U.S.-based Ecuadorean sports car veteran Elton Julian announced he will retire from active competition after the FIA World Endurance Championship finale in Shanghai, China on Oct. 28. After his LMPC podium finish for PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports at Petit Le Mans, the 38-year-old will join teammates Christian Zugel and Ricardo Gonzalez in the Greaves Motorsport Zytek Z11SN-Nissan for his third race in as many weekends.
Julian's career began at age 16 when he won 36 of 49 races on his way to four Skip Barber Formula Ford titles. He remains the youngest-ever winner of a British F3 race, signed an F1 testing contract at age 20, and scored a podium result in his first Daytona 24 Hours in 1995.
After a six-year layoff from driving, Elton was the highest-placed rookie in the 2005 Le Mans 24 Hours, setting his team's fastest practice and race laps. In 2010, he was tapped to co-drive Gunnar Racing's LMPC entry in the American Le Mans Series, finishing third in the final points with wins at Long Beach, Lime Rock, Road America, and Mosport. 2011 brought two more LMPC victories as he ran both the ALMS and European Le Mans Series with Genoa Racing. A step up to the revived WEC for 2012 has seen Elton lead Greaves Motorsport to fourth overall in the hotly contested LMP2 class, claiming third in WEC and fifth in class at both Spa and Le Mans.
Going into his final race, Elton's sports car record stands at 6 wins, 16 podiums, two pole positions, two fastest laps, one new lap record, and 27 finishes from 28 starts.
“Ironically, the driver ranking system that helped get me back in the game in 2010 is now making it harder to find a competitive seat,” said Julian. “There aren't many top slots for 'gold-level' drivers available at the moment. At the same time, the opportunity to take DragonSpeed to the next level is very real and exciting, and I'm ready and eager to give the team my full attention. After our dream result at Le Mans and a full season at world championship level, I can say I'm ending this stage of my life on a high.
“After my family, my greatest thanks go to my DragonSpeed partners, David and Pete Aronson, who have been there for me for so much of my career. I wouldn't have had these last three years as a pro driver without Christian Zugel and Kevin Jeannette, or enjoyed the experience so much. They didn't just help me prove what I could do in a race car, they also helped me prepare for a future running racecars as a team principal.”
“It's been 20 years since I met Elton, on the day he won his British F3 race at Thruxton and looked a sure bet to make it to F1,” said David Aronson. “But we all know talented young drivers need a few breaks to make it to the top, and that didn't happen for Elton first time around. My brother Pete and I are very proud to have helped Elton renew his driving career, and he's repaid our faith every single time he's climbed in the cockpit. We feel just as positive about the foundation Elton has built for DragonSpeed since 2008, and are looking forward to many more years of working – and success – together.”