"I'm 15, so I can have a racing license, but I can't have a driver's license right now."
That's Los Angeles native Steven Aghakhani, the youngest driver ever to qualify for a Lamborghini Super Trofeo race. He'll be competing in the series at Laguna Seca this September. And yes, he's aware that most other 15-year-olds are still pootling around in economy cars in driver's ed class.
Aghakhani was fortunate enough to start his racing career young, when his father got him into go karts at age six. His father, a former drag racer and circuit racer, was instrumental in getting Aghakhani's feet wet in the racing world. "If it wasn't for my father, I don't know where I would be at this point in time," he says. "Everyone on the family line on my father's side has always been into cars, whether it's fixing cars or racing cars."
Karting led to driving street cars on track by age 10, and into a Lamborghini Gallardo Super Trofeo when he was just 12 years old. With support from team US RaceTronics, Aghakhani raced the Gallardo before upgrading to a Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo and, most recently, a Huracan Evo. After winning the SCCA Southern Regional Championship in GT-1 class and the NASA Southern Regional Championship in Super Unlimited class in that car, Aghakhani snagged the seat for this September's Super Trofeo race.
Being so much younger than most other racers, however, is not without its challenges. Aghakhani says he's had people make comments, or give him dirty looks at races. Many of his competitors, after all, are several decades older and have saved over their entire careers to be able to afford racing.
"At the start, I was really getting a lot of hate, and that really brought me down," he says. "People saying that my father was putting his child in danger, and everyone saying how I was being stuck up and I was doing terrible with the car that I had."
But he doesn't let those jabs get to him, and says his goal is to let his on-track results do the talking: "[Other drivers] can point all they want, but when they see me actually pass them and beat them, then they can really say something about that."
Aghakhani says he's grateful for the support he's received from his family, from the US RaceTronics team and his sponsors, noting that not every young racing fan has had the same opportunities he has.
"You don't really see a lot of young drivers, and that's kind of a big problem for me," he says. "I wish to see more younger drivers on the field … but money's just such a big problem in racing and you need a big budget in racing."
Though he's really just at the starting point, Aghakhani says he wants to follow his racing career for as long as possible: "We could make money off of racing, or we could do it for another 10 years and just end somewhere." His ultimate dreams, however, are even more ambitious.
"It's every race driver's dream to end up in Formula 1, but because of height problems, I sadly can't really do Formula 1," he says. He's about 6-foot, 1-inch tall. A more realistic goal? "In either prototypes or GT3 cars, sitting on a 24 Hours of Le Mans win. That's definitely a big goal that will take time."
Between now and his September race, Aghakhani has plenty of time for more practice and preparation. He's also competing in another SCCA race in July, but says that, "We're taking that race more or less as a practice."
So, when Aghakhani finally gets a license to drive on the road, what kind of car does he want?
"I'm just so used to the Lamborghini, but afor a first car is not something that I'm really feeling," he laughs. Instead, he'll look for "something that'll still put a smile on my face, but not something to really draw attention."