When the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship kicks off with the Rolex 24 At Daytona at the end of the month, central Ohio race fans will have double the reason to cheer as two central-Ohio based sports car teams will collaborate to support a brand new racing program. Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian has been tabbed to spearhead Acura Motorsports’ return to IMSA racing in 2017, and the Marysville-based HART Racing team will focus on supporting Michael Shank Racing in the all-new Acura program.
HART Racing (Honda of America Racing Team), a longtime competitor in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Series with the Honda Civic, is taking the 2017 season to learn more about the Acura NSX GT3 by working with Michael Shank Racing which fields a two-car Acura NSX GT3 effort in the GTD class. Each of HART Racing’s team members are full-time employees of Honda R&D in Raymond, Ohio and Honda of America Manufacturing in Marysville, Ohio and each has worked on the development of the production NSX.
The Honda-based HART Racing team, a program that operates with a dedicated group of volunteers, is located just on the other side of Columbus, Ohio from Michael Shank Racing.
With the NSX starting production in the Marysville plant in June, the geographical advantages were clear to all as the collaboration was established.
As HART works to develop plans to race with the Acura NSX GT3 in the future, the team will step away from competition in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge to take on a new and important role in 2017 as it integrates into the support program with Michael Shank Racing for the new Acura Motorsports effort in IMSA WeatherTech competition.
Meanwhile, the relationship is mutually beneficial for Michael Shank Racing team owner Mike Shank, who has added four very experienced and skilled members to the Shank stable.
Chad Gilsinger is a senior member of HART Racing and has performed many roles including driver of the No. 93 Honda Civic Si. Gilsinger has driven for HART since 2002 and in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge since 2012. He has claimed three poles, five wins, 15 podiums and finished second in the championship last year.
“From my job responsibilities at Honda R&D I have many years of experience working on chassis areas related to vehicle dynamics,” said Gilsinger. “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.”
Kurt Baker, who serves as the Team Manager for HART Racing, has a main role with Michael Shank Racing in providing the link between PMC and the race program and will also be right in the heart of the pit lane action as he has been integrated into the team’s race day pit stops. Kurt was one of the lead engineers responsible for production startup for the NSX.
Andrew Salzano serves as the HART Racing Crew Chief and initially worked with Michael Shank Racing to tune the Electronic Power Steering System (EPS). After having recently moved into a steering test role at Honda R&D, the work provided good hands-on experience. Salzano will collect and control video for the No. 86 Acura NSX GT3 as well as assist with the team during race day pit stops. The role will give Salzano the opportunity to observe the Michael Shank Racing Crew Chiefs and pick up on the important information necessary for running in the GTD class.
Tyler Chambers, the lead mechanic for HART Racing, is continuing to work as a mechanic at Michael Shank Racing. He will serve as a tire changer on the No. 93 Acura NSX GT3 during pit stops. Having worked on the NSX production team, Chambers will be able to take what he learns from the racing program and bring it back to the production side.
“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 Michael Shank Racing Team Owner 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.”
The Rolex 24 At Daytona opens the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season on January 28.
Source. Sunday Group