After two seasons in Mazda Prototype Lites, including coming just a single point short of being the 2016 champion, Austin Versteeg will make the switch to another IMSA-sanctioned championship next year with a run in the Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo North America series.
The 17-year-old Utah native has joined DXDT Racing’e expanded lineup for 2017, with an eye towards a potential long-term career in GT racing.
Sportscar365 caught up with Versteeg to get his thoughts on the switch and his goals for next year.
Have you had an eye on Super Trofeo for quite some time?
“I have a couple of friends who were in Super Trofeo this year, Madison Snow and Trent Hindman. It was cool to watch those guys on-track [in IMSA weekends] when we were done for the day or had a little bit of break.
“I talked to those guys and see what they thought about it and asked them what they thought if I made the jump over.
“It was something that was always in the back of my mind, to get into a GT car and just a matter of when the time would be right if that time ever came. This year was the best opportunity for that.”
How has the initial tests with the car and team gone?
“I’ve had two tests at Spring Mountain. The team has been great and I have known a lot of the guys for quite some time. They’re based out of Utah as well and I started my career in Utah, so acclimating with them has been great.
“The biggest thing is learning a whole new craft. It’s a different world and a different driving style but so far we’ve continued to improve.
“I’m also excited to continue to test and get to all these new tracks like Circuit of The Americas. I’ve been to Road America before but it will be interesting to see how it will be in a Super Trofeo car.
“It may take some time to acclimate to the car because I’m so young and still getting experience as a driver. The big picture is continuing to improve myself and broadening my skills across the board.”
Will you be driving solo or have a co-driver?
“I’m going to be driving solo. We figured that would be the best way to get me the most experience, the most track time and all of the above.”
What are your goals for 2017?
“I think any driver wants to win. But I’d love to improve on pace throughout the year and be fighting for wins in class, and also seeing what I could learn from guys like Trent and Madison.
“Those are the guys that are a few years ahead who are making the right steps. They’ve shown that they have pace and are good in the cars.
“It’s about broadening my horizons on the skill-sets that I need and being able to drive multiple different styles of cars, especially GT cars, as there is so much opportunity there. That’s a big part of it.
“The end-of-the-year goal is to definitely be fighting for wins in class and slowly improving pace and the overall results.”
Do you see your long-term career goals shifting to GT racing?
“It would be amazing to become an endurance racing driver. I think the ultimate goal would be to become a manufacturer [backed] driver.
“I think if I just keep my head level and keep humble and continue to surround myself with the best people possible and learn and absorb everything, I hope I can generate the opportunity to be in that position one day.
“For now, it’s a little bit head down on my half in focusing on being in the Super Trofeo car and learning.
“Right now it’s about learning a ton and getting up to speed. It’s baby steps when you make a transition like this.”