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Meet the 51-year-old Tampa resident racing in the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

Alan Brynjolfsson got into racing after his four kids grew up and will be competing this weekend.
Tampa's Alan Brynjolfsson (fourth from the right, in black) celebrates his win at Virginia in last year's Pirelli World Challenge. He'll be participating in this weekend's Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. (Courtesy Alan Brynjolfsson)
Tampa's Alan Brynjolfsson (fourth from the right, in black) celebrates his win at Virginia in last year's Pirelli World Challenge. He'll be participating in this weekend's Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. (Courtesy Alan Brynjolfsson)
Published Mar. 6, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG — After years of hard work transforming VOLT Lighting from a one-man start-up company into a successful industry disruptor, Tampa resident Alan Brynjolfsson didn’t know what to do.

He had been singularly focused on one objective, and now that only objective was met.

“OK, I did it. Now what?” Brynjolfsson said. “I needed a new goal to kind of focus my energy on.”

So at age 46, he found the new focus that will take him to this weekend’s Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Racing.

Brynjolfsson loved the sport as a child and terrified his friends after he got his license. He dreamed of seriously getting into racing someday, but as the years ticked by, someday never seemed to get any closer.

“When you own a business and are the father of four kids, life gets in the way,” Brynjolfsson said.

It wasn’t until a friend told Brynjolfsson about open track days at Sebring International Raceway a few years ago that Brynjolfsson decided to try it. After one day of speeding his Ferrari 165 mph down the backstretch, the instructors stopped riding with him.

It was too dangerous for a street car.

Brynjolfsson hired a racing coach, upgraded to safer equipment and started competing in Porsche club events. Six months and a few track records later, he began racing professionally.

Tampa's Alan Brynjolfsson will be racing in this weekend's Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. (Courtesy Alan Brynjolfsson)
Tampa's Alan Brynjolfsson will be racing in this weekend's Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. (Courtesy Alan Brynjolfsson)

Now 51, Brynjolfsson was Pirelli World Challenge’s top rookie last year with three podium-finishes in four starts. He started this season by winning the second Pirelli GT4 SprintX race Sunday at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

And Brynjolfsson plans to be a season-long championship contender in the series, now that he finally has the time to devote to racing. His children are old enough to drive themselves around, and he built the necessary infrastructure at VOLT to delegate himself out of his day job (although he remains involved in his company as more of a chair-of-the-board than a CEO).

“I wouldn’t want to not work, because then, like, no purpose,” Brynjolfsson said. “But I’m not anchored down, being forced to dredge to work every day.”

Instead, he can spend half the year traveling the country racing sports cars, thanks in part to his company’s financial backing.

Although his road to St. Petersburg’s 1.8-mile, 14-turn street course isn’t traditional, Brynjolfsson has shown that he belongs. During the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January, he raced door-to-door against established professionals and held his own — as a 51-year-old father who’s still learning the sport.

“I know if I’d started when I was a younger kid, I could be doing what they’re doing, but I wouldn’t change a thing,” Brynjolfsson said. “I’ve got a perfect life. But I know that (racing) was always my destiny.”

Contact Matt Baker at mbaker@tampabay.com. Follow @MBakerTBTimes.

Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

March 8-10, downtown streets. Race is 1:40 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets: $20 (Friday general admission) to $135 (all three days, adult, upper rows). Paddock passes extra. See gpstpete.com or call 1-888-476-4479.

TV: NBCSN

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