Hannah Grisham (USA) and Rianna O’Meara-Hunt (NZ) will co-drive an Aston Martin Vantage GT4 in 2023 SRO SprintX Series, Rhule (USA) earns testing opportunity
Phoenix, Az. (21 November 2022) – After selecting nine racers from over 100 female applicants to participate in a two-day shootout, The Heart of Racing has announced that two promising racers will join the team starting in 2023.
Hannah Grisham (USA) and Rianna O’Meara-Hunt (NZ) emerged from the talented group as the top picks following the dynamic shootout, which was held at the APEX Motor Club in Phoenix, Arizona. In addition, 17-year old Annie Rhule (USA) has been selected for a testing program with the team as they continue to track her progress towards the future.
Grisham and O’Meara-Hunt will compete in the 2023 SRO GT4 America SprintX championship, sharing the driving duties onboard an Aston Martin Vantage GT4 with a race schedule that features outings at Sonoma Raceway, Circuit of the Americas, VIRginia International Raceway, Road America and Sebring International Raceway.
A selection of nine female racers from around the globe participated in The Heart of Racing’s two-day shootout. With The Heart of Racing team members Ian James, Paul Charlsley, Alex Riberas, Roman De Angelis and Ashton Harrison rallying together to test and observe the candidates abilities both on and off the track.
The event included significant track time behind the wheel of the Aston Martins, allowing the drivers to become acquainted with the GT4 machines as well as learning how to make the most of the Pirelli tires through multiple heat cycles. The on-track sessions also included mock qualifying runs as well as race simulations, giving the drivers the chance to demonstrate their approaches to the different scenarios.
“All of the drivers did an incredible job in the car, which made our decision that much more difficult,” said James. “It was important for us to see growth over the two days, someone who was willing to take in the feedback and apply it on the track – and all of the drivers did this exceptionally well.
“Both Hannah and Rianna were very open to learning, they reached out for help and feedback and were focused on the task at hand,” continued James. “We had originally intended to bring one driver on, but it was clear after reviewing everyones performance through the event, that pairing these two in SprintX was the best solution and we are pretty excited to be able to offer both of them this opportunity to race together.”
Grisham is a part of the Shift Up Now program and races in the World Racing League, collecting several race wins and championships in her racing career. Grisham is eager to take on this new opportunity to advance to the next level of motorsports.
“Getting this opportunity means everything to me,” said Grisham. “The whole team has been amazing and they truly care about what they stand for. It really just feels like a big family and I’m excited for that. I think this opportunity is a great new step for me to enter a competitive series that will push me.”
Grisham is no stranger to sharing the race seat with another female and thinks it will be a seamless transition working with O’Meara-Hunt.
“All of the girls were really great and we all had a lot of fun in Arizona,” continued Grisham. “I was able to spend some time with Rianna following the shootout, and we got along great. I’m just excited to share this opportunity with her.”
O’Meara-Hunt will be making her North American racing debut with The Heart of Racing next year having competed in the New Zealand Toyota 86 Championship earlier this year. After claiming several major national karting championships, O’Meara-Hunt will now be looking to add to those accomplishments onboard the Aston Martin GT4.
“To be selected for this drive next year is a dream come true, I am speechless but also so proud of the achievement,” said O’Meara-Hunt. “Myself and a great number of supporters back home in NZ had put in a lot of hard work before the test to prepare and it is awesome that it has all payed off. I am happy not only for myself, but also for all the people that really got in behind me.
“Through my karting career I made sure to have people around me who felt like family, so to now be apart of and drive for The Heart of Racing family is such a privilege – this is exactly the way they operate – it’s a perfect fit!” continued O’Meara-Hunt. “I am very excited to be able to drive alongside Hannah, I felt we jelled really well at the test. With the experience of The Heart of Racing, we will have the right tools and team behind us to perform – the rest is up to us!”
Grisham and O’Meara-Hunt will compete in the SRO SprintX Championship with the first race of the season taking place at Sonoma Raceway March 31-April 2.
With the talented field of racers arriving at the event with a wide range of experience levels, the shootout provided the drivers the opportunity to learn, evaluate data, develop, and push themselves with the support of the team and coaches. The performances were remarkable across the board, and included a very strong effort from Annie Rhule, a 17-year old American karter.
Her trajectory during the event showed enough promise that The Heart of Racing has elected to provide the Pittsburgh native with a testing program this season so that the team can continue to review her growth behind the wheel of a sports car.