On Saturday, June 14, Matt McMurry, 16, from Phoenix, Arizona became the youngest driver to ever start the world-renowned 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race in Le Mans, France. According to Le Mans, in the early laps of the race, McMurry got in the Greaves Motorsport’s No. 41 Zytek ZS11 Nissan in the LMP2 class and took off.
With that act, the high school junior broke a 55-year record, according to NBC Sports; the former youngest starter was Ricardo Rodriguez who was 17 years and four months old when he started in the 1959 race.
McMurry drives the 24-hour race with team-mates Dyson Racing sporting director Chris Dyson and Greaves veteran Tom Kimber-Smith. According to Arizona Central, McMurry is the son of former Le Mans competitor, Chris McMurry who also drove with Dyson.
According to NBC Sports, the younger McMurry finished fourth in both of the first two European Le Mans Series races this season, at Silverstone in April and Imola.
Oddly enough, and perhaps to the disbelief of much older drivers, McMurry's participation in the race is the culmination of a school project. He stated to FOX: "I got my first taste of Le Mans in 2008 as a 10-year-old, when my dad raced there," he said. "Two years later for a 7th grade school project about what I wanted to accomplish before attending university, I listed 'to become the youngest driver ever at Le Mans.' That’s when this incredible journey began."
The young driver went from karting to Formula Skip Barber, Formula Mazda Bondurant, USF2000 and IMSA Lites. According to FOX, he progressed through the junior open-wheel and prototype ranks in less than 40 months under the direction of driver coach Gerardo Bonilla, a former factory Mazda LMP2 driver.
McMurry is one of well over 30 rookie Le Mans drivers this year. According to Arizona Central, most recent winners of Le Mans have been in their 30s and 40s.
With the 24 Hours of Le Mans taking place over Father's Day weekend in the States, the second-generation McMurry driver has likely got his Dad's day gift covered a day early this year.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance sports car race runs continuously overnight Saturday into Sunday in France.