Despite an encouraging debut in top-level IMSA competition, HART is unlikely to take part in next month’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship round at Mid-Ohio, according to team leader Chad Gilsinger.
The Ohio-based team, made up entirely of volunteers including Honda engineers that work at the Acura NSX production facility in Marysville, had been targeting the May 4-6 race in addition to its previously committed Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup program with an Acura NSX GT3.
However, a late-race incident at Sebring, which resulted in $80,000 in bodywork damage, has been among the factors that’s put the team on the sidelines for its home race.
“As of now, we’re not going to Mid-Ohio, unfortunately,” Gilsinger told Sportscar365.
“The team really wants to attend our home event in front of our home crowd and all of the employees.
“We’re trying really hard to make that happen, but unfortunately at the moment, we haven’t been able to secure the needed budget to do that additional race.”
A strong debut for HART was hampered by a broken shock as a result of contact at Daytona, while the team had been on pace for a top-five class finish in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring until getting collected in Tristan Vautier’s late-race accident.
Despite no car-to-car contact, debris from the Frenchman’s wrecked Cadillac DPi-V.R, including its splitter, ended up lodged inside the Acura and took Gilsinger and co-drivers Ryan Eversley and Tom Dyer out of contention.
Gilsinger, however, has reaffirmed plans to complete the Patron Endurance Cup season, with Dyer likely to rejoin he and Eversley for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen and Motul Petit Le Mans.
“There was discussion of us maybe doing Mid-Ohio and not doing of the others, because of it being our home track,” Gilsinger said. “But we really want to continue with what we planned to.
“We want to do The Glen and Petit, that way we stay on track and help Acura in the manufacturers points for the North American Endurance Cup, because between us and Shank, I think we can do pretty well for Acura.
“It’s definitely bitter-sweet. We’re happy to be able to continue [our program] but we really did want to do Mid-Ohio. Unfortunately it’s not working out quite like we had hoped yet.”
Only a single Acura GT3 car, MSR’s No. 93 car, is currently confirmed for the Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio, although an initiative is still understood to be ongoing to put the No. 86 Shank entry on the grid for the remainder of the season.
‘Surprising’ Performance at Daytona, Sebring
Gilsinger admitted that the team’s performance in the opening two rounds had perhaps taken some people by surprise.
Its Acura ran inside the top-five in both races, with Dyer ending up qualifying as the highest-placed NSX GT3 at Sebring.
“It’s been really good at the track, and I think it’s also been really good within the company,” Gilsinger said.
“I think we actually surprised a lot of people internally. I don’t want to say people didn’t think we could do it but I think they thought we’d struggle a lot more than we’ve had.”
The team has recently rolled out its own line of merchandise, due to numerous requests from fans on its social media accounts, which are looked after by Gilsinger’s son, Miles, a Purdue University engineering student.
“At Sebring, they sold out of all of our merchandise, and from my understanding, they said that even online sales has continued to roll in afterwards,” Gilsinger said.
“It’s really cool to see people that excited that they want to wear some our branded items.”