It was a strong weekend at the Brickyard, as the Heart of Racing (HOR) team scored back to back wins in the Pirelli GT4 America AM class as well as taking a third triumph on the weekend with a Pirelli GT4 America PRO-AM category victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS).
The HOR team also scored a third place finish in GT America powered by AWS on Friday as the SRO championship closed the year at IMS.
No. 26 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage Pirelli GT4 America AM class
Hannah Grisham and Rianna O’Meara-Hunt teamed up for the final Pirelli GT4 America event of the year to close out their rookie season together. Having won the Friday race for their first-ever victory, Grisham and O’Meara-Hunt returned on Sunday to double that win tally in an impressive run to another Pirelli GT4 America AM class victory.
“This weekend was amazing,” said O’Meara-Hunt. “Obviously a double win is exactly what you want. We came into Indy not ever been here before. First time ever and only one practice session before qualifying. So you could say that expectations weren’t as high as normal. But Hannah and I have both had a really strong qualifying, which set us up well for the race. Friday was amazing, Hannah drove it off the line and we stayed in ‘P1’.”
“Our second race was a little bit more challenging,” said O’Meara-Hunt. “The team has provided us with such a good car this weekend and so proud to be a part of the Heart of Racing. They've done an amazing job. I'm glad that we could finally bring it home for them in the last rounds of the season. Hopefully we can do it again for them next year, but being teammates with Hannah, Roman and Gray has truly been amazing. They're like family, a big thanks to them.”
Having enjoyed the podium vista at the fabled facility, the all-female lineup was able to shake off a challenging start to the second race to earn a second shower of champagne on the weekend.
“Rianna had a super strong qualifying, so we were in a great position for Sunday's race,” said Grisham. “She did a really good job avoiding the incident at the start and then was able to make up a few positions. When Rianna handed it over to me the Aston felt really good and I just kind of got in the zone and just kept chasing the gold. I’m really happy that we could not only win one Friday, but then to be able to back it up on Sunday just to prove we did it and we can do it again. I'm so happy and it's really amazing to be teammates with Rianna and a part of the Heart of Racing Team.”
No. 24 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage Pirelli GT4 America PRO-AM class
The SRO weekends are busy ones for the Heart of Racing, with campaigns in multiple championships as the team also competes in the Pirelli GT4 America ProAm championship with Gray Newell and Roman De Angelis.
Newell was first up to qualifying for the No. 24 Heart of Racing team, landing a fourth place starting position for Friday’s evening race. De Angelis set the second fastest lap time of the session on the way to securing a second place grid spot for the Aston Martin.
Newell was first to take the green flag, he was able to maintain his position through the full course caution before handing the Aston Martin over to De Angelis with just over half of the race remaining. De Angelis was able to make a pass for the lead within the first ten minutes of being behind the wheel as the duo combined for their third win of the season.
“Definitely our best weekend of the season,” said De Angelis. “Best weekend probably so far in GT4 America. There was no commotion or chaos really this weekend, which is really nice. Car was fantastic, the cooler weather suited it. I'm really happy that Mother Nature helped us there and that aspect, fantastic job by the Heart of Racing, especially with the No. 26 car winning both races in the AM class. Gray and I were able to get a win and a third place, a great way to finish off the season. I think we finished the season with four podiums and three wins, so definitely a good season.”
De Angelis made a pass for the lead as soon as the race started, but an incident in turn one forced a caution. Going back green De Angelis was able to start building a gap on the remainder of the field. With just under thirty minutes to go, Newell took over the Aston Martin and was able to hold the lead until the last ten minutes of the race when damage to the Aston Martin forced him back to take the checkered third.
“I’m so proud of our sister car,” said Newell. “Hannah and Rianna have worked so hard for this. They have had miserable, miserable luck this year. And it’s just so awesome to be able to share this win with them. That’s what this win really means to me, it's being able to do this as a family, the Heart of Racing.”
No. 25 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT America powered by AWS
Newell also competed in the GT America powered by AWS series where he scored his second pole award in the series this year, the first one being at VIRginia International Raceway.
Newell was able to maintain his pole position for the first few laps of Friday’s afternoon race on his way to third in the opening event of the weekend.
In another all green forty minute race on Sunday, Newell started from third on the grid. The first lap in turn one Newell was spun by an SRO3 car, forcing him to rejoin at the rear of the field. With no cautions to help bunch the field back up, the Washington native put his head down and started charging through the field making his way to take the checkered in fourth.
The IMS outing marks the final chapter for Heart of Racing team’s SRO program this year, while the team still has the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (October 14) and the World Endurance Championship (November 5) season finales ahead.
Pirelli GT4 America
No. 26 - Race 1 - started 1st finished 1st
No. 26 - Race 2 - started 3rd finished 1st
No. 24 - Race 1 - started 4th finished 1st
No. 24 - Race 2 - started 1st finished 3rd
GT America powered by AWS
No. 25 - Race 1 - started 1st finished 3rd
No. 25 - Race 2 - started 3rd finished 4th