Scott Tucker

Scott Tucker's Level 5 Motorsports Brings The Le Mans Prototype Back To America

Brent Arends
Level 5 Motorsports
October 1, 2011

The story of Scott Tucker's career is what some would call a Cinderella story, an American classic: A successful private equity investor from a Kansas town enters his first professional motorsports race at age 44, and five years later, he's constantly atop the podium after races in multiple series—Grand-Am, Ferrari, American Le Mans Series and the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup. Earlier this year, Tucker made podium at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in his debut season in the LMP2 class.

Obviously, not just any person could pull off the kind of late-bloomer success Tucker has achieved. His skill level, endurance, technique and depth of knowledge would not exist if not for an enormous passion for the sport. Scott Tucker loves cars—before he had the opportunity to race, he built a sort-of car museum in his Leawood, Kansas home. So it's fitting that Tucker, the unlikely American Le Mans hero, would be the first American to enter his team in the Le Mans Prototype class in nearly 25 years.

"Breaking into the Le Mans series has always been on my mind," Tucker said. "I could wait another 10 years for the time to be right, but we got an opportunity and decided to go for it."

The Le Mans Prototype, or LMP, are the fastest closed-wheel racing cars on contemporary circuit racing tracks. Their cost and technology are comparable to that of Formula One cars, but LMP vehicles top out at even higher speeds than Formula One cars. No wonder Tucker couldn't wait to get in one. After he barreled through the LMP series, Tucker moved into the LMP2 class. Mid-season, a Honda Performance Development/Wirth Research partnership was finishing work on a cost-capped prototype that would allow for increased speeds compared to other LMP2 engines. It wasn't any wonder when Tucker reserved the first two out of development.

The Le Mans Prototype was used for the first time at the 1992 24 Hours of Le Mans, when a small field of competitors caused the race to be open to small, open-cockpit race cars using production road car engines in an attempt to expand the field. At the end of that year, the World Sportscar Championship and the All Japan Sports Prototype Championship organizations dissolved, which left expensive Group C prototypes without much competition beyond Le Mans races, which were few and far between. As Group C became obsolete, the Le Mans Prototype class was created. In 1999, the American Le Mans Series was created, allowing for a much broader competitor base because more Le Mans races would be held each season.

Today, a driver can race in an LMP, LMP2 or LMP1 class, in two of which Tucker has made his mark. In 2010, during his debut season in the Le Mans series, Tucker took the LMP championship and won rookie of the year. Moving forward in to LMP2 for the 2011 season, Tucker started racking up podium finishes at breakneck speed, with impressive finishes at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring, Infineon and 24 Hours of Le Mans.

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Brent Arends has been keeping a close eye on Scott Tucker, owner and driver, of Level 5 Motorsports throughout the past year. To get more information about Tucker, check out http://www.motorsport.com/#/all/search/?q=scott%252520tucker



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