Marysville, Ohio (24 January 2018) – Honda employees by day, and race team members by night – or the weekend – is the best way to describe the HART racing program as they prepare to come together for the team’s first IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTD class entry in the Rolex 24 at Daytona this weekend.
First formed in 1989, HART – Honda of America Racing Team – is made up of some of the most dedicated group of individuals in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship paddock. Each team member volunteers their time to combine their knowledge of the Acura platform with their passion for competition.
Moving into the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was a big, but logical, jump for HART as the team moved up to the top level of IMSA competition. Having earned 16 wins in the the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge ranks, HART most recently competed with the Honda Civic Si in the ST class.
With the debut of the Acura NSX GT3 in 2017, HART changed its focus to IMSA WeatherTech competition for 2018. As one might expect from a team full of engineering-minded competitors, those preparations started a full year ago as HART team members were embedded into the Michael Shank Racing effort. It was a fruitful program, as the Acura NSX GT3 claimed two IMSA race victories.
HART is now taking the reigns as it enters the No. 69 HART Acura NSX GT3 piloted by the all-American line up of Chad Gilsinger, Ryan Eversley, Sean Rayhall and John Falb.
The four racers put HART’s Acura NSX GT3 through its first official laps around Daytona International Speedway earlier this month, clocking in nearly 200 laps of testing before setting a qualifying time of 1:47.665-seconds, which positioned the team 5th in the GTD standings for grid and garage slots.
Gilsinger, who is serving the role as both driver and engineer, worked with the Acura NSX GTD machine last year and will use that knowledge to bring success to HART this season.
“The team did an awesome job to prepare and the Roar went better than expected,” said Gilsinger, who when not racing, is busy at Honda as a Senior Engineer responsible for SH-AWD Torque Vector Tuning related to handling performance. “We didn’t really get the chance to run the car before the test, but we unloaded and the team had it ready to go. The Michael Shank Racing guys helped us get the car into a good window with the set-up and that was a big help. We’ve got a lot to work on still as far as pit stops and our driver changes, but I’m really looking forward to the 24 and getting to race the Acura NSX GT3.”
Heading into the twice around the clock event, HART has stacked its lineup of drivers with plenty of talent, all looking to bring home a Rolex watch at the conclusion of 24 hours of racing.
Gilsinger will be joined by Eversley, who has previously raced for HART in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge ST class in 2016 and won at VIR. Eversley also has a strong record with the Acura NSX GT3 in Pirelli World Challenge competition.
“This HART program is such a cool deal—these guys all have real jobs but they give their time and know-how and a lot of work into this, so it is awesome to be a part of it,” said Eversley. “There are more folks helping out with this GTD program than there were with the Civics—a lot of guys have stepped up to be a part of this and you could see the result of all that work at the Roar. I’ve been driving this car for a while now and have a good feel for how the Continental Tires are and I was really happy with where we were with the car at the end of the test. This is a great group of drivers—most of us have known each other a long time and we clicked great at the Roar and that is really important for a race like this.”
Falb has competed in IMSA competition for the past three race seasons, and clocked in a win at Road Atlanta last year as well as two podiums competing in the Prototype Challenge ranks.
“I was honored to be invited to race this car and I’m really excited about driving the NSX,” said Falb. “I don’t have a ton of experience in GT cars, so I am still learning how to get the most out of the car and the brakes but I made a lot of ground with that in the Roar. This was my first time meeting Chad (Gilsinger), but I’ve known and raced with Ryan (Eversley) and Sean (Rayhall) for years so I’m really happy to be a part of this lineup. It is great for such a big race to be with drivers that can communicate well and that you can trust and generally just like to be around.”
Rayhall and Falb have years of experience competing together, most recently taking the 2017 European Le Mans Champions title driving for United Autosports. The American duo will look to use their familiarity with each other’s driving styles to get their 2018 season off to a similarly strong start.
“This was the first time for me in the Acura NSX, and I was really impressed with how well sorted the car was even though it is just its second season,” said Rayhall. “The team was well prepared and the drivers are all on the same page, so that is a big plus for a race like this. It takes some getting used to driving a GT compared to a Prototype, with the ABS and everything but I’m getting more and more comfortable. Daytona is a fast track—there really is a ‘wow factor’ going in to turn one here, so it is pretty exciting and we are all eager to get out there and work to be in the right place late in this race to have a shot at something.”
HART will make its debut race in the competitive GTD field this weekend with the 56th running of the Rolex 24 set to kick off at 2:40 PM ET on Saturday, January 27th.
HART Social media information: https://twitter.com/hartracingteam
On-site media contact information: Ashley Keller: firstname.lastname@example.org
TV Schedule *all times in ET
Saturday, January 27th
2:00PM – 5:00 PM FOX
5:00PM – 10:00PM FS2
10:00PM – 11:00PM FSGO
11:00PM – 1:00AM FS1
Sunday, January 28th
1:00AM – 8:00AM FSGO
8:00AM – 10:30AM FS1
10:30AM – 1:00PM FS2
1:00PM – 3:00PM FS1