A Sylvan Lake area driver is in arms reach of three championships this season.
Parker Thompson, 21, is competing as a rookie in IMSA’s Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama and in the Canadian Touring Car Challenge by Pirelli, as well as in Indy Pro 2000 presented by Cooper Tires.
“Moving from open-wheel cars where your helmet is outside and in the open into a car with a roof over your head, which is almost triple the weight, has been a big learning curve, but at the same time there’s been a lot of success my first year,” said Red Deer’s Thompson of sports car racing.
Thompson got two podium finishes in his first two sports car races at the beginning of the season in Alabama in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama series, with his first win coming at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on May 4.
Currently, Thompson is sitting second overall in the championship point standings in Porsche Cup Canada.
“I’m always looking for opportunities to prove that I can drive anything,” said Thompson, whose dad owns Sylvan Lake RV.
With more paid positions available in sports car than open-wheel racing, he says you need to go where the opportunities are.
“I’m not going to say I was closing the door on open-wheel, but a door in sports car opened up and I went down the path this year,” he explained.
The Central Alberta driver is getting to have his cake and eat it too as he also competes for the championship in the Indy Pro 2000 series.
Thompson is currently sitting third in points in the open-wheel series.
He says no one has ever competed for the two full championships in the same season, although the schedules did play out to his advantage, as there are no conflicts this year between the Indy 2000 and the Porsche Canada Cup race weekends.
During the Honda Indy Toronto weekend, July 12-14, Thompson raced double duty at the street course, which he said was a lot harder than he had expected.
He competed in four races that weekend; two with Indy Pro 2000 and two in his Porsche Cup Canada car.
“I would not suggest a driver to try to put on a double duty show, it’s incredibly hard, and if they are going to do it maybe try and pick up two similar cars,” Thompson said in a phone interview.
“[Open-wheel and sports cars are] very, very different disciplines of racing and at the end of the day you’re trying to drive it as fast as you can, but how you drive it fast is two completely different styles,” he added.
Thompson was able to run between paddocks and adapt on the fly to race to three podium finishes in the streets of Toronto.
Due to the series’ he drives in having a lack of races in Western Canada, Thompson has adopted Toronto as his home track as he lives with his billet family in Etobicoke when he can’t make it back to Red Deer between races.
With almost 10 weeks straight of racing so far and the schedules set to get busier with championships coming into the fall he spends a lot of time in Toronto.
Picking up a ride in a series that would put him back on home turf is on his radar though.
“I would love to get a home race, not only in Edmonton but also a Saskatchewan race as well, I think it would be really cool,” said Thompson. “I’ve been in talks in the past with a few teams, it hasn’t happened yet, but definitely something I’m open to.”
On top of the two complete schedules with Indy Pro 2000 and Porsche Canada Cup, he is also vying for the championship in the Canadian Touring Car Championship.
Thompson is leading that championship with two race weekends remaining after winning every race so far.
He will head to the streets of Trois-Rivières, Quebec with CTCC after a weekend at Road America in Wisconsin with the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada.
On Aug. 2-4 the Canadians will be heading south of the border to race the GT3 Porsche Cup Challenge USA drivers.
One race of the season each year the Canadians go down to compete, while the American championship drivers also take a race to come up to race north of the border.
“There’s a ton of talent when you put Porsche Cup USA and Porsche Cup Canada against each other, so going to look at a good clean weekend,” said Thompson. “I think we can really compete and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun to race at a track that I’ve had some good history at already this year.”
Thompson claimed a pole position and two podium finishes at Road America in Indy Pro 2000 earlier this season.
He has three race weekends left in the Indy Pro 2000 series and two weekends in Porsche Cup Canada this season.
In the racing world talks of next season have already begun and Thompson has already sat down with a few teams and has received a few offers for next year, possibly across multiple series’ again.
“If I had the choice I’d definitely remain on the path to IndyCar,” explained Thompson. “I think Indy Lights is the next logical step granted I can raise the money to move there if I don’t win the championship.”
Moving up to Indy Lights would set him on the path, and with winning the Indy Lights championship comes a grant of over a million dollars to run a season in IndyCar.
“At the end of the day since I was a kid that’s been my dream and my goal is to make it to IndyCar and I think I’d be disappointed in my career if I at least didn’t give that a shot.”