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HINDMAN: Sweeping Success

Trent Hindman files his first Sportscar365 column of year after a sweep of GTWC America weekend at COTA…

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

At the time that I’m writing this, it is difficult to believe that so much of the excitement, hype, anticipation, etc. for such an epic year in the motor racing world would be undone in a matter of hours.

The feeling of current and upcoming events being canceled, generally not knowing what the future has in store, and questioning when the next time any of us will be driving again pretty much takes the wind out of my sails, and I’m sure it effects all of you, too.

With that said, I think an astounding number of us within the motor racing community agree, though far from ideal, the steps taken by each sanctioning body to protect drivers, team members, and fans needs to be applauded.

Luckily before the chaos ensued, we were fortunate enough to get our first GT World Challenge America powered by AWS event of the year at Circuit of The Americas completed.

As of mid-February, I had absolutely zero idea that I’d be competing in SRO America competition, so suffice to say that when I got the final word to book my flights to COTA, I was pretty jacked.

Especially considering the entire scenario…

Photo: Regis Lefebure/SRO

I’d be driving an Acura NSX GT3 Evo, prepped by Racer’s Edge Motorsports, and co-driving with my friend for over a decade now, Shelby Blackstock. We’ve been teammates, as well as competitors in the past, but never had the chance to share a car together.

That, combined with the expertise of Acura/HPD and Racers Edge Motorsports made for a pretty lethal combination on paper.

We had another live round in our chamber too. Often times race engineers are the unsung backbone of many teams worldwide. What made the transition so smooth for Shelby and me to the Racers Edge Motorsports team was the addition of my longtime friend and race engineer extraordinaire, Ryan McCarthy.

McCarthy has quite the history with the NSX, being with the Meyer Shank Racing GTD program from its inception in 2017. Prior to that, Ryan and I had worked towards a GS championship in 2014, then again to a GTD championship last year. The news of his joining the team was just another huge benefit.

The specific NSX that Shelby and I would be driving was a proven winner from the past, and although new to the Racers Edge team, getting the car up and running during testing and official practice came with no issue whatsoever.

Photo: Gavin Baker/SRO

This allowed us to throw multiple set-up changes at the car every time for the purpose of data collection and making sure Shelby’s first foray into GT3 machinery was met with plenty of quality seat time.

Just a note on that – for the unprepared driver, a GT3 car can be intimidating. It’s easy to forget how quick these things really are and for a driver who steps into one for the first time, the perception of going 10-12 seconds a lap quicker than anything previously driven could be a lot to take in.

I think many of the cars Shelby had driven in the past helped smooth this transition, but the biggest thing here was seeing how effective the TCR to GT3 step could be.

GT4 to GT3 are two totally different worlds and I find that there’s not a whole lot of translation between the two. Braking distances are much longer, cornering speeds are lower, and the cars are much slower to react to any driver input.

Photo: Brian Cleary/BCPix.com

The transition from the Civic Type-R TCR to the NSX GT3 Evo appeared, from the outside, to be much more natural.

Obviously, this observation was made following the first qualifying session of the weekend, where Shelby stuck it on the outside of the front row for Race 1, in the rain, on slicks. Pretty spectacular.

I had the chance to qualify for Sunday’s Race 2 not five minutes later, but unlike Shelby, luckily, I was on rain tires.To say the least, it was a wild qualifying session and after a few aborted laps due to traffic, we snatched pole position away on the very last lap by 9 tenths of a second! That was exciting.

From a team and driver’s perspective, sometimes the best races are the ones that are the most boring, since excitement usually means adversity.

Photo: Gavin Baker/SRO

Both Race 1 and Race 2 had their share of excitement, but luckily not for the No. 93 Acura NSX.

Keeping the car as clean as possible with some damn-near perfect pitstops performed by the REM team brought us to two overall wins on the weekend, as well as fastest lap in both races. For a debut weekend with a new team, it couldn’t have gone much better – all thanks to Acura, Acura Accelerated Service, Honda Performance Development, Jon Mirachi and our fantastic crew at Racers Edge Motorsports.

Now we wait. No professional road racing events will take place in America until IMSA at Mid-Ohio, but considering nobody really knows how long this thing is going to last,

I’m sure even that is questionable; understandably so. Our next GTWC America event will take place north of the border at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and that’s almost exactly two months away from now.

In the meantime, I foresee many weeks worth of watching, waiting, and maybe even an excursion back into the karting world to stay sharp.

Protect yourself my friends, stay healthy.

Photo: Racers Edge Motorsports

Trent Hindman (@TrentHindman) is the 2019 IMSA GT Daytona class champion, driving for Racers Edge Motorsports in GT World Challenge America powered by AWS, Meyer Shank Racing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Archangel Motorsports in Michelin Pilot Challenge.

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