The Heart of Racing’s expansion into SRO America competition this year has been “pretty seamless” according to team manager Ian James, who has outlined a two-year commitment to the platform with racing newcomer Gray Newell.
Newell, the son of co-team owner Gabe Newell, made his pro racing debut in last month’s season-opening Pirelli GT4 America and GT America powered by AWS races at Sonoma Raceway.
The 23-year-old teamed with James in the pair of GT4 America races while raced solo in a second Aston Martin GT4 over the course of the weekend.
“We did a test program with him with 12 test days,” James explained to Sportscar365. “He’s never done any racing before.
“We started him off with the basics and gradually ramped up. He did a pretty good job for his first-ever races at Sonoma.”
James said the plan will be to continue a dual-series campaign for Newell as part of a two-year driver development program in GT4 machinery.
“For sure doing both of the series… there’s not that much running on a normal weekend,” James said. “I think it will really help him learn the new tracks that we haven’t tested at.
“Even with GT3 cars and the traffic it helps. He’s learning everything from scratch.
“We see GT4 as a two-year program. I’m sure next year we’ll give him a little bit of a run in the GT3 car just to experience it. But next year will be GT4 again.”
While The Heart of Racing’s IMSA program is Florida-based, James is running the GT4 operation out of Phoenix, with only a “couple of crossovers” in terms of personnel.
“There’s a local track that I do a lot of running at, Apex, in Phoenix,” he said. “So we’ve done a lot of testing there and it’s easier to go there.
“It’s working out fine. I like a challenge. It’s been pretty seamless. I’ve got some good people on both programs.”