Last year, much of the racing world learned about a 12-year-old boy thanks to a YouTube video. In the video, Steven Aghankhani took on well-known driver of Team GSA, Bryce Diamond. He won, topping out at 162 mph during the race. (Just this week, Aghankhani topped 174.96 mph on the track) Before long, the video was shared on popular auto blogs like Motor Authority, CarBuzz, Auto Evolution, and of course, Autofluence.
But we wanted more. I reached out to Steven and his father, Armik, and was afforded the opportunity to interview them both. The story they tell is impressive and inspiring…
At nearly 9-years-old, Steven Aghankhani– who is now 13-years-old– sat behind the wheel of his father’s 50th Anniversary Lamborghini Aventador at the Pike’s Peak Race Festival in Colorado Springs. Steven begged his father to let him get behind the wheel.
From Go Karts to Super Cars
Before that, Steven had been racing go karts. He began at age seven. “He showed incredible interest,” Armik recalls. Armik hired a private coach and rented a track in City of Torrance, Calif. so Steven could take full advantage of his skills. In a short time, Steven was driving faster than his coach. “His instructor told me to put him in a real car,” Armik states. But Armik wasn’t sure he was ready to put his son behind the wheel just yet.
That all changed after the Pike’s Peak Race Festival. Steven wouldn’t stop begging his Armik to allow him to drive a real car, and finally, Armik relented.
Armik took Steven to a Shift Sector event at Colorado Springs Airport. On the side race track, Steven climbed into the driver’s seat of a 2015 Lamborghini Aventador LP-720 and with some careful instruction from his father, stepped on the gas. Steven remembers the day well, “The first time was pretty scary,” he states of driving the car, “The more I did it though, the easier it was.”
“Easier” might be an understatement, considering Steven is now officially the youngest Lamborghini Super Trofeo GT3 driver to join the U.S. RaceTronic team as a development driver. He’s setting records in nearly every track event he competes in.
Racing in the Blood
Steven’s love for racing runs deep in the Aghankhani family. Armik’s affinity for cars started when he was just 14-years-old and his father owned a mechanic’s shop. He spent many hours helping his father with the cars. At age 20, he secured a job at a Chevrolet dealership. The dealership recognized his enthusiasm for racing and allowed him to assist with the Chevy Bow Tie racing team. “I was literally like a water boy,” Armik recalls.
His start with Chevy led to the start of an eventful and successful racing career. “I took two racing courses sponsored by Jeff Gordon, and I started competing in road courses. I did pretty well.” His racing career was cut short in 2005 though. At the time, Armik was competing in Porsche Club races, one of which ended in his being hit from the rear, which caused a major wreck that totaled the 2004 996 GT2 Armik was driving. “I was airborne and rolled the car multiple times but thank God that I had a full roll cage and safety equipment and I was able to walk away from it with just a minor injuries,” Armik recalls in an email.
He stepped away from racing for three years.
That was, until a few supportive friends coaxed him back out onto the track. A few years later, Steven was born, and the rest is history.
The McLaren Effect
Armik also has an extensive car collection, which includes the Ford GT, an array of Lamborghinis, McLarens and more, as well as a Bugatti Veyron– found on duPont REGISTRY–which used to belong to an F1 driver. Needless to say, Steven had a wide variety of cars to sample before deciding on his choice race car– the McLaren 650S.
“I love McLaren,” he states, “All of the McLarens have a racing history behind them that I love.” Steven’s taken home many titles in his 650S including multiple trophies at a number of Shift Sector events.
For road courses, Steven’s top pick is a Lamborghini. “I also love the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Stratadale for road coarse racing.” He’s currently setting numerous records in road courses, including the best lap time at Buttonwillow Raceway and Willow Spring Raceway.
For Steven, though, education remains the focus. “I balance everything to make sure school is on top. It’s more important than racing. I spend 75 percent of my time on school and 25 percent on racing.” He states he has plans to take over his father’s business, a CPA and business management consulting firm, and race part-time, but his father is leaving a career in racing open for discussion.
“He says that now, but who knows what the future holds. If he wants to continue driving as a career, he has my blessing,” Armik states, “I’m behind him 100 percent.”