HART Racing will shift its focus from the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge to supporting Michael Shank Racing’s new factory Acura NSX GT3 program in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the team announced on Thursday.
The two Ohio-based organizations will join forces this year, with HART laying out plans to race the NSX GT3 in the future, under its own Honda of America Racing Team banner.
“With our team being an Ohio company and the street NSX being built here, this is another cool part of that story with HART coming in to help us and learn as much as they can,” said Mike Shank.
“Doing all the testing that they have, they already know the street NSX like the back of their hands and they all have racing experience that will be a big benefit to our effort so I’m really happy that this came together.
“It is a very big project to launch an all-new car in this GTD class so having HART be a part of the effort is helping us cover more ground, quickly.”
HART, which is comprised of volunteers that work on Honda’s production line in Ohio, has been a mainstay of Continental Tire Challenge ST class competition, having fielded Honda Civics in recent years for the likes of Ryan Eversley and Michael Valiante.
Four members of the organization: team leader Chad Gilsinger, team manager Kurt Baker, crew chief Andrew Salzano and lead mechanic Tyler Chambers have been integrated with the MSR team, while also providing logistical assistance, in the form of one HART’s transporters.
Gilsinger, who finished third in the ST Drivers’ Championship last year, has played a key role in the development of the Acura NSX production car.
“From my job responsibilities at Honda R&D I have many years of experience working on chassis areas related to vehicle dynamics,” Gilsinger said.
“My main goal is to help out with chassis related items where I can and use this experience to learn more about the NSX GT3 car so I can better support the testing and confirmation during production with Honda R&D and PMC (Performance Manufacturing Center, the plant where the NSX is built).
“I was one of the key development drivers for the street car and this will help me better link the production car to the race car in the future.
“I will also be taking notes from the Michael Shank Racing drivers and looking at future video and data throughout the season so I will have a better understanding of the car’s character from a driver point of view.”
No timeline has been established for HART’s transition to running NSX GT3 cars on its own, with Honda Performance Development yet to confirm the date for planned customer car availability.