This proud Texan has faced opponents in the American Le Mans Series, Grand-Am (now WeatherTech SportsCar Championship) and the GT4 America Series among others. This year’s Hankook 24H COTA USA though marks both Ross Smith’s debut in the 24H SERIES powered by Hankook and at the Circuit of the Americas. And both he, and Racers Edge Motorsport, are bringing a very special model to celebrate…
Ross, you’re entering your first Hankook 24H COTA USA in November. What expectations do you have ahead of the race itself?
“My expectations are pretty high. It's great to see Maxwell Paper Products joining together with Racers Edge Motorsports once again as we have had a long history together that’s created quite a bond! Racers Edge Motorsports has always delivered top-notch contending racecars over the years I have driven with them, and that creates enormous boosts of confidence. As a team I believe we have what it takes to be competitive. We will be well prepared having a hardworking and driven crew with the help of Maxwell Paper Products on-board.”
What can you tell us about your previous experience at the Circuit of the Americas, and in terms of a racing challenge, how does it compare with other tracks you’ve driven in North America?
“I personally have never driven at the Circuit of the Americas, so I plan on getting quite a bit of simulation seat time to get used to the flow of the place. The track looks like a lot of fun and I think it's very distinct in nature. It's not very comparable to many tracks in my opinion, which gives COTA such an awesome vibe that sets it apart. On the other hand, I am very lucky to be joining Racers Edge Motorsports for this event because they won here with their GT3 program early in the year. That alone will provide me with tons of valuable data and will hopefully get me up to speed at a much quicker rate. I'm very blessed to have that in my back pocket ahead of the first Free Practice session.”
We don’t see the SIN R1 GT4 being entered in too many 24H SERIES races. What can you tell us about the car, and how much of a threat do you feel it will be in the GT4 class?
“It is a bit odd that we will have the only SIN R1 GT4 entered in the race but I like that! I believe this will play a favorable team advantage against our competitors. The SIN R1 GT4 will suit this track layout very well and will have many advantages due to its unique design in comparison to some of the other manufactures. The car will get plenty of attention after we display its drivability.
“As a team, our strengths trump the weaknesses of the car but just like every car trying to complete for 24 hours, there are just some things that are out of our control. Considering what we bring to the table, it would shock me if there weren’t interested teams looking to bring more SIN R1 GT4s to fill the field in the future. Quite honestly, it already does!”
COTA was the first North American race event CREVENTIC hosted in 2017. How big of an impact does this event have on American competitors, and how much could it help encourage you to try further 24H SERIES races in Dubai and Europe?
“This race has a huge impact on American drivers. This is our home field! COTA is the most well-known track in the United States from all around the world. This race definitely impacts me quite a bit more than a lot of the field because I was born and raised right here in Texas. It's a great privilege and honor to carry that for the entire event!”
*This year’s Hankook 24H COTA USA takes place at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, on 15-16-17 November 2019. Further details available on 24hseries.com