Rolex 24 At Daytona Winner Masson Clinches Two IMSA Series Championships
Wednesday, September 20, 2017

It's 4:30 a.m., a miserable 38 degrees outside and a steady, chilly rain is coming down in sheets. Kyle Masson is driving in his open-cockpit Prototype Challenge (PC) at Daytona International Speedway, competing in North America's most prestigious sports car race - the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

This was Masson's toughest racing moment to date, but following these grueling race conditions, Masson and his three Performance Tech Motorsports co-drivers won the PC class victory in the 24-hour race.

Fast forward to September, Masson has clinched both WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda series, but the young driver isn't focusing on winning. Instead, he's already focusing on next year and his goals to become a pro driver.

"It feels really good to win two championships this year, but I know personally, I need to keep improving as a driver to get to the pro level," Masson said. "These two championships are a step in the right direction, but I need to focus on next year. I like winning championships, but I hate losing more than I like winning."

Masson, 20, is juggling driving two different cars in two different series, plus business school at the University of Central Florida. Although competing in two different cars each weekend can be difficult, Masson says he doesn't necessarily think one car is easier to drive over the other, as both cars have different driving styles.

"The WeatherTech prototype (challenge) car is a lot heavier - it has a lot of downforce, but it's trying to balance and optimize the rolling speed with getting to power early that's challenging," Masson said. "That car is more of a point and shoot kind of deal than the (Mazda) Prototype Challenge car. The Mazda PC car is really light, and it has a lot of downforce. The car rolls a lot of speed around the corners - you really have to maintain speed."

Masson grew up knowing he wanted to race. Although cars and motorsports were a passion of his, he didn't get out to the race track and drive a car until he was 17 years old.

His parents gifted him with a three-day Skip Barber Driving School certificate for his 17th birthday, and he immediately fell in love. In 2016, Masson connected with Performance Tech's Brent O'Neill and joined the Prototype Challenge series. Then in 2017, he teamed up with Performance Tech to join their WeatherTech series team.

"We've had a remarkable year," Masson said. "It's been huge learning curves. Brent has done a fantastic job of putting us all together, and we just click and get along really well."

The No. 38 Performance Tech ORECA FLM09 team is the youngest team in the WeatherTech series with drivers James French, 25, Patricio O'Ward, 18 Masson, 20.

Said Masson: "Our team has a unique environment. Everyone gets along so well, and we love competing with each other. We push each other to get better, and we're really good friends. I trust my teammates 100 percent.

"I would put the car in their hands any day in any situation. That's where I feel that my teammates and I have the edge on the competition right now - we work as a team, and we listen to each other's feedback."

Masson's team has won three of the four races in the Tequila PatrĂ³n North American Endurance Cup in the PC class, so the pressure is off there - the young team has already won that title. But, if Performance Tech can snag that last win at the season finale at Road Atlanta next month, they will have a perfect season.

"I'm looking forward to winning all four races in the WeatherTech Patron Endurance races," Masson said. "That would be a huge accomplishment to win all four endurances races and also clinch the championship."

Masson is committed to using these prestigious championship wins to continue improving for next year. His end goal is to become a factory driver - specifically in the sports car world, as he admires the high safety level of sports cars.

"There's a lot of aspects of the business environment that can help me in the racing industry," Masson said. "I'm taking marketing and other courses to help me as a race car driver and build my own brand. Business will definitely help me in the long run."
The young driver is not only ambitious in the racing world, he's also majoring in finance at the University of Central Florida, about an hour from his hometown of Windermere, Florida.

"It's been relatively lucky that both of the series run on the same weekends, so there's no extra travel and time commitments. It's been very beneficial for me from a time management stand point."

Masson continues to be a team player as he looks toward what the 2018 season will bring.

"It's always about the team - our environment is amazing. Performance Tech has put so much time and effort into developing me as a driver and growing the team. A lot of things had to click this year, and everything worked out perfectly and happened for a reason."