You likely know the name and racing accolades Bryan Herta has accomplished throughout his career. Bryan Herta Autosport combines all of the racing experience from behind the wheel with all of the technical skills, set up, and support required to get around the track with a high degree of success. That racing acumen is applied through top-level motorsports and rigorous racing efforts.
Bryan Herta is, of course, the veteran driver and team owner of Bryan Herta Autosport (BHA). He began his driving career in 1990, driving a variety of disciplines before stepping out of the driver’s seat full-time in 2008. During that time, Herta enjoyed success at every level, including an Indy Lights championship, multiple IndyCar race wins (both CART and IRL), and an LMP2 class win at the 12 Hours of Sebring race in 2007.
This category will open up our program to a whole new sector of racers and allow us to build relationships further into the grassroots of the road-racing ecosystem. — Bryan Herta
Herta wasted no time putting his years of experience to use, forming Bryan Herta Autosport in 2009. Initially, the team competed in Indy Lights then quickly transitioned into IndyCar, winning the 2011 and 2016 Indianapolis 500. BHA seized the opportunity to partner with Hyundai as it entered into motorsports in North America in 2018.
In its first season of competition in the Pirelli World Challenge TCR class, BHA quickly showed its dominance utilizing the Hyundai Veloster N platform. The team qualified with eight pole positions, won 7 of the 12 races, and secured both the team and manufacturers’ championships.
For 2019, Hyundai and Bryan Herta Autosport sought out a new challenge and have continued to realize success in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Series. The team has earned multiple TCR pole positions and race wins, and is also leading the driver and team championships heading into the season finale at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on October 11.
Success Opens New Door(slammer)
Speaking of new challenges; though the current widebody Veloster N TCR car has all the right equipment to make it competitive, the team decided they wanted to expand upon their efforts. To help grow Hyundai’s motorsport involvement in North America, BHA is working closely with Hyundai to develop an affordable TCA class Veloster door-slammer that is within reach of budding racers and privateers.
“We have started a build on a new Hyundai Veloster TCA car, where we are converting a Hyundai Veloster Turbo R-Spec (road car) into an affordable and competitive race car,” says Bryan Herta.
“The build effort has taken several weeks and many long hours from our team, but our project goal is to reveal the car at the TC America finale in Las Vegas — and we are on schedule to do so. It will be a significant milestone for Hyundai too, as there will be a Veloster racing in TCR, TCA, and TC categories during the same race weekend.”
Follow Along On The Build
When TURNology caught wind of the idea of BHA building a car that will appeal to modest race teams and privateers, we jumped at the chance to follow the build. The Veloster R-Spec will officially be available through Bryan Herta Autosport and is being built to enter into the homologated TCA class racing as well as NASA, SCCA, and other club-level events.
The Veloster is already a hot platform in grassroots-level racing, and we see this partnership leading to many improvements for the privateers looking to improve their programs. To kick off the discussion, we contacted Assistant Team Manager, Bob McAleer, about the details and the build progress to date.
“We took delivery of the car from a Hyundai dealership and during the summer removed nearly everything from the car except the drivetrain,” he said. “Re-assembly is ongoing and nearing completion.”
Our aim is to follow this decidedly more-grassroots approach to building a race car, even though it is being done by a larger pro team. The mission here is high-value, simplicity, and repeatability so that others can replicate the Veloster TCA car for their own program for the 2020 season and beyond.
“This category will open up our program to a whole new sector of racers and allow us to build relationships further into the grassroots of the road-racing ecosystem,” team boss Bryan Herta said. “I have really enjoyed leading the effort and seeing it all come together over the course of this season.”
Before the real-world testing gets underway, we thought to document the build in a series of easy steps — in a logical roadmap of progress, if you will. At the conclusion, we will see the car for real, in its entirety, at the TC America season finale in Las Vegas.
Phase I: Gutting, Electrics, and Safety
Starting with a 2019 Hyundai Veloster Turbo R-Spec, the first phase is to tear-down the existing car by eliminating any dead weight, unnecessary electronics (for racing), and redundant wiring. The Hyundai Veloster itself was $23,820 including the freight charge, but a lot of the extras are being pulled including the Infinity Premium eight-speaker audio and creature comforts like air-conditioning and sound-deadening materials.
Beyond the removal, a steel rollcage meeting the spec-requirements of the series has been added for safety and rigidity. Since the 2019 Veloster is so new, several items had to be custom-made for the application including possibly the world’s first quick-release steering wheel adapter for a Veloster.
Phase II: Suspension Set-Up
The cars in TCA are near-stock, and of course, heavily restricted. However, one of the difference makers in a TCA Class race car is the suspension, which can be modified. Stock mounting points and locations remain, but Bryan Herta Autosport is examining the suspension-component options available from several manufacturers including BC Racing, Eibach, and Penske Racing Shocks. We’ll document who BHA chooses, what spec, and what edge the final set up can give both the team and anyone who grabs one of these cars for 2020 racing.
Beyond the coilovers, race bushings, sway bars, and various stiffening techniques may be added to the final homologation. The Herta crew’s selections will offer wisdom on setups that not only work in this application but can be parlayed into your race efforts in a universal application.
Phase III: Tires, Brakes, and Wheels
The connection to the ground is going to be imperative to any degree of success. The Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires sized in 225/40R18 are great out of the box but have to make room for a 17-inch Pirelli spec-tire in the TCA Class.
Brake pads and rotors need to handle the rigors of racing, and the wheels better be ready to drive over some curbs, because the Bryan Herta Autosport team is looking to make a statement early. We’ll let you know what the team decides on these critical components.
Finale: A New Race Car For A Tight Series
The final meet up with the BHA Hyundai Veloster TCA car in ready-to-race trim will be at the final TC America race of the season on October 18-20. The Veloster TCA car will be unveiled to the public, the media, and potential racers of this exact same car built-to-spec by Bryan Herta Autosport.
From a few conversations and bouncing ideas around, the shared-vision of Hyundai and Bryan Herta Autosport has come full-circle from a dream and a rendering to a complete race car that even the most frugal race team can get out there and campaign.
Final driving impressions from the racers, any changes to the spec, and pricing info for the ready-to-race Hyundai Veloster TCA will be announced here on TURNology.com. We are looking forward to how Bryan Herta Autosport makes it happen, and we’ll be at every step to show how the pros go racing on a budget and still be a threat on the race track.