DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 06, 2004) -- Honda of America Racing Team will make its Rolex Sports Car Series debut in the Food City 250 at Phoenix International Raceway, April 8-10. John Schmitt and Pete Halsmer will co-pilot the No. 62 Acura NSX in the 250-mile race.
The Honda of America Racing Team is no stranger to Grand American. Schmitt was the 2003 Grand-Am Cup Sport Touring class driver champion, while Halsmer finished second. The two also won last year's Grand-Am Cup ST race at Phoenix.
"It is a very big step for our team," Schmitt said. "Moving from the Grand-Am Cup Series to the Rolex Series is something this team has wanted to do for some time now. The move also provides many new learning opportunities for our team members, and hopefully we will have as much success as we did in the Grand-Am Cup Series."
Developing a car to run in the Rolex Series can take time. The team was originally slated to make its debut last month in Miami, but the date was pushed back until this weekend's Food City 250.
"The level of development involved in a GT car is so much higher than a Grand-Am Cup car that it can really intimidate people," Schmitt said. "It has been slow as we had planned on being at Homestead, but due to progress on the car and some budgeting concerns, we have had to delay debuting the car until Phoenix. We finally did a two-day test and experienced only minor problems.
"We try to debut a new car every two or three years, whether by plan or as a function of the racing environment. We are very excited about the potential of the NSX. "
Schmitt is looking forward to the race and has high hopes that the car will be just as successful in the Rolex Series as it was in Grand-Am Cup.
"The goals we have set for the team this year are to learn as much as possible and determine the competitiveness of the NSX," he said. "The race at Phoenix will definitely be a major test for the team. Every aspect of running this race is going to be like starting all over, from qualifying to race prep to pit stops.
The Honda of America Racing Team No. 62 Acura NSX can be seen at Phoenix International Raceway April 10 for the Rolex Series Food City 250. The race begins at 9 p.m. ET and can be seen LIVE on SPEED Channel. Tickets are available at www.phoenixraceway.com.
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The HART team recently spent two test days running the car at Roebling Road in Savannah, GA. The first day was spent trying to get the shift cut working followed by a decent amount of suspension/chassis tuning. The second day continued with more chassis tuning along with some longer runs for fuel consumption and to give the drivers (John Schmitt and Pete Halsmer) more time in the car. Overall the test session went very well with no major mechanical problems, just some little things that need to be fixed before the car enters its first race at Phoenix.
Below are some photos from Roebling.