LEHI — Madison Snow is a typical 17-year-old high school student, trying to keep up with school, tweeting about cleaning his room and doing laundry.
He also happens to be a championship race car driver, although it’s hard to explain to his high school classmates.
“I prefer not to bring it up at school,” said Snow, who is a senior at The Waterford School. “They think it’s a hobby. For me, it’s a career.”
For Snow, it’s a career that has been going on for a few years. He just finished his third IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge season — clinching the overall series championship with two races to spare. The IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge is a 16-race series, the largest in North America that uses one car make — the Porsche 911.
"Madison has a natural ability to drive fast," said his mother Melanie, who also races Porsches. "He knows how to set other drivers up to get a pass made smooth and clean. He has a great amount of focus and drives smart, doesn't make mistakes and is very consistent."
Snow has been the youngest driver on the series for three straight years — and now he’s its youngest champion ever. In 2013 he drove his Porsche 911 to first place in seven of the races, finishing worse than third only twice.
"He does work hard at improving his driving skills when at the track," Melanie Snow added. "Working with Pat Long (Porsche factory driver) this year has really stepped up his game. It takes both natural talent and hard work to excel as a top race car driver and Madison has both."
In the 14th race he knew he had a shot to clinch this title, but he said he was focused on finishing well.
“(The Sept. 21) race was a crazy start,” Snow said after the race. “I had a large battle with (Michael) Mills, who kept going off the track when he was trying to pass me. He ended up hitting me really hard in the back one corner, but I ended up getting away and pulled away the rest of the race.”
With two races left and a team title still up for grabs, Snow was back on the track four weeks later at Road Atlanta racetrack in Braselton, Ga., trying to help Snow Racing/Wright Motorsports win its second-straight team title.
“My mindset was still the same, to do the best I can,” he said.
In the double-race weekend, Snow won the first race and placed second in the final race to help wrap up the team title.
“Madison does his job every weekend, and he's really responsible for where we're at and then of course our team has been building on this for the past three years,” Wright Motorsports team owner John Wright said.
Not that Snow was done racing for the weekend. He also joined a three-man team for the 10-hour ALMS Petit Le Mans endurance race. His team finished top of its class, GT3, just ahead of actor Patrick Dempsey’s team.
“The finish was perfect, amazing, couldn't have been any better,” Snow said. “Dempsey was on the podium with me, and I got to talk to him as well as the other drivers at the podium.”
It was an end to a week of practice laps, qualifying, racing, qualifying and racing. Luckily his family was there with him. In fact, going to the track is just something the Snow family does.
Snow Racing's bumper stickers say "CAUTION: SNOW AHEAD," and it's not just a clever play on words, it's a family tradition.
Madison's dad, Martin, has been racing Porsches for several years, while his mom, Melanie, and two other Europeans and Madison teamed up for the prestigious endurance race Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona earlier this year, finishing 11th in their class.
Madison also raced against his mom in the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge in 2011 and 2012. He said it was great having her there, as their pits were right next to each other every week, but on the track “I stayed away,” Madison said.
His parents instilled racing into him at an early age — Melanie brought 6-week-old Madison to the Daytona pits to watch Martin race. At age 4 or 5 he started racing go-carts (his brother McKay, 15, just won season title for his class in the Utah Kart Championship), graduating to Mazda Miatas when he was 14.
All the time away can be pretty daunting for a teen in high school.
“Catching up is horrible at school,” Madison said. “I still have to make up all my work on top of the new work I am given and learn everything that I missed while I was gone.”
Juggling school and racing will be even harder early next year as he moves up to the brand-new Unified SportsCar Championship (which is a merger of the American Le Mans and Rolex Sports Car series). He'll be racing in the GT Daytona class, battling other sports car makes and models.Comment on this story
"Madison will probably travel abroad this next year to do some sprint races overseas in one of the Porsche Cup Series," Melanie Snow said. "It will be a big step up with lots of tough competition but Madison will do well. He will learn lots of new tracks and different ways of wheeling the Porsche around the track."
He plans to go to college next fall, and he says continuing his education around his schedule will be easier.
Sounds like we're going to have a lot of Snow ahead.