Dalton Sargeant is about as fresh as a racer gets. That’s fresh as in new, by the way.
The 15-year-old high school student from Fort Lauderdale had his first two car races in the IMSA Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda events during the 12 Hours of Sebring week, and walked away with two podiums to show for it.
“It’s my first race in cars, so it’s quite exciting,” said Sargeant. “[The first race] was a bit tough for me, but I managed to have a podium finish, so I was quite excited about that.”
As you might imagine, Sargeant had spent a lot of time in karts before he first stepped into a Prototype Lites car. He was the 2011 Rotax Max Challenge United States Grand Nationals champion.
“To step into cars was a big transition, but it seems I was able to tackle it well,” he said. “The car’s quite crazy because you have so much downforce. You just have to trust in the car and know you’ll be able to take the corner super fast because the car is just planted to the ground and really stable, and you can just really get on the throttle.”
Driving the No. 4 8Star Motorsports Élan DP02-Mazda, Sargeant finished third in the first race at Sebring, then improved one position in the second race. Both races were won by Mikhail Goikhberg. It wasn’t at all bad for Sargeant’s first time, although it wasn’t a complete surprise, because he’s received coaching from 8Star coach and multi-time Daytona Prototype winner Ozz Negri and was also fast in testing.
Sargeant said he chose the Prototype Lites series because it’s a great steppingstone to move up through the series and one day drive an LMP2 or DP in the Prototype category of the TUDOR championship.
“Sports car definitely looks like the way to go right now. It has the most paid drivers; your percentage of getting paid is much higher here,” he says.
When he’s not at the track, he’s working on his schoolwork. But he also races Late Model stock cars.
“That’s quite fun,” he says. “I try to be the best driver I can in every kind of series and every kind of car. It helps me to tackle every kind of challenge I face.”
Look for Sargeant and the rest of the IMSA Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda competitors at Kansas Speedway on June 7.