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AGHAKHANI: Living the Dream

Steven Aghakhani files his latest column ahead of California double-header…

Photo: Supplied

Saying it has always been a dream of mine to race at Long Beach may sound like a Golden State line of B.S. from a Hollywood script. But as an 18-year-old born and raised in Los Angeles, I can honestly say that being able to race not only at Long Beach but WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca as well in a tight two-week period is truly living the dream.

This weekend at Laguna, my co-driver Jacob Eidson and I will be looking to gain even more ground on the IMSA Lamborghini Super Trofeo Pro-class points leader in our No. 6 SADA Systems/US RaceTronics Lamborghini Super Trofeo Huracan Evo.

Then, just two weekends later, Jacob and I will make our IMSA GTD class debut in the No. 26 US RaceTronics Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo with new sponsorship from The Global Wealth Solutions Group of Raymond James.

It’s going to be a period in my life and career I am going to look back on.

Growing up living only about 30 miles away from Long Beach, it has always been a race on our radar, something we have always wanted to do.

Every year we try to go down and watch it because it is so close, an awesome, packed event and so many different types of cars on the track. I can’t wait to be able to look back and say, “we drove Long Beach.”

Of course, without the support we have with SADA Systems, our new partner Raymond James and all our amazing sponsors, we wouldn’t have the chance to even get close to being able to run all these incredible races with these crazy cars.

Without them, we wouldn’t be able to do anything. It’s a huge thank you to all of them for their support.

Photo: Provided

SADA alone has been with us for quite a while now and it is just amazing to know they are going to be with us for not only Laguna Seca but Long Beach too.

And as far as our new partner Raymond James, you can’t get any more high-profile than that. It just goes to show the kind of support we are getting, and that if you work hard enough the results really do pay off.

We work so hard to get our name out there and earn results on track, so to get Raymond James to sponsor us to go racing is just incredible.

This is the company that sponsors Raymond James Stadium, the home of the Super Bowl Champions and where the 2021 NFL season begins tonight. You can’t be in better company than that!

It’s honestly just such an honor, to come from where we were three to four years ago with no experience and no knowledge to being fully sponsored for the racing dream at Long Beach. It’s by the beach, right next to the ocean, but you can still go grab a bite at a great restaurant after the race less than half a mile away.

We are doing a race that is on everyone’s bucket list. A hard effort has paid off, but I must give a big thank you to all the sponsors, the whole team, my father Armik Aghakhani (that’s us in the picture at Long Beach when I was 14) and everyone who has supported us the entire way.

Without them, we would be nowhere close to being there. We have one chance to win this race in our debut, and we are going to throw everything we have at it.

Photo: Jamey Price

The first order of business, however, is Laguna Seca. It has always been one of those tracks that we can come back to after three years and still crank out an absolute banger of a lap.

We always test well there, and we always race well at Laguna Seca. Anytime we come back we know right what we are doing with a minimum of prep work, and we are ready to go. That’s what we are looking for this weekend.

We closed ground on the championship leaders in the last race at Road America, and the goal is to gain even more ground at Laguna Seca.

The first time I went to Laguna Seca I was 13 – so it has been on the hunt for a while now – but my first race at Long Beach was when I was nine or ten.

So, I have been going there for about half of my life, but the next time will be to race there.

We are going to do a shakedown in the Mercedes-AMG GT3 as soon as we get back from Laguna Seca on Monday. My co-driver Jacob will be there too, and I am looking forward to getting behind the wheel of that front-engine beast again.

We have an “off” weekend after Laguna, but we are going to stay firmly focused on Long Beach because you just can’t go out there and do practice laps.

We are really going to need to put some time in on Long Beach. It will be my first time on a street circuit, so it is going to be a crazy but awesome test all at the same time.

The fans at both races are the best too, and if you read this column and plan to be at Laguna Seca, Long Beach or both, take a minute and say hello.

Thanks for taking the time to read these columns and to Sportscar365 for coming up with this space for us whenever we call.

See you at the track!

Steven Aghakhani is a 17-year-old championship-winning driver, competing in the 2020 Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America Pro class with US RaceTronics and Vincenzo Sospiri Racing in the Italian GT Championship.

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