Like father, like son. Or in the case of Bryan and Colton Herta this weekend, it’s father with son.
Bryan Herta, the 48-year-old Verizon IndyCar Series team co-owner and retired racer, will team with his 18-year-old son, who made his Verizon IndyCar Series debut in the 2018 season finale last month, to compete in the California 8 Hours presented by Pirelli World Challenge at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
The father-son duo, along with George Kurtz, will drive one of two Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai i30 N TCR touring cars in the endurance race. The other team car features drivers Mark Wilkins and Michael Lewis, who earned the Pirelli World Challenge TCR team championship this season.
“This is something we wanted to do since we heard about the race last spring,” said Bryan Herta, co-owner of the No. 98 Andretti Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian Honda driven this season by Marco Andretti in the Verizon IndyCar Series.
Colton Herta, who finished second in the 2018 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires championship before making his Verizon IndyCar Series introduction with Harding Racing at the INDYCAR Grand Prix of Sonoma in September, is just as eager to drive with his dad.
“Yeah, I’m super excited,” said the younger Herta, who’ll be part of a two-car, full-season operation with Harding Steinbrenner Racing in the 2019 IndyCar Series season. “It’s like a no-pressure situation, just go out and have fun. It’s nice to have that after a long eight months of driving and being very serious.”
This marks the second time that the Hertas will drive together, following the 25 Hours of Thunderhill in 2016. As half of a four-driver lineup then, they finished second in a Ginetta LMP3 prototype. It was Bryan Herta’s first race since retiring from driving competitively in 2008.
“Colton and I really had a blast the last time we raced together,” Bryan Herta said. “And to get to work alongside Mark and Michael, who have done such a great job for us this season in the Pirelli World Challenge, this should be a lot of fun. We will get to put the Hyundai i30N through its paces in a new format for us: endurance racing, with pit stops and driver changes and all that goes along with an eight-hour event.”
Even though two of Bryan Herta’s four career Indy car wins came at Laguna Seca (1998 and ’99), it’s the second-generation driver who believes he’ll be the superior driver this weekend.
“He wants to be as quick as me,” Colton Herta said of his father with a laugh, “but it just doesn’t happen anymore. Obviously, I’m at kind of a high point in my career right now, so it’s going to be hard for him to keep up.
“Yeah, he does get super competitive about it. When we get to the racetrack, he won’t say it, but he gets super competitive about it. For sure, if he gets the chance to rub any little thing in my face, he definitely will. But I’ll give it right back to him.”
Regardless of the friendly family competition, the Hertas will relish the chance to be teammates once more.
“We’re kind of on different scales now because now we’re competing against each other on INDYCAR race weekends,” Colton Herta said. “To have this chance to work together and just have fun for a weekend, we’re bringing back a lot of the guys from his INDYCAR team when he had his solo Bryan Herta Autosport, like 2011. A lot of the pit crew from his team are going to be out there to do our stops, so it’ll be a bit of nostalgia. He’s coming back, all those guys are going to come back together – they’re kind of spread out now working for different teams.
“I’m good friends with all of them as well. They remember me when I was this tall,” Colton added, holding his hand at knee-high height. “I’m really looking forward to it.”
The California 8 Hours schedule includes a test day on Thursday, practice on Friday and qualifying on Saturday. The eight-hour race starts at 12:15 p.m. ET Sunday on the same 2.238-mile permanent road course where the IndyCar Series will conduct its 2019 season finale from Sept. 20-22.