Comprent Motor Sports turning back time on Prototype Lites Racing
There is a youth movement sweeping the IMSA racing paddock in 2013 with the return of driving phenom Sean Rayhall who enters the exciting and fiercely competitive Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda Series, in the 61st Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida, March 13-16.
Driving for Athens, Georgia-based Comprent Motor Sports Rayhall enters the series with a string of impressive stats, designed to make any seasoned veteran stop and take a second look. As the youngest driver ever to win an open-wheel race at the age of 12, Rayhall seems destined for stardom.
A self-proclaimed “born racer,” Rayhall first became hooked on the sport when his dad, an amateur racer himself, bought him a go-kart. From there the accolades began piling up. He was the youngest to win at the Skip Barber Nationals at 12 years old and has run over 159 races, with 65 wins, 104 podiums, 43 pole awards and 62 fastest laps.
Not bad for a kid who will be turning 18 in just a few days.
Supported by a team that holds a reputation for showcasing quality drivers in a series that is known for providing opportunities to those with aspirations to elevate their career to the uppermost echelons of sports car racing, Rayhall is sitting pretty leading into the series opener next week.
Paired up with returning veteran teammates Lamont Harris and Darryl Shoff, the Comprent line-up promises to add to the team’s successes amassed since its inception in 1987. They have won multiple SCCA National Championships, featured strong entries in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona as well as the 12 Hours of Sebring, and more importantly for Rayhall, won the IMSA Lites Championship in 2008.
Team owner Kevin Kloepfer has been an avid participant in the series since its inception.
“I thought it was a great concept for the cost, and great spec series with a good car,” said Kloepfer. “There was never a good prototype feeder series until the creation of IMSA Lites, and it’s a great fit for us.”
Operations like Kloepfer’s act as ‘prep shops’ for racers around the country, providing preparation, setup, training and assistance. The concept has always been a vital thread in the fabric of auto racing, giving hobbyists and professionals an easier path of entry into the sport by having a team of experts handle management of the car.
It was this path that led young Rayhall to Kloepfer in the first place. While being guided by driver coach Andrew Davis, Rayhall went testing with Comprent during his SCCA Pro Racing days, and the rest is history.
“His equipment is excellent and he is on the top of his game,” says Rayhall of Kloepfer. “Comprent is a very professional organization with a great group of people.”
A self-professed gym rat, Rayhall would have taken the path of a fitness trainer had he not had the “drive” for motorsports.
“You can never be overly physically prepared,” he said.
And he takes his training very seriously, working out with pedigreed fellow racer Anthony Lazzaro who assists him with a program of exercises and extensive cardio work to get him prepared for the rigors of on-track performance.
But Rayhall is not sweating his return to Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda racing next weekend. His series debut in 2011 at Road Atlanta for Petit Le Mans, under the guidance of Comprent Motor Sports, saw him take both race wins in his very first effort.
“I don’t remember a specific moment when I knew this is what I wanted to do,” Rayhall joked. “I just know I was born to do it.”
Twenty-one Élan DP-02 chassis will begin their hustle around the 3.74-mile historic circuit at Sebring on March 13, with qualifying and Race 1 featured on March 14. The series will culminate at Sebring with Race 2 on March 15 as a lead into the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón feature that begins on March 16.
For more information and race results, following along on Twitter at @IMSALites or Facebook at www.facebook.com/PrototypeLites.