Nissan has taken the GT-R AKA Godzilla racing all over the world via customer car programs and OEM-backed programs. However, the GT-R hasn’t seen much racing action stateside despite its decades of racing pedigree. It looks like that is finally going to change. Today Nissan announced that they will partner with the “Always Evolving” racing team to campaign a two car effort in the Pirelli Challenge series this year. The weapon of choice will be the new Nissan GT-R GT3 built by the mad men from Nissan’s NISMO motorsport arm.
If the name “Always Evolving” sounds familiar that is because this is the same racing team that was co-founded by Roger Rodas who unfortunately passed away in a car accident along with friend and team supporter Paul Walker. The team prides themselves on enjoying motorsport life while also giving back by contributing to several charitable organizations.
The team has tapped Bryan Heitkotter and James Davison as their drivers. Bryan was the first winner of the North American GT Academy program which was a nationwide competition among the best Gran Turismo players to graduate to a real life racing career. Since winning GT Academy Bryan raced for two years in a 370Z NISMO for Doran Racing in the Continental Tire series and raced in the Altima Program in 2014 in the Pirelli Challenge. James has a strong background in open wheel racing running Formula BMW, Star Mazda, and the Indy Lights championship. James also drove for the TRG-Aston Martin team in the IMSA series.
Sponsored by Replay XD and backed by NISMO Motorsport the team will begin their run for the Pirelli Challenge championship next month in a trail by fire at the Circuit Of The Americas. Personally, I can’t wait to see these cars in action. I especially can’t wait to see them up close at the Grand Prix of Long Beach in April! For a better picture of the GT-R GT3 just click the thumbnail below. For more info the official press release is below as well.
2011 Nissan GT Academy Champion Bryan Heitkotter to pilot #05 GT-R GT3
IndyCar, Prototype and GT racer James Davison to Campaign #33 GT-R GT3
First U.S. Appearance of Nissan GT-R Built to FIA GT3 Specifications
Debuts in Pirelli World Challenge at Circuit of the Americas March 6-8
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Nissan Motorsports announced today a partnership with Always Evolving (AE) to campaign two GT Academy-NISMO Nissan GT-R GT3 racing cars for the 2015 Pirelli World Challenge season.
Nissan GT Academy North America 2011 winner Bryan Heitkotter will drive one of the team cars, while Australian open wheel and GT star James Davison will pilot the second car. Featuring logos from the GT Academy program, the two cars will be co-sponsored by Replay XD and NISMO.
AE will utilize AIM Autosport for much of the car preparation and on-track support during the season. ased in Los Angeles, the team was founded in March 2013 by friends Roger Rodas and Erik Davis as a platform combine their passion for cars and their desire to support their favorite charitable organizations. Following Rodas’ tragic passing in November 2013, the team has established “Racing in Honor” as their internal mission for the 2014 season in his memory. ased in Los Angeles, the team was founded in March 2013 by friends Roger Rodas and Erik Davis as a platform combine their passion for cars and their desire to support their favorite charitable organizations. Following Rodas’ tragic passing in November 2013, the team has established “Racing in Honor” as their internal mission for the 2014 season in his memory. AIM won the 2012 IMSA GTD team, driver and manufacturer championships, as well as the 2013 manufacturer title while campaigning a Ferrari.
“Nissan couldn’t be happier to have Always Evolving and AIM as Nissan’s partners to campaign the first GT3 spec GT-Rs in the U.S. in Pirelli World Challenge,” said Rick Kulach, Nissan North America Motorsports Manager. “This partnership is a great opportunity to showcase Bryan’s talents alongside James, who is a rising star in motorsports. It’s exciting to have a GT Academy champion in a great car racing at this level.”
Based in Los Angeles, Always Evolving Racing was founded in 2013 by Erik Davis and Roger Rodas to combine the friends’ passion for cars with their desire to support their favorite charities. Following a tragic automobile accident late in 2013 that took Rodas’ life, Davis elected to continue with Always Evolving in his friend’s honor.
“We are extremely excited to partner with Nissan in Pirelli World Challenge,” said Erik Davis, Chairman of AE. “Our two brands have had a distant relationship for many years, and to be able to now officially launch an effort together bringing the Nissan NISMO GT3 GT-R to North America is humbling to say the least. We look forward to showcasing the team, our drivers, the GT Academy and our sponsors in a very competitive platform.”
Heitkotter, 34, won North America’s first gamer-to-racer GT Academy competition in 2011. In 2012 and 2013 while driving a Nissan 370Z NISMO for Doran Racing, Heitkotter earned three pole positions, two second qualifying spots, four top 10 finishes and a podium. In 2014, Bryan switched to a Nissan Altima for the CA Sports team. There, he earned three podiums and four top five finishes in the Pirelli World Challenge Touring Car (TC) category in six events. Most recently, behind the wheel of the Doran #41 370Z NISMO, Heitkotter and GT Academy teammate Nick McMillen finished sixth overall in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Series (CTSCC) race at Daytona International Speedway in January 2015.
“I have been watching the Pirelli World Challenge gain momentum over the past couple years, and I’m absolutely thrilled to help represent Nissan in this highly competitive series,” said Heitkotter. “The GT-R has proven to be a spectacular racing car, and I can’t wait to see what we can all accomplish together.”
Davison, 28, was born in Melbourne, Australia and moved to the United States when he was 18 years of age to develop his skills in open wheel racing. His career highlights include a 2005 victory in Formula BMW at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a runner-up finish in the 2007 Star Mazda Championship, and second spot in the 2009 Indy Lights Championship. Davison ran up front during the 2014 Indianapolis 500 driving for Always Evolving KV Racing Technology, finishing the race in 16th position. In his limited time in sports cars he has always been at the front, driving for the TRG-Aston Martin team in IMSA competition. Davison has recorded five consecutive poles in IMSA including pole position at the 2015 Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway.
“We have great confidence in Erik (Davis)’s vision and ability to campaign a competitive car at a high level every race,” added Kulach. “James Davison is not only a talented young race driver, but he’s also a great sportsman and will be an outstanding representative for the Nissan brand.”
The first Pirelli World Challenge Race for 2015 will be at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas March 6-8. Television broadcast times have not yet been announced and the series will be webcast via www.world-challengetv.com.
For more NISMO and Nissan Racing information:
About Nissan North America
In North America, Nissan’s operations include automotive styling, engineering, consumer and corporate financing, sales and marketing, distribution and manufacturing. Nissan is dedicated to improving the environment under the Nissan Green Program and has been recognized as an ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency. More information on Nissan in North America and the complete line of Nissan and Infiniti vehicles can be found online at www.NissanUSA.com and www.InfinitiUSA.com, or visit the Americas media sites NissanNews.com and InfinitiNews.com.
About Always Evolving
Always Evolving is an integrated media and technology company with a diversified portfolio of software and hardware assets. The company recently acquired the Replay XD action camera system and is hard at work making sure more consumers, athletes and video producers love its cameras and video-based experiences. Based in San Francisco, California, Always Evolving’s products and services are quickly becoming the only choice for action camera, drone and POV camera buyers and video producers everywhere.
About AIM Autosport
Established in 1995, AIM Autosport is a Canadian sports team operating multi-car teams in professional sportscar racing. AIM’s success has been achieved through the dedication of its employees and the continuous support of the team’s commercial and technical partners. Away from the track, AIM Autosport serves the needs of the racing community with a purpose-built preparation shop situated in the Toronto suburb of Woodbridge, Ontario.
About Nissan GT Academy
GT Academy is a competition created by Nissan and PlayStation® that unites the worlds of virtual and real-life racing to make the dreams of aspiring race drivers become a reality. The competition, which originally launched in Europe in 2008, finds the best Gran Turismo® players from across the participating countries by testing their skills in an online gaming qualification process. They will then compete against each other in live National Finals before the winners from each final switch to driving real Nissan cars at the now-famous Silverstone “Race Camp.”
The overall winner of GT Academy is then trained in the multiple areas required to become a professional racing driver, if the winner makes the grade they will compete in the Dubai 24 Hour race for Nissan and have the chance to be considered for a future career with Nissan as a “NISMO Athlete.”
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