Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda driver Kyle Masson took on his rookie season with his father, Dr. Robert Masson, proudly cheering him on from pit lane. In 2017, Robert Masson will be cheering his son from his own cockpit in the IMSA-sanctioned series.
The Massons began their racing career together in July of 2014, after Masson showed strong interest in the sport and spent some time convincing his parents to let him race. Together, Masson and Dr. Masson took on a three-day Formula Skip Barber racing school. Masson was in it for pure sport while Dr. Masson's initial interest in the racing school was to better understand the challenges and risk that racing presents.
“My wife and I have always been concerned with safety, and we were slow to let Kyle start racing,” Dr. Masson said. “I started with him to try to better understand and measure the risk as he went through it, and he has thoroughly impressed me upon his maturity and excellence on track. I love sharing this with him, I just need to get a little faster so I can have a better view of his battles on track.”
After their first racing school, they competed in two seasons of Skip Barber Formula series together. This past year, Masson continued in Skip Barber’s Summer series and joined Performance Tech Motorsports to compete in the Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda series. Robert Masson selected a different route to appease the racing bug while continuing his work at the NeuroSpine Institute.
“I have now completed two seasons of Skip Barber Formula Racing,” Robert Masson said. “I finished second overall in Masters in the Winter Series 2016, with several podiums. I have done two Radical USA Cup races in the SR3 at Sebring International Raceway and Circuit of the Americas. In 2016, I have five overall wins in Radical Cup and the Elan DP 02 Prototype Lites car in the PBOC Motorsports Club races at Sebring, Homestead and Barber.”
Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda will offer a new set of challenges in the car and on track for Robert Masson. But Kyle Masson is ready and willing to make conquering each race a family affair. In fact, he already knows in what capacity he’ll be most helpful to his father and notes his father’s strengths.
“My dad does an excellent job at learning tracks quickly. The help that I am going to be able to provide to him this year will be teaching him how to get to the limit of the Prototype Lites car,” Kyle Masson said. “The limit is very hard to reach in these cars compared to anything else I have driven. As I teach him about the limit of L1 we will mold his racecraft as a driver. He won't need much help learning any of the new tracks this year. A general theme I've noticed between us is that we both can get to our limits on any track within the first or second sessions. So, what I'm going to do is help him raise his limit.”
Masson looks forward to being back on track with his father, their only goal is to help each other become better drivers. For Masson, his father has always been there to help him grow in the sport and he has thoroughly enjoyed racing against and with his dad.
“We've worked together from day one,” Kyle Masson said. “We both started at the same three-day Skip Barber racing school and did two seasons together in Skip Barber. We have been in many races and a couple of endurance events together. A highlight of us racing together is from the 90-minute PBOC enduro. We won in the rain at Sebring Winterfest ahead of 68 cars last January. Those are really exciting moments we get to share together.”
In the same respect, Robert Masson’s enjoyment and reasoning behind continuing to race parallels the relationship building aspect racing brings.
“When Kyle was a young child, I was a young neurosurgeon and spent many days and nights at the hospital,” Robert Masson said. “When we started this racing journey together just over two years ago it really gave us a lot of quality time together, traveling to the schools and ultimately sharing race tracks all over the United States. For me, it was a priceless opportunity to expand and strengthen our relationship.
“Watching Kyle throughout his 2016 rookie season in the Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda with Performance Tech was fantastic. I learned so much and gradually started building the confidence to try the car myself. I credit (Team Principal) Brent O’Neill with giving me the foundation and confidence to test and ultimately commit to compete in the series. We are very happy being a part of Brent's team and want to make him proud.”
Team Principal Brent O’Neill looks forward to watching the father, son duo grow together on track just as much as he has enjoyed having them at track.
“They’re really a cool family to know,” O’Neill said. “They’re just great people. Kyle comes to WeatherTech Championship races he’s not even racing at because he’s a part of the team. The whole family comes out to cheer on Kyle and the rest of the team. They’re part of the family now. I think it’ll be great to watch them work together and motivate each other. I know Robert will do really well this year. It’ll just be a matter of getting use to the car, and I think Kyle could win the championship this year.”
The Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda series starts March 15-18, 2017 at Sebring International Raceway with Rounds 1 and 2 during the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida endurance weekend.