VRD Academy selects Kai Johnson
 January 19, 2024| 
  • Team News
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VRD leads the way in driver development

Velocity Racing Development (VRD) launched the VRD Academy in 2020 with Nikita Johnson as their first driver to develop drivers looking to jump from karts to cars. VRD continues to push to develop America’s next F1 star. VRD Racing is pleased to announce that Kai Johnson, Nikita Johnson's younger brother, will join the VRD Academy program.

Johnson will participate in selected team test days in 2024 alongside USF Juniors VRD team drivers. Kai tested with VRD last month and will participate in a select test program in 2024 before stepping into the 2025 YACademy winter series with VRD.

“We take driver development very seriously,” said team principal Dan Mitchell. “Kai has been a front-runner in the karting ranks and has competed in Legends cars on dirt ovals, asphalt ovals and on road courses, which has only accelerated his learning. In December, Kai tested with VRD in a YACademy test in Homestead and was immediately at the front. He showed maturity beyond his years, learned quickly and showed great speed. He is very coachable, and we are very much anticipating a successful year with him as we help him develop his skillset and future growth. I am confident that Kai will be a future open-wheel champion.”

Now in its fourth year, the VRD Academy has successfully trained multiple drivers who have moved up the USF Pro Championships and Formula ladders. In recent years, VRD Academy drivers such as Hunter Yeany, Nikita Johnson, Max Garcia and 2023 USF Juniors multiple race winner Jimmie Lockhart have won.

VRD Academy drivers will take part in all team test days, driver development programs, knowledge-building sessions and evaluations before making the move to open-wheel racing. The VRD Academy is a vital part of VRD’s USF Junior program, which provides drivers with valuable seat time testing at Atlanta Motorsports Park (AMP), YACademy test days and important race experience in the YACademy Winter Series before they step into the USF PRO championships.

VRD's USF Junior program is headed up by star racer Jacob Loomis, who, by Mitchell's own admission, thinks “Jacob is a key asset to our team. His loyalty and hard work have been rewarded with a senior partnership role in leading our USF Junior program.”

“The strength of our Academy program and the ability to successfully train kart racers to become race car drivers continues to be the basis behind the VRD Academy,” explained Mitchell. “We have had several new drivers test with us in the past month, a few who are ready to make the move to cars and others who need more of a test program, but the VRD Academy will help fast-track their experience as they gain information and knowledge from our championship caliber team.

“The VRD ladder is growing with the recently announced 2024 USF Pro 2000 season entry and our second year in the GB3 program in conjunction with Arden over in the UK. VRD is the only team to compete in both championships, which provide our drivers with multiple career paths.”

Coming off the back of a two-day test at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, where four drivers were behind the wheel of Velocity Racing Development-prepared cars, the 2024 season is looking bright for VRD and the VRD Academy.

“Our final test of 2024 was a success, and we are looking forward to the success of both our VRD Team and VRD Academy Drivers early in 2024,” added Mitchell.

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