DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. – Performance Tech Motorsports has added Blake Mount to its IMSA Prototype Challenge lineup next season as the series switches to an LMP3-only field.
Mount, who recently tested with the team at Sebring Int’l Raceway, joins the IMSA sports car series after spending much of his focus on a career in open wheel. Mount last ran in the Formula Atlantic Championship where he finished second overall in the points championship.
As Mount began looking at racing as a career, he realized the open-wheel system might not afford him his best chance at making a dream a reality.
“There are more opportunities in sports cars,” Mount said. “Unless you just won the lottery it’s hard to get to the top in open wheel. Before this opportunity arose, I was looking at moving to New Zealand to compete in an F3 series. Just as fun and experience new things in sportscars.”
Making the switch from open wheel to sports cars comes on a steep learning curve. The LMP3 car holds many differences when compared to a formula car. To the eye, there is the apparent difference of enclosed and open cockpit as well as wheels under or outside of the body of the car. Beyond the obvious lays the behavior of the car and arguably the most significant difference.
“In comparison, a formula car feels like an entirely another breed,” Mount said. “You feel more connected to a formula car; you can see around you and feel what the car is doing. With the P3 car, you experience this power when you’re in the cockpit, and it feels rawer. It’s crazy honestly.
“The first time I tested with Performance Tech I was in the Ginetta LMP2 car. I’m used to a lot of visibility in a formula car, but you can’t see as much in a prototype. You feel a lot safer inside the cockpit, but I also can’t see behind me, it’s a very weird feeling. It is different, and it’s intimidating, but at this point, it is a challenge I’m willing to take on.”
At the Sebring test with Performance Tech Mount tested the P3 car he intends to race next season. Mount focused on feeling out every difference and understanding the car to work on his speed. Having sought out to conquer each distinction Mount was not just chasing lap times he was building racecraft.
“It was a productive test,” Mount said. “After a test like this I know that next time I’m in the car, I’m that much faster. In the beginning, I struggled with having no traction control but having power steering. I had to get used to that. You have to learn to catch the wheel when you power down knowing nothing else is stopping that car. You have to be ready. Nothing I’ve driven yet has as much power as the P3. I’m more experienced, and I’m happy to get back in the car.
“The setup on the car was perfect. I don’t think I would have made changes if it wasn’t, I wanted to baseline myself to the car’s abilities. I wasn’t trying to lay down any lap times until the end. I just was there to learn. I was listening to the car. I wanted to feel the car under heavy loads. I was braking in Turn 7 at Sebring as deep as I could. I’d feel the car wiggle in the back, which is different than my formula car. I wanted to take the car to the limit.”
Mount feels prepared to run in IMSA Prototype Challenge and prepared to run with Performance Tech Motorsports. His driving coach, Rafa Matos, introduced Mount to the team. Matos has joined the Performance Tech driver lineup in years past and has used Performance Tech as a stepping stone to the next level for many clients. His background in both open wheel and sports car racing allowed him to show career-minded Mount the various directions a racing career can go.
“The team came up in a conversation with Rafa,” Mount said. “So, we started looking into LMP3 in 2018. We talked to a couple of other teams. The vibes via email and conversations with Brent is why I chose Performance Tech. It felt more genuine and more authentic. It felt like he was invested in me like I was part of the family. I could tell he was interested in helping me pursue a career.
“The team has this great balance between fun and work. I guess they work while having fun. It’s about enjoying what you’re doing. I felt everyone was genuine. Charles Wicht and I were starting chatting and were cracking jokes after five minutes. I’m privy to it because I can tell the progress and success comes first, but it doesn’t have to be serious business all the time.”
Looking ahead, Mount is already thinking of what he plans to achieve throughout the race season. Opposed to focusing solely on the sport of racing, Mount is focused on the business side as well.
“Realistically I want to focus on furthering myself as a driver,” Mount said. “It’s not all about getting on track, going fast and winning championships. You have to think of the business side of things and market yourself. You have to be personable, be someone people want to work with and want to have representing them. I want to do my best to be in the fight and win a championship. I want a successful season in LMP3. I want to improve myself as a driver. To do that I will focus on my abilities on and off the track and if a championship comes with it then great.
“I’m thankful for Brent and for the opportunity to race with his team. For him being transparent with me. And thanks to all the guys that helped with the test. Mike, Austin and everyone else I know those are hard days too. I’m thankful for my parents and their support. Hopefully, come Daytona I will be thankful for a sponsor. We’ll get there.”