Coming off the 2020 season, all of us at Bryan Herta Autosport were enjoying a run of success that many in the motorsports industry never get to experience after three consecutive championship seasons, and a sweep of the Manufacturer, Driver, and Team Championship in 2020.
Knowing that we came into 2021 with the opportunity to launch a new Elantra N TCR had us amped up for a new challenge. We geared up for this internally by bringing on board the highly respected David Brown as Technical Director. David has worked at the highest levels of Formula 1, IndyCar, and IMSA racing and has a background that really allows us to build out our capabilities as an organization.
After unveiling the Elantra N TCR at The Roar in Daytona, we set to work bringing our new thoroughbred up to speed. I absolutely LOVE developing new race cars. In the 1990’s, I was fortunate to compete in what many would consider a golden period of open-wheel racing that saw competing tire, engine, and chassis manufacturers, unlimited testing, and infinite permutations that could produce the winning formula. So, the chance to truly develop a new car as opposed to just ‘setting one up’ is one I truly savor.
Of course, the rest of the Michelin Pilot Challenge TCR field hasn’t stood still, and when you are competing against the likes of Audi, Honda, and Alfa Romeo in this class, you never expect it to. Our competition really got to work in the offseason.
At Daytona and Sebring, we worked through some teething problems on the new Elantra N TCR cars, but were able to bring home both the Elantras in the top ten. However, at the two Florida events our two Velosters put in performances that had us battling for the podium. It’s no secret the Velosters are fast, but the big surprise was that our new driver recruits, Taylor Hagler, Michael Johnson, and Stephen Simpson didn’t need any time to get up to speed. Michael and Stephen brought our BHA Hyundai squad our first podium result at Daytona. In Sebring, Taylor Hagler, paired with our veteran ace Michael Lewis finished the day in the top three.
Our BHA organization has also been putting in a lot of effort off-track with our partners at Hyundai. At Daytona, Hyundai Motorsport brought the Veloster N ETCR car for a demo run. One can’t help but be interested in what that may bring in the coming years, and we produced content to show a little more behind-the-scenes action to this electrified preview. In Sebring were able to debut our new N Lounge Studio, while we filmed a feature that I’ll be able to tell you more about in the coming months.
On the INDYCAR side, I’m in for some big changes this year and they are quite exciting. For the first time, I will working directly with my son Colton and running strategy for the Andretti Autosport effort on the #26 Gainbridge car. Marco will still drive our #98 car at the Indianapolis 500 this year as he defends his pole position from last year and goes for outright victory. I’m excited and thankful to continue our successful partnership with Andretti Autosport in INDYCAR, and can’t wait to see what Colton and Marco can do this year.
Until next time…