After selecting nine racers from more than 100 female applicants to participate in a two-day shootout at the APEX Motor Club in Maricopa, The Heart of Racing has announced two promising racers will join its team starting in 2023.
Hannah Grisham of Glendora, Calif. and Rianna O’Meara-Hunt of Wellington, New Zealand emerged as the top picks.
Grisham and O’Meara-Hunt will compete in the 2023 SRO GT4 America SprintX championship, sharing driving duties onboard an Aston Martin Vantage GT4. Their race schedule features outings at Sonoma Raceway, Circuit of the Americas, VIRginia International Raceway, Road America and Sebring International Raceway.
Nine female racers from around the globe participated at APEX in The Heart of Racing’s two-day shootout. Team members Ian James, Paul Charlsley, Alex Riberas, Roman De Angelis and Ashton Harrison tested and observed the candidates’ abilities.
Testing included significant track time behind the wheel of the Aston Martins, allowing drivers to become acquainted with the GT4s as well as how to make the most of the Pirelli tires through multiple heat cycles. On-track sessions also included mock qualifying runs as well as race simulations, allowing drivers to demonstrate their approaches to scenarios.
“All of the drivers did an incredible job in the car, which made our decision that much more difficult,” James said. “It was important for us to see growth over the two days, someone who was willing to take in the feedback and apply it on the track – and all of the drivers did this exceptionally well.
“Both Hannah and Rianna were very open to learning. They reached out for help and feedback and were focused on the task at hand. We had originally intended to bring one driver on, but it was clear after reviewing everyone’s performance that pairing these two in SprintX was the best solution.”
Grisham is a part of the Shift Up Now program and races in the World Racing League, where she has collected several race wins and championships.
“Getting this opportunity means everything to me,” Grisham said. “The whole team has been amazing and they truly care about what they stand for. It really just feels like a big family and I’m excited for that. I think this opportunity is a great new step for me to enter a competitive series that will push me.
“All of the girls were really great and we all had a lot of fun in Arizona. I was able to spend some time with Rianna following the shootout, and we got along great. I’m just excited to share this opportunity with her.”
O’Meara-Hunt will be making her North American racing debut with The Heart of Racing next year after having competed in the New Zealand Toyota 86 Championship this year. She claimed several major national karting championships.
“To be selected for this drive next year is a dream come true,” O’Meara-Hunt said. “I am speechless but also so proud of the achievement. Myself and a great number of supporters back home in NZ had put in a lot of hard work before the test to prepare and it is awesome that it has all paid off. I am happy not only for myself, but also for all the people that really got in behind me.”
Grisham and O’Meara-Hunt will compete in the SRO SprintX Championship with the first race of the season taking place at Sonoma Raceway March 31-April 2 next year.