USF Pro Championships talent watch: Jimmie Lockhart

Most young racers can point to the one thing that introduced them to racing. For some, it was a friend’s birthday party at a local karting track; for others, it was a parent-child excursion that turned into an obsession. But for USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires rookie Jimmie Lockhart, who currently lies fifth in the 2023 point standings ahead of this weekend’s tripleheader finale at Austin’s Circuit of The Americas, the catalyst was slightly more unusual.

“My family first got into racing because we would always go to the NASCAR races in Daytona and Homestead,” Lockhart explains. “My dad is a yacht captain, and at the time he was the captain of the yacht owned by Brian France (the former CEO and chairman of NASCAR), so we would always get pit passes. That’s where the love for racing came into my family.”

With the racing bug firmly entrenched, the young Lockhart embarked on his own racing journey, starting at the K1 Speed indoor karting center near the family’s home in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.


At the age of seven, Lockhart and his father, Billy, headed to the karting center at Homestead-Miami Speedway to begin the next steps.

“I would do some local kart racing at Homestead and then, when I was about eight-years old, we started racing all over the U.S.,” recalls Lockhart. “We raced nationally for about four years.”

After winning several championship titles, Lockhart decided to make the move to race cars. He connected with Dan Mitchell of VRD Racing and joined the team to contest the 2021 YACademy Winter Series at Homestead, where he finished fifth. He then spent much of the year testing in preparation for the 2022 season, but the family stepped away from racing for a season due to funding issues.

Lockhart remained committed to his training regimen in anticipation of a return in 2023, and when VRD Racing joined the USF Juniors series, it was a chance for him to step on to the vaunted USF Pro Championships Presented by Cooper Tires driver development ladder.

“USF Juniors is the start of the ladder to get into IndyCar, so we thought it was a great place for me to start with a team that I knew very well,” he says. “VRD won the 2022 USF Juniors team championship, so I was ready to get to work both on and off track.”

While contesting the full slate of USF Juniors races, Lockhart also added an F4 US Championship Powered by Honda event at NOLA, near New Orleans, La., with his VRD team. The 16-year old had planned to spend the weekend logging laps, but instead captured a pole position and victories in two of the three races.

Brimming with confidence, Lockhart headed to Sebring for his USF Juniors debut, earning top 10s in all three races, including a podium in race three. He added a third-place finish at Barber Motorsports Park to make it two podiums in the first five races and top 10s in 11 of the 13 races to date.

The highlight so far? That podium in front of the NTT IndyCar Series crowd at Barber.

“It’s been great having the opportunity to get back in the car after a year off,” says Lockhart. “Just being with the team and getting the opportunity to continue what I love to do and race a full season this year. But getting that podium during the IndyCar weekend at Barber was probably my favorite race this year.”

As Lockhart continues to prove himself on the USF Pro Championships ladder, he hopes to maintain his momentum into 2024.

“The biggest challenge so far has been just learning and improving as fast as possible, given the small amount of standalone testing that we’ve done – and being able to compete against people with multiple years of experience in racing. We’re doing everything we can to continue racing, but that has a lot to do with what happens when this season ends as we look for sponsorship backing.”

Lockhart is currently backed by Yacht Next, a company owned by his mother Joanne that specializes in high-end yacht interior design. Joanne is English and father Billy American, giving Lockhart dual British and U.S. citizenship. With both parents involved in yachting, does the young Lockhart have any interest in a different form of racing?

“I did some sailing as a kid, but not for very long,” he says. “My dad is still a full-time yacht captain on private super yachts and he travels all over the world, so that’s the only sailing background in our family.”

Catch Jimmie on Instagram and Facebook, and for the latest news and results from USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires, click here.

Story originally appeared on Racer