Fanatec GT World Challenge America Hits the Track
Fanatec GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS took over the track this past weekend, May 19 to 21, at its biggest event of the season. Brought to the States by SRO Motorsports Group America, this weekend was the first race at Circuit of The Americas since the Group established Austin, Texas as their new American headquarters. The Capital city is in good company among other offices in London, Paris, Brussels, and Hong Kong.
GT World Challenge America gives spectators some of the greatest access to the paddock, drivers, teams, and cars out of any motorsports event. Touting an open paddock with any ticket, autograph sessions for all series, and a sensory-friendly pit walk on race day, GT World Challenge America opens its arms to motorsports fans of all levels.
Also at COTA this weekend were the TC America Powered by Skip Barber championship, the Toyota Gazoo Racing North America GR Cup, and the Pirelli GT4 America series.
All series offer two races alongside practice and qualifying each race weekend. Saturday afternoon hosts Race 1 while Sunday sees Race 2. Prior to the Sunday race, Circuit of The Americas and SRO Motorsports partnered for a very unique opportunity: a sensory-friendly pit walk.
Typical pit walks involve all the hustle and bustle of a race crowd; attendees huddled around their favorite car, the smell of high-grade fuel in the air, and the melting rubber of old tires wafting from garages. Arguably, not an environment considered friendly to fans with reactive senses.
This sensory-safe pit walk was developed to welcome these audiences in partnership with driver Kyle Loh, who has found success as a professional driver while navigating motorsports with Autism and competed this weekend. Prior to the walk, Loh spoke to attendees from local nonprofits supporting the neurodivergent community to prepare them for what they would experience. One of the children in the group excitedly asked, “Wait, just like me?” as Loh introduced himself as an up-and-coming professional racing car driver with Autism.
Afterwards, Loh said, “The first ever Sensory Safe Pit Walk with GTWC was a huge success! What makes this event special is that we tailored it for neurodiverse people like myself of all ages to have a proper chance at experiencing the motorsport atmosphere without the overwhelming crowds and noises. To help raise autism awareness through motorsport has been a unique goal of mine ever since my first go-kart race. Thank you so much to SRO, Circuit of the Americas, Dell Children’s Hospice, Kinetic Kids, Imagine A Way, L.A. Honda World, and Dreamzilla for helping us achieve this mega milestone!”
Saturday and Sunday’s races saw tons of action with a few crashes, plenty of spins, and intense competition. In Race 1 for GT World Challenge America, George Kurtz and Colin Braun driving for CrowdStrike by Riley in the Mercedes-AMG GT3 took first overall and first in the Pro-Am class (one professional driver and one amateur driver racing). Kurtz is the amateur of the duo while Braun is the pro.
Race 2 saw a bit of weather on and off throughout the 90 minutes. Drivers navigated COTA’s famous Turn 1 hill and weaving Esses on slick tires. Early in the race, Braun (CrowdStrike) was behind the wheel when early collisions required him to retire his car. From there, a tense battle ensued between Wright Motorsports, RS1, and Racers Edge Motorsports for the podium positions. Ultimately Ashton Harrison and Mario Farnbacher brought home the win for Racers Edge with Eric Filgueiras and Stevan McAleer taking silver for RS1 and Adam Adelson and Elliott Skeer rounding out the podium for Wright Motorsports.
Fanatec GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS heads to Virginia International Raceway in mid-June.