American open-wheel and sports car ace Sean Rayhall announced his retirement from professional motorsports at the end of last season.
Now 24, the Georgia native has turned his attention to buying and flipping houses, performing renovations, and pursuing his real estate license. He’s also realized that after spending most of his young life behind the wheel of a race car, there’s a lingering need for automotive competition, and he’ll satisfy that yearning to drive by hitting the dirt.
“I’m a kid who grew up ripping sheetrock out of walls doing construction when I wasn’t racing, and I quote ‘retired’ from pro racing, because it just didn’t fit my ideals anymore,” he told RACER. “It doesn’t mean I stopped wanting to race, though. I just wanted to work on developing my own businesses and find something in racing that brought me back to the same passion I had as a kid, and that’s eventually going to be racing sprint cars.”
Rayhall made his name on the Mazda Road To Indy where he won a pair of Indy Lights races and added a win in the European Le Mans Series while competing on both sides of the Atlantic. As a driver-for-hire, Rayhall drove for DeltaWing and United Autosports, among other teams, and often as the co-driver/coach to a successful businessperson seeking to compete in the pro ranks.
In an odd turn, Rayhall will trade swap roles, seeking to learn about the art of dirt racing from old family friends while business, in place of driving, serves as his top priority.
“We’ll do 15-20 races in Ohio,” he said. “And it’s all thanks to Tim Michael, TJ Michael, and the Michael Racing Group. They’ve been close with me forever. There’s a small chance we might do more races, and we’re going to focus heavily on testing the first year. I work all week, and then we’ll drive up and come back Sunday. I’m going to the track for trophies, not for business, and that’s making me feel really good about this.”
At the peak of his brief professional career, Rayhall was asked to test for the Chip Ganassi Racing IndyCar Series team. Based on the enthusiasm in his voice, returning to the only sport he’s known, in some of the wildest machines ever devised, for the sake of personal enjoyment, is a perfect fit for where he’s at in his life.
“I’ve always had a love for sprint cars and dirt racing,” Rayhall said. “I’ve been successful in short track stock cars, been successful in open-wheel cars and endurance racing. Going dirt racing, I have a lot to figure out. If things go well, maybe we can do Knoxville later in the year. And maybe we could aim for the World Of Outlaws in a few years. There’s no expectations for this, and we’ll see where it goes.”