Velocity Racing Development has will run USF Juniors race-winner Nikita Johnson in its USF2000 squad next year.
Long-time VRD junior Johnson has has built up considerable single-seater experience despite only being 14 years old, below the minimum age set by most countries for open-wheel racing, and has already raced in USF2000 with the team.
He first began testing in Formula 4 in October 2019, when he was just 11, and he tested multiple times in December of that year. In January 2020 he signed to do F4 with VRD and, still only 11, raced in the F4-spec YACademy Winter Series.
Johnson finished sixth in the standings with a best result of fifth from six races, then continued F4 testing while also racing and winning in Legends cars. The test programme ramped up in late 2020 as Johnson began driving a USF2000 car too, and he was able to return to racing open-wheel cars in February 2021 for the second running of the YACademy series.
This time Johnson came fourth in the points, claiming his first win and three other podium finishes. In the process he became the youngest ever F4 race-winner aged 12, although it is not recognised as it was a non-FIA-certified competition.
The youngster spent the rest of 2021 continuing to race successfully in Legends cars, and also doing USF2000 testing with VRD, as his age prohibited him from more F4 racing until the start of 2022 and the YACademy WS’ return. Now 13, Johnson won the title with victory in three of the six races.
He did not have to wait until turning 14 before entering another F4 series, and he did the first two rounds of the Road to Indy’s new bottom rung USF Juniors while still 13 (with the entry fee to the season opener waived as a prize for being YACademy champion). After his birthday in May he debuted in USF2000 and over three rounds picked up a second place finish and a fastest lap. Through the rest of his USF Juniors campaign he won three races and came third in the points.
Johnson also travelled to Europe this August to do GB3 testing with Arden in Wales and to test a second-generation F4 car with PHM Racing at the Lausitzring.
“I am excited to continue my open-wheel career with Dan Mitchell and all the boys at VRD Racing,” said Johnson. “They have become like family to me and really helped me get up to speed with their driver development programme. I can’t wait to compete in a full season in USF2000 with them and see if I can assist in adding to their impressive results resume.”
VRD boss Mitchell added:“For us, 2023 started many years ago, so I am anticipating big things from him as the calendar turns.”