Today, On February 5th, 2024, Southern Paley Motorsports announced their new program and entry into the IMSA Mustang Challenge Series. Southern Paley Motorsports, also known as “SPM Motorsports”, will be operated by lifelong friends Sam Paley and John Paul Southern Jr. The pair have known each other for well over 10 years and together bring a combined 30 years of motorsports and racing experience to the team. The team will be situated in a brand new, state of the art facility at the Motor Enclave in Tampa, FL.
Southern Jr, the 2020 Trans-Am TA2 Southern Cup Champion, has spent the last 3 years racing in Europe in series such as ADAC GT4, DTM Trophy, and ADAC GT masters. Additionally, Southern was a Lamborghini GT3 test driver in 2023. On the other hand, Paley, the 2021 Mazda MX-5 Cup Rookie of the Year, has ample experience in the IMSA paddock through his tenure in the MX-5 Cup. Paley achieved 9 podiums and 4 poles across the last 3 years in the IMSA sanctioned series.
Apart from their driving accolades, the pair have backgrounds in managing and operating race team programs. Southern managed the 2022 T3 Motorsport Germany entry to P8 in GTD at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona and led the team to become the highest finishing Lamborghini. Paley is currently the Team Principal and a Managing Director for TKG Motorsports’ Spec MX-5 program.
“Having experience both as a driver and a team manager at the highest levels of sports car racing gives our brand an upper hand in the Mustang Challenge. Sam and I can use our expertise in both of these areas to create a reliable and competitive package for any customer,” says team co-owner Southern.
Currently, Southern Paley Motorsports plans to enter 1 car in the 2024 Mustang Challenge, but has plans to quickly expand. The Mustang Challenge season kicks off at Mid-Ohio in early June, but SPM will be undergoing an extensive pre-season testing program beforehand.
“This is something that JP and I have been talking about for a couple years, and I could not be more excited to see it coming into fruition. The Mustang Challenge will be one of the most exciting racing series in the United States, and it’s fantastic to see Ford’s commitment to building purpose built race cars. We are looking to grow our Mustang Challenge program in the years to come,” says other team co-owner Paley.
“I’m extremely excited to start this new endeavor and happy to be able to provide a great product to future customers. I’m a racer at heart, and I love the sport so much. I believe our hard work in the paddock will pay off. We have big plans for the future with SPM, and I believe we will achieve great things not only this year but in the years to come,” says Southern.
Furthermore, SPM announces the beginning of a strategic partnership with TKG Motorsports to complete a comprehensive and revolutionary ladder system. This ladder system begins at the grassroots go-karting level with Trinity Karting Group and the Motorsports Country Club of Cincinnati. Trinity Karting Group develops young and aspiring karting drivers both at the local and national karting scene. From there, TKG Motorsports offers an affordable next step for go-karters looking to advance their career with their Spec MX-5 program. Lastly, Southern Paley Motorsports fulfills the final step of the ladder through their entry into the Mustang Challenge. The conglomerated program’s main goal is to propel talented drivers through the ranks of motorsports and offer a unique karts to cars development program.
Commenting on the ladder system, Paley says that “the ability to link the two teams I’m involved in is great and providing the next step has been one of my main goals since I started with TKG Motorsports. Throughout my career, I have frequently asked, “What is the next step”, and I’ve always struggled to answer that question. My hope is that this umbrella helps young drivers find that answer.”
Southern Paley Motorsports is eager to be a part of the first ever season of the IMSA Mustang Challenge and is looking forward to the commencement of the series this June. In the meantime visit southernpaleymotorsports.com to learn more.