Aston Martin will be represented on the GT Daytona class grid in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next year with a new team led by Ian James.
Announced on Friday, The Heart of Racing will make its IMSA return under the newly formed organization, which will campaign the first new-gen Aston Martin Vantage GT3 in North America.
Drivers for the full-season effort have not yet been announced.
Reigning Pirelli GT4 America Sprint champion James, who recently served as team manager for Team Panoz Racing, has been reunited with Seattle-based businessmen Gabe Newell and Yahn Bernier to bring The Heart of Racing back to IMSA competition after a three-year hiatus.
The Englishman had been one of the drivers for the Alex Job Racing-run effort in 2014-16 that also featured Mario Farnbacher and Alex Riberas.
“There are so many things to be excited about for 2020,” said James. “To set up a new team and align ourselves with the Aston Martin brand in North America is an amazing opportunity.
“The car has been competitive all around the world in 2019, and we are delighted to partner with Aston Martin Racing and bring it to North America.
“The Heart of Racing and Aston Martin have both had a three-year break from the IMSA Championship, so we’ve got a lot of making up to do, but are under no illusion on how tough the IMSA series is with all the great teams and drivers we have to compete against.”
As revealed by Sportscar365 last month, Aston Martin had been working on getting one of its GT3 cars on the IMSA GTD grid, with a deal with the upstart team having been finalized in the recent week.
Should all existing manufacturers return to the class, it would mark the 10th different GT3 brand represented in the class next year.
“The United States obviously represents a huge market for Aston Martin Racing and as such it is fantastic to see Heart of Racing return to IMSA with one of our Vantage GT3s,” said Aston Martin Racing president David King.
“The success of the new Vantage in its first year of customer racing means that we will see more exciting programs extend our reach further around the world next year, and we very much expect Heart of Racing to be a key pillar in our overall U.S. motorsport strategy in 2020.”
The Florida-based team will feature a “host of familiar faces” to the IMSA paddock supplemented by AMR personnel.
Team Seattle Collaboration to Continue
The Heart of Racing will also continue its successful fund-raising collaboration with Team Seattle, the ‘Racing for Children’ Guild which accepts donations for Seattle Children’s Hospital.
Founded and run by Don and Donna Kitch since 1997, the Guild, dedicated to raising money for pediatric cardiac care, has to date raised more than $6 million for the Seattle Children’s Heart Center.
“The Heart of Racing program has always been an inspiring environment to be in for everyone involved,” said James. “This is in addition to the very compelling fund-raising element.
“Gabe and Yahn’s support and vision is incredible and I’m delighted they decided to bring the program back to the IMSA paddock full-time. We have a close-knit crew, awesome full-time drivers to announce, and a great manufacturer partner. All the ingredients are in place.”