Alongside ST Racing teammates Chandler Hull and Samantha Tan, this Floridian native (now residing in California) has hit the ground running in his maiden campaign in the 24H SERIES: the ST Racing crew has thus far taken three class wins and two subsequent GT4 podiums, and its drivers are currently third coverall in the Overall GT Drivers’ standings. Of course, racing sports cars quickly is nothing new to Jon Miller.
Having cut his racing teeth in the Skip Barber Racing series, Miller went on to compete in everything from Mazda MX-5s and Honda Civics to Ford Mustangs and Porsche 911s in Grand-Am and the World Challenge in North America, rapidly establishing himself as a frontrunner in each of them. There was also time for a 24H SERIES debut (at the 2017 Hankook 24H DUBAI aboard a Zestcar Zest Racecar Engineering SEAT Leon TCR) and a one-off run in the VLN. It was in the rebranded GT4 America Series though that Miller truly hit his stride, a series in which he would secure his first championship – the SprintX West Pro-Am Cup – in 2019, an accolade he hopes to repeat in 2021.
Turns out he’s also very familiar with a galaxy far, far away…
“Jon Lee Miller.”
“I’m old enough to know that I should lie about it!”
“My first car race was when I was 16 years old. I was driving my dad’s Audi S4 against my friend’s Mustang GT at the stop light in front of my school… oh, maybe that’s not what you meant!
“My first legal, sanctioned race was at the Sebring International Raceway in the Skip Barber Race Series when I was 17 years old. I don’t come from a motorsports family and I don’t have a karting background, so I went from racing school into the Barber Dodge Pro series.”
“One of the major highlights was winning the GT4 America Pro/Am championship in 2019 with ST Racing in a BMW M4 GT4 It was the first driving championship of my career, a goal that I had been working towards for a long time. We won the title by winning the race at the Portland International Raceway and the flood of emotion that I felt when I crossed the line was overwhelming.
“A close second was in January of 2021, winning the GT4 class at the [Hankook] 24H DUBAI, also with ST Racing.”
“Other than the Nürburgring, my favourite is the Nordschleife.”
*Cue a cynical look from CREVENTIC…
“…okay, sorry! In North America, my favourite tracks are VIR and Watkins Glen. Both are old school, high-speed circuits with great rhythm to the corners. They’re the type of circuits that are extremely challenging and rewarding to drive on, and they race incredibly well. Daytona is also a personal favourite. I lived near there for 10 years and the Daytona 24 Hours is at the top of my list of races that I want to win.”
“The SRO GT4 America SprintX round at VIR in 2020. I was fighting for 3rd overall, running P2 in the Silver class. My teammate [Harry Gottsacker] was just up the road, leading the race overall.
“On the final lap, leaving turn five, my car stumbled and lost power. I coasted halfway down the back straightaway before finally coming to a stop, out of fuel. I called to the team, to ask if my teammate could give me a push up and over the hill so I could roll it downhill into the pitlane. They responded that [Gottsacker] couldn’t push me because he ran out of fuel in the final set of corners and barely coasted across the line in 10th. But seven other cars ran out of fuel before the checker, and a few more just after that! One of our main rivals in the championship had trouble early in the race, so despite not finishing, we were still classified on the podium in-class.
“We’re not certain why so many cars ran out of fuel, but our main theory is that it was a very hot day (90 degrees-plus) and there was an extra pace lap that was not anticipated. Even in that scenario, there have been a margin in our fuel number but so many cars burned more fuel than they expected that day.”
“My current helmet design is an evolution of a theme. The base colour is Laguna Seca Blue, an OEM BMW paint. That’s an homage to our 2019 [GT4 America Series] championship where we won our first overall race at Laguna Seca. The checker pattern on the front in yellow is taken from the design of Biggs Darklighter’s helmet in Star Wars: A New Hope. He was Luke Skywalker’s best friend and mentor who taught him how to fly and inspired him to want to leave his small town and join the rebellion. The font spells out my name and a few other things in Aurebesh, the written alphabet from that universe. I’m a big fan of the original Star Wars movies!”
“My crew would say that my greatest strength is that I am a great multi-tasker. For example, I can drive the car while complaining about the car at the same time. They would also tell you that I can ask for setup changes while also complaining about the car at the same time. And they’d tell you that, at team dinners, I can eat, drink, and complain about the car all at once!”
“Jon Lee Miller seems like an obvious choice. But I’d get to do all of the stunt driving scenes. My wife thinks that I look like Parker Young from the show, Imposters.”
“Retiring won’t come by my choice! Endurance sports car racing has been my focus since early in my career. I want to win the Daytona 24 Hours, the [Hankook] 24H DUBAI – again, but overall next time please! – the Spa 24 Hours, the Nürburgring 24 Hours, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. I’d love to try some NASCAR road course and oval racing. My main focus has been GT cars but I’d like to race prototypes if the opportunity ever presents itself.”
“I hope that people who follow my racing career see that I am a huge supporter of the Race For RP (Relapsing Polychondritis) foundation. They are a group of truly wonderful people working hard to raise awareness and money to fund research to fight the disease and bring hope to those who live with it. Please check out their website, and if you’re in a position to donate to a cause, please consider supporting the foundation.”
“The 24H SERIES has become one of my favourite places to race: the tracks, the series administration and the competition are all great reasons to keep coming back. Getting to compete for a full championship in 2021 is exciting and even with the extra logistical issues with travelling and navigating the Covid-19 restrictions, our enthusiasm for the series is through the roof!”
Jon Lee Miller was speaking with James Gent ahead of the 2021 Hankook 24H BARCELONA. Images courtesy of Petr Frýba and Victor Chadarov.