Kirt Wightman, native of Tampa FL, began his racing career in 1982 in SCCA club competition. He was fortunate enough to explore involvement and racing diversity from Sports 2000, GT cars, historics, TransAm, endurance and a full season in Europe with Chamberlain Engineering in “Group C”. His skills as a fabricator, race engineer and driver culminate in 1990 with his first fully sponsored race program – Cheverolet Camaro 1LE’s for the IMSA Firestone Firehawk series. Also in 1990, Kirt secured his greatest “deal”- marriage to Trish Abood from Jacksonville.
For a decade Kirt operated under the business name of Wightman Fabrication in Tampa. Though projects were too numerous to elaborate, highlights would include engineering and fabrication endeavors with Steve Saleen and Mustang racecars, the Archer Brothers in Ford TransAm racecars, Dave White Racing and various Porsche racecar projects.
In 1998, Kirt was contracted to assist in the construction of Downing Atlanta’s new 4-rotor Mazda LMP prototype. This preceeded a move for Kirt and family to Atlanta to become team manager for Jim Downing and this latest program.
After a successful season with Jim, Kirt was recruited by an old friend and Firehawk competitor Jeff Purner to assist in his new project, the Panoz Women’s Global GT Series. Jeff had recently become director of the Panoz Racing School @ Road Atlanta. Kirt signed up as the Racing School’s Operations Manager, and for the next few years oversaw the Racing Series’ logistics as well as the opening of new Panoz School programs in Sebring FL, Texas Motor Speedway, and Mosport Canada.
2003 presented an opportunity for Kirt to pursue a career-long goal; an association with the manufacturer Lotus Cars. By means of a mutual friends’ introduction, Kirt met Arnie Johnson, CEO of Lotus Cars USA. Lotus was on the verge of bringing its Elise sportscar to the US market, and Arnie understood of the importance of a supporting motorsports program. He offered Kirt the interim position of Dealer Manager until such time as the Elise programs could be implemented.
Unfortunately, this was not to happen as envisioned by Kirt and Arnie, as parent company Lotus UK decided to change management structure and marketing direction. Shortly thereafter, Kirt left Lotus to become independent once again. However, this apparent setback allowed the partnership with Hyper Sport to begin, and opportunities with Lotus have reached greater proportions than previously possible.