Victory is Twice as Nice for Grisham at Indianapolis

October 10, 2023

Shift Up Now Athlete Hannah Grisham, together with teammate Rianna O’Meara-Hunt, earned two consecutive victories in GT4 America powered by AWS season finale weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) on Friday, October 6, and Sunday, October 8, 2023.

The female duo earned their seats last November, when they were chosen from hundreds of applicants around the world to represent Heart of Racing. After a challenging 2023 outing, with a best result of fifth at three racetracks, the rookie pair made a statement to end the season.

On Thursday, cold weather and rain sprinkles cut practice time short. Later that day, significant rain fell during the second practice time, and the team elected not to take the risk of running. Therefore, Grisham and O’Meara-Hunt would go into qualifying with only a few laps run in the No. 26 Aston Martin Heart of Racing entry.

The following morning, Grisham was nominated to qualify the car first, on the dry track under bright skies. She would set the starting position for race one, with O’Meara-Hunt as the second driver, vying for their spot on the race-two starting grid.

Despite having driven minimal laps on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn IMS road course, Grisham started the session with relatively fast laps times, and picked up speed with every lap that she didn’t encounter traffic. With two laps remaining, she was on pole in her class for the second time this season, and just inside the top ten overall. On her final lap, she extended the margin, setting a fast lap of 1:31.515 and putting the Aston Martin in fifth place overall.

O’Meara-Hunt was up to the challenge of keeping the momentum going. She built up speed on her set of new Pirelli tires and got faster with each lap. At the end of the session, she had qualified third in the AM class to make it the Heart of Racing duo’s best combined qualifying performance of the season.

On Friday evening, Grisham was behind the wheel to take the green flag for the first race. The California native held her own among the Pro and ProAm cars at the front and settled in to a strong pace. She ran just behind the overall leaders until a short safety-car period bunched up the field. She held her composure at the restart, then set about rebuilding her gap to the next car in class.

As the pit stop window opened, the Heart of Racing team elected to keep Grisham behind the wheel to continue building the lead. The plan was foiled as cars that had pitted began to filter back onto the track in front of her, creating traffic, so the team called her into the pits.

O’Meara-Hunt took the wheel in the lead after a clean pit stop. She had a buffer of several ProAm cars between herself and the next car in the GT4 America AM class, which she would maintain for the entire race. As the track cooled, she set fast lap times and held the lead, taking the checkered flag and the team’s long-awaited first podium finish.

The GT World Challenge Indianapolis 8 Hour Race took place on Saturday, so the Heart of Racing duo would have to wait until Sunday to set their sights on victory again.

O’Meara-Hunt was behind the wheel for the start of the final GT4 America race of the season on Sunday morning. Cold temperatures and intermittent rain made the normally tight and treacherous first turn of the road course even more slick than normal.

Cars ahead of O’Meara-Hunt made contact and she made moves to stay out of trouble, but the No. 26 car was punted from behind. Instead of risking a spin as she corrected, she chose the turn one escape road, dropping in order but keeping the car safe.

A short safety-car period followed to clean up the track. After the restart, O’Meara-Hunt easily paced her closest competitors in the AM class and set her sights on moving forward.

Once the pit stop window opened, the team brought the car in and Grisham took the wheel. She made the most of a clear track ahead while the rest of the field pitted. After all pit stops were complete, Grisham found herself in P6 in the AM class. She charged forward, setting fast lap times and executing clean passes. Lap by lap, she climbed the overall order. With two laps remaining, she caught the leader and took the lead in turn one, closing out the season with another victory.

“What an amazing end to our year in GT4 America,” said Grisham. “This season, we’ve had our fair share of bad luck. But to go to Indy and walk away with two wins is surreal. Rianna and I both had strong combined speed, allowing us to qualify well, despite only having ten laps on the track.

“I want to say a special thank you to Heart of Racing for the incredible opportunity this year. I’m thrilled that we had two great races to finish the season, and showed we have the pace to battle at the front.”

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