Earl Bamber relished the special opportunity to drive alongside Kiwi motorsport legend Scott Dixon in this month’s Petit Le Mans.
Bamber, who is driving full-time for Chip Ganassi Racing in the IMSA series next year, was recruited to share the No.1 Cadillac Prototype with Dixon and Renger van der Zande at the last minute.
The team’s regular driver Kevin Magnussen had fallen ill before the race, and Bamber was drafted in to fill the vacant seat.
Bamber was on his way to the local coffee shop when he received the call he was needed for the day’s ten-hour race.
Fortunately, he had tested the car at the Road Atlanta circuit before the weekend, so it didn’t take too long for him to find his grove.
However, the team’s race fell to pieces when a loose brake rotor cost them a lap, which they never recovered.
Still, Bamber came away with a massive grin and special memories.
“Sharing a car with Scott Dixon, and just driving for Chip Ganassi Racing…as a kid when you grow up in New Zealand, we were following Scott Dixon and Chip Ganassi Racing,” Bamber told Sportscar365.
“To finally drive for him, share a car with Scott, race some of the people you’ve looked up to on TV for years was a pretty phenomenal day, really. It was very special.
“It was just a shame we didn’t get more of a result that we deserved because I think we had a top-three car.”
Bamber also says the unexpected chance to get some early race mileage ahead of his debut season will pay big dividends this time next year.
“That first race experience was really, really helpful.
“I’m learning a lot and looking forward to getting into the season. I didn’t expect that it would already start racing at Petit, but I just had a massive smile on my face when I got out of the car.
“The car and team we’ve got, I think it’s going to be a really good season.”
Bamber and Dixon begin their 2022 IMSA season with the Daytona 24 Hour on the last weekend of January.