The last two months have been a whirlwind for the Bryan Herta Autosport team. An inevitable consequence of the shutdown was that the back-half of our calendars were going to be extremely busy, as rescheduled events were placed into a compressed timeframe. This brought about and insanely intense schedule for our team members and it’s been a privilege to work alongside a group that has stepped up to the challenge and handled the stresses this has brought.
In mid-October, we headed to the annual Petit LeMans weekend at Road Atlanta and were excited to welcome the reigning SRO TCR Champions, Copeland Motorsports to IMSA competition with their two young guns, Tyler Maxson and Tyler Gonzalez. The BHA Customer Support team has been working closely with Dean Copeland over the past two years and appreciate the professional way he operates his organization and collaborates with our BHA Hyundai team. Data and information are pure gold to us on a weekend so the more of it we are able to gather, the more we can share to try and beat the competition, so we were happy to have Dean and his drivers working with us.
We knew that drivers Tyler Maxson and Tyler Gonzalez would get up to speed quickly in the Veloster N TCR car after watching their performance in SRO competition this year…perhaps we didn’t realize just how quickly! The race turned out to be a Hyundai versus Hyundai battle for the win as our 2019 Champ Michael Lewis squared off Maxon, swapping the lead over the last four laps. Michael was able to bring our #98 Veloster home first with the Copeland car coming home right on our back bumper.
From there I headed down to St. Petersburg for the INDYCAR finale, always one of my favorite events on the calendar and one in which I felt Marco Andretti could bring us a great result. We were well on our way to a top-five finish when we were caught up in an incident that unfortunately ended our day.
Then it was back home for a few days and on up to my favorite racetrack on the schedule, Laguna Seca, for the Hyundai Monterey Sports Car Championship. This weekend was even more important as it was the first event where our Hyundai partners took a title position. This allowed us to support a variety of promotional and content activities for Hyundai’s first experience as an event title sponsor. This race combined a lot of my favorite things!
Even more meaningful was the opportunity to have our friend Paul Imhoff and his family attend the race in person and see firsthand “The Beast” car that we have named in honor of his late son. The courage with which they shared their story and “Faith Over Fear” message with our team is something that I have a lot of admiration for. I know it affected a lot our team members in a positive way. On-track we had a mixed bag of fortune at Laguna Seca with multiple cars getting caught up in a first lap pile-up, but we were able to bring home the checkered flag with our #33 “Beast” car.
After a welcomed weekend at home, I headed to Sebring for the rescheduled 12 Hours weekend, and our season finale. This was our opportunity to bring home our first-ever manufacturers’ crown for Hyundai, our second IMSA TCR championship, and we had two cars battling for the drivers’ championship.
All that being said, I think my favorite part of the weekend was a Thursday evening Veloster Owner’s meetup we hosted at the track. A brig priority of ours in 2020 was actively engaging the large community of Veloster owners we so often hear from on our social channels. Of course 2020 had other plans, but through a cooperative effort with the N Club of Florida, the Sebring Raceway staff and our BHA Public Relations team, we were able to host over 30 cars and award prizes. I t was amazing to see the passion that the brand has ignited with these enthusiasts and how closely they follow our race results. Some of these fans came from three hours away to spend some time with us, and it was very humbling to address them and hear how much our efforts mean to them.
On Friday, out attitude was all business at the track, and we weren’t taking anything for granted. After an eventful two-hour race, Harry Gottsacker and Mark Wilkins took home the win in our #21 Veloster, followed up by the #33 of Gabby Chaves and Ryan Norman who won the Drivers’ Championship. All in all, we were able to deliver a Manufacturers’ Championship for Hyundai, another Team Championship and sweep the first three positions in the Drivers’ Championship.
This year has not been easy for any of us, but the way our team stepped up and collectively through so much uncertainty and tension is something I’ll forever be proud of, and the unwavering support we have received from our partners at Hyundai is something I never take for granted.
Celebrations never last long around here though, and we are already preparing for the 2021 season.
Until next time,