Aston Martin will take its place on next year’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Daytona grid with the newly-formed The Heart of Racing team.
The team will field the first new-generation Aston Martin Vantage GT3 in North America in a deal that reunites reigning Pirelli GT4 America Sprint champion James with Seattle businessmen Gabe Newell and Yahn Bernier. Drivers for the program are yet to be confirmed, but the Florida-based team has recruited crew from within the IMSA paddock, supplemented by Aston Martin Racing personnel.
“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.”
David King, President of Aston Martin Racing, said that the deal adds a significant element to the British manufacturer’s racing portfolio.
“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,” he said.
“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 US motorsport strategy in 2020.”
The Heart of Racing will also continue its fundraising alliance with Team Seattle, the ‘Racing for Children’ Guild that accepts donations for Seattle Children’s Hospital. Founded and run by Don and Donna Kitch since 1997, the Guild has raised more than $6 million for pediatric cardiac care at 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 fundraising 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.”
The team is scheduled to make its on-track debut at the ROAR Before the 24 at Daytona in January.