Launching a racing career while you’re still trying to complete high school is tough enough. Trying to become an Eagle Scout on top of that is quite the achievement. Harry Gottsacker managed to do that, earning the rank of Eagle in the Boy Scouts of America – the biggest honor one can achieve in the organization – while also racing in Pirelli World Challenge GTS.
After a couple of partial seasons in Ginettas – during which he also made forays into Global Rallycross and British GT – Gottsacker is racing in his first full season with Jon Mirachi’s Racer’s Edge Motorsports team in the No. 69 FRAM/Autolite SIN R1. He’s eighth in the standings heading into the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park rounds this weekend with a best finish of second in Round 3 at Circuit of The Americas. And all that while finishing high school as a home-school student; starting working in the family Harley-Davidson dealership in Borne, Texas, just outside of San Antonio; and earning that Eagle over the past couple of years.
“It’s taken me a while to get there and get the Eagle, but it’s going to pay off and I’m glad that I did it,” he says. “I’ve been going weekend to weekend working as much as I can on school, and the Eagle really took up a lot of time. About three months leading up to my final board of review was when I was really cracking down on the Eagle.”
Becoming an Eagle Scout requires, among many other things, completing a service project. Gottsacker chose building some picnic tables and refurbishing some landscaping for a preschool and day care center near the family’s Javelina Harley-Davidson shop. With that completed, his focus is now on getting the most of his first full season in World Challenge.
“I’m loving it so far. Jon Mirachi and that whole team is incredibly professional and just fluent in what they’re doing at the racetrack. We test quite a bit compared to the other teams I’ve worked with, which has been interesting, and I’m getting a really good feel for what the car is doing. They’re helping me explain to them what I need to say and how to say it to give proper feedback,” he says.
While also a boutique European brand like the Ginetta G55 he raced previously, the SIN R1 is a very different machine. It’s mid-engine vs. the front-engined Ginetta. The Ginetta is very light and uses a Ford 3.7-liter V6 as its powerplant. The SIN uses a Chevrolet LS3 6.2-liter V8.
“It felt kind of weird to me at first,” Gottsacker says. “I’m starting to get in the groove and the feeling of it now. Some of the tracks the car feels quite a bit different than how the Ginetta would and how it takes the grip, how you turn into the corner before you reach maximum grip. I like the fact that you can feel a difference between the two.”
Gottsacker has had a good start to the season, even if it took a bit to get up to speed at St. Petersburg. He was sixth in the second race at St. Pete, left COTA with a second and a fourth, and was second in the GT4 invitational class at Long Beach, even though he started last due to technical issues in qualifying. The two rounds at VIR were a bit rough, but he’s ready to rebound for Canadian Tire Motorsports Park this weekend. The big issues he sees for the next couple of rounds are the size of the fields, especially at the short, tight Lime Rock Park.
“There are a lot of entries in SprintX. The practice and qualifying is a little different because you have to work to find that space. It brings me back to my karting days when you’d be on track with 50 karts and you really had to find that room in qualifying to get a clean lap,” he says.
Pirelli World Challenge has back-to-back weekends with CTMP and Lime Rock. The rounds in Canada will be sprint races for GT and GTS, while Lime Rock will host a pair of SprintX races for both GT and GTS, plus the Touring Car classes.