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Pirelli Paddock Pass: Harry Gottsacker

This week’s Pirelli Paddock Pass featuring GT4 America and TCR ace Harry Gottsacker…

Photo: Gavin Baker/SRO

Harry Gottsacker was a busy man in 2020, with full-season programs in both Pirelli GT4 America SprintX and the TCR category of IMSA Pilot Challenge.

The American racer achieved success in both parts of that dual program, winning races and finishing second in the two sets of standings.

In this week’s Pirelli Paddock Pass, Gottsacker recaps the highlights of his GT4 campaign with a new co-driver in Nick Wittmer, explains the benefits of having two distinct full-season drives and shares one of his favorite downtime activities away from the track.

How would you assess your season in SprintX this year?

“We had a great season in the ST Racing BMW M4 GT4 with some wins and a second place in the Silver championship.

“Any time you can collect a lot of hardware is a good feeling, but we missed out on the goal we set out at the beginning of the season for the championship.

“We were unlucky at times and just missed on the execution, and that cost us the gold medal.

“I have to thank Samantha Tan, Ken Tan, and Benjamin Distaulo for the opportunity to drive for ST Racing for two seasons and hopefully more in the future! We have accomplished a lot and it wouldn’t be without their faith in me and consistent support.”

After sharing a car with Jon Miller in the 2019 GT4 America SprintX West series, how did you find switching to a new driving partner in Nick Wittmer?

“The ST team is unique in that we all collaborate together to improve the car and our efforts.  It really didn’t seem like that big of a change with a new co-driver.

“Adding Nick to the mix was great because he has so much knowledge of the cars and motorsports in general. We looked for the same things in the car even though we find the speed in different ways, and that’s what you look for in a teammate.

“I would say the only difficult part about switching teammates was having to drive during my stint against Jon!”

Was there a particular event or race that stood out for you as a highlight?

“Indianapolis was a stand-out event for sure. We were fighting Andretti Autosport for the championship and we brought everything we had to try and jump them in the points.

“I felt like it was my best personal performance of the year as well and we came home with a win and podium.”

Can we expect to see you return to SRO America competition next year? Are you interested in returning to GT3 at some point?

“My only confirmed program for 2021 is to return to (IMSA) as a factory driver for Hyundai and Bryan Herta Autosport.

“SRO has been home base for me for 5 years now, and I am looking to continue that. I am working with my management to identify other opportunities that can help me in my career and GT3 is high on the list.

“I’m excited to be back with Bryan Herta Autosport in the No. 33 with Mark Wilkins.

“This will be my third year with the team and consistency is always a good thing! It is an honor to be the first to develop the Hyundai Elantra N TCR for competition and we are up to the task.

“We had so many strong runs last year that I think we are going to pick right up where we left off at Sebring.”

What are the benefits of having programs in two different categories (GT4 and TCR)? How important is it for you to have that sort of dual commitment?

“The benefit of dual programs is that you really are accelerating what you can accomplish and learn in half the time.

“It is beneficial to work with two different teams and learn different communication methods.

“It is ultimately important to have success in whatever I do, so I would say that we have accomplished that with BHA and ST Racing.

“It is important for me to have the dual program because I am a racer. I come from a family of racers. I want to be seen as that guy that people can call on whenever there is a need and they know I am ready to race.”

We hear you’re a keen fisherman when you’re not at the racetrack. What do you normally go for, and what’s been this year’s highlight catch?

“Now we’re talking! I’ve found more time this year to be able to get out and go fishing with everything going on.

“I try to find places to fish near or in between racetracks, so I’ve been to Lake Lanier, Elkhart Lake, Lake of the Ozarks, and the Gulf of Mexico.

“The best fish I caught this year was a 60-plus pound cobia in the gulf.”

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