Rising USA star Nikita Johnson joins GB3 with VRD Racing by Arden

Rising USA star Nikita Johnson joins GB3 with VRD Racing by Arden

21 February 2024

Nikita Johnson will make his European racing debut in the GB3 Championship this year after extending his relationship with VRD Racing. 

The 15-year-old was the 2023 USF2000 vice champion with the team, claiming eight podiums including a season-opening victory in his hometown St Petersburg, Florida.

While finishing his USF2000 campaign, the Florida resident also made an instant impression across the final five races in the top-tier USF Pro 2000 Championship with a historic win at the Circuit of the Americas and another win at Portland. Nikita added to his two wins with two further podium finishes for a 100% podium record in the four races he finished. With the COTA win, he became the youngest race-winner in the series’ history and the only driver to win at all three levels of the USF Pro Championships. In addition to GB3, Nikita will also race in the USF Pro 2000 series this year as part of a dual programme in the USA and the UK/Europe. 

Johnson won the YACademy Winter Series title in 2022 with three wins from six races and two additional podium finishes. He added to this successful winter campaign with third place in the USF Juniors Championship with three victories and seven further podiums. At the end of the year, he made his debut in USF2000 with VRD at Road America and placed second at Portland.

His association with the team commenced with a F4 testing programme in 2019, when aged only 11, and he entered the YACademy Winter Series for the first time in 2020. With a victory in the series at the start of 2021, he became the youngest-ever winner of a race for contemporary F4 machinery at just 12-years-old. 

In addition to his success in single-seaters, he was crowned the 2021 Legends Road Course World Champion and finished third in the Legends Asphalt Oval USA National Championship. In 2020, Nikita was vice champion in Legends Dirt USA Nationals. 

Prior to racing Legends cars, he’d enjoyed a glittering karting career, with titles in the National, Midwest and Florida Micro-ROK Championships in 2016. He was the winner of the Florida Winter Tour Mini-ROK Ocala Gran Prix in the following season, and raced in WSK in Europe for two seasons. In 2018, he won the Ocala Grand Prix Junior Championship and a paid university scholarship before moving into car racing. 

He’s now gearing up for his first venture into European competition having first sampled GB3 machinery over a year ago in Barcelona. He’s slated to make his series race debut at Spa-Francorchamps in June, once he has turned 16, and completes VRD Racing by Arden’s all-American line-up. The team expects to run an additional driver in Johnson’s car for the first two events of the season at Oulton Park and Silverstone. 

Nikita Johnson said: “I look forward to racing with VRD and Arden in the GB3 Championship which provides the opportunity to compete on four Formula One tracks at Spa, Silverstone, Zandvoort, and the Hungaroring. Although the GB3 and USF Pro 2000 cars are very similar, the schedule is very demanding because both series have me racing on different continents every week. But, that’s okay as I like to push myself. I would like to thank my family, Dan, VRD and Arden for their unwavering support.”

VRD Racing Team Principal Dan Mitchell said: “We’re really excited to bring Nikita over to the UK to enter GB3 this year. He has a habit of making instant impressions in every series he races in, so I’m sure he will get up to speed very quickly. His record speaks for itself and hopefully he can challenge the front-runners before too long.” 

Arden Team Principal Garry Horner said: “Nikita Johnson is a very exciting young talent and I am sure he will do well in the championship in spite of missing the first two rounds due to his age. The level of commitment and skill that he has shown reminds us very much of Oscar Piastri who drove for us in his first car racing year, so we look forward to a very interesting season with this young talented driver.”