Josh Pierson Goes from Guitar Hero to Grand Prix Champ with His Gym Bag

While most 16-year-olds are just at the beginning stages of envisioning what they want to do in adulthood, Josh Pierson has already begun making history in motorsports. Last year, he won the 1,000 Miles of Sebring, which was his debut race—making him the youngest-ever FIA World Endurance Championship race winner.

In June, he became the youngest driver ever to compete in the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans motor race. Signed to United Autosports and with the PR 1/ Mathiasen team, Pierson has five wins and 15 podiums under his belt. The Wilsonville, Ore. native could be the reason endurance racing begins to pique American interest again, or he could test his talents in other racing disciplines. The only certainty seems to be that you will be hearing his name for years to come.

Pierson recently unpacked some of his race day essentials for Muscle and Fitness as he prepares for this weekend’s 8 hours of Bahrain. Right from his Ogio Rig 9800, we dove into everything from his peanut butter M&M’s to what he’s playing on his travel guitar during his downtime.

United Autosports
  • Ogio gear bag: This is a race travel must for me. This one has over 200k air miles on it!
  • Hans device: This is a neck brace aka my guardian angel for my safety. The Hans device attaches to my helmet and the belts go over the Hans. Your head can still move a little bit, but it stops at some point. The Hans, the belts and the seat that you’re in are taking a lot of the force as opposed to your neck. It has saved a lot of drivers and it’s now required to race.
  • Knne pads: My knee pads are newer and are also fireproof. I was struggling physically in the car and knee pads are a great way to find support in the car. Formula cars typically have a cut out in the center to hold your legs in place, so your legs don’t move around. With the prototypes during endurance races, we have to do driver changes. With the cut out in the seat, your legs move around a lot and are almost floating in the car and get banged around. The knee pads help support the legs and hold them in place more which is beneficial. It helps physically and my knees aren’t getting bruised anymore. I use them a majority of the time now and it’s always nice to have them with me.
  • HRX fireproof undershirt and pants: Fortunately, I’ve never had any fire issues and it is very rare to happen, but it feels good to have it on and I’m happy to wear it.
  • HRX fireproof head sock: Fireproof head sock that is in case of a fire and goes under my helmet. It also keeps my helmet nicer for a longer period of time since I sweat more in the head sock
  • Sparco gloves: These are my fireproof gloves. As you can tell by now, we’re at high risk for fires in my line of work! These are one of my many pairs of gloves.
  • Radio ear buds: These earbuds plug directly into my helmet which plugs into my car so I can communicate with my team throughout the race. It’s an important line of communication that not many fans know about.
  • Travel guitar: I’ve always loved music and I always travel with my guitar for use during downtime. I really enjoyed playing in the band while I was at school in-person and since I’m now in online school, it was something I couldn’t continue to do, so I was looking for an instrument to learn and play solo. I picked up guitar and started teaching myself how to play. I travel with it so I can continue practicing and learning. There’s a lot of time we spend in our trailers as we wait for our sessions, so it’s a great way to pass the time and learn a new skill! I’ve started to put together some chords and patterns that I’ve learned, so it’s been really exciting to play with those techniques. I try to emulate Marcin Patrzalek, who plays fingerstyle guitar and a few other guitarists like Edward Ong and Eddie Van Der Meer. I think that sound is really unique and cool.
  • Extra suits, gloves and shoes: I have about seven pairs of gloves and three pairs of shoes for every race just in case.
  • OMP racing shoes: I love my OMP racing boots. They’re fireproof and very thin so that I can feel the pedals. A feel for your feet is extremely important when racing.
  • Checkered bucket hat: This has become my trademark over the years. I’m always wearing a hat around the pits to protect myself from the sun. The checkered hat is very out there, and it gets a few looks, but it’s always come with me. I have this hat and a wide brim fishing hat that I always wear.
  • Peanut Butter M&M’s: These are my favorite sugar vice and I always have a bag with me – always.
  • JP Racing stickers: I always pack stickers and cards to sign autographs and pass out to the younger fans since it always makes them smile. It’s amazing to see the next generation of fans. The younger ones don’t even realize how much younger I am than most of the other racers.
  • EOS lip balm: I bring lip balm because I try to keep hydrated when sitting in the car for hours at a time. You’d be surprised how dehydrated your body can get just sitting in the car.
  • Sparco and HRX racing suits
  • Stilo helmet with my trademark globe on top
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Race car driver Josh Pierson in his racing track suit on the tarmac
United Autosports

You can follow Josh on Instagaram at @josh_pierson_racing