California native Bryan Heitkotter starts the 2023 season with TechSport Racing in the Pirelli GT4 America series alongside co-driver Tyler Stone in the Nissan Z GT4. Year one for the pair comes with a tall order of development and racing.
Heitkotter is well known as both an e-racer and a road racer. However, he came to e-racing before the height of the COVID-19 pandemic made it a necessity, and a generation of e-racers made it a staple of the sport. Heitkotter saw the opportunity in 2011 to turn his hobby of autocross events and enjoyment of racing games into something more serious through a promotion.
Nissan paired with PlayStation to create what was then called a virtual-to-reality concept with a GT Academy based on the Gran Turismo platform. The competition winner would get a real-life shot in a race car. The Nissan PlayStation program was one of the first to turn untapped and underfunded e-racers into IRL racing drivers.
Heitkotter went on to win the 2011 competition and continues his affinity with Nissans to this day.
“I enjoyed several good years with Nissan after it all,” Heitkotter said. “While our formal
the relationship ended after the 2016 season, I continued to enjoy amateur motorsport as a hobby after that. During the pandemic lockdown when the world was watching sim racing, I raced in numerous SRO esports events driving a virtual Nissan GT-R GT3 and had a lot of success. This helped put me back on the map, and that's when I started working with Chris Forsberg, who, of course, has been drifting and winning in Nissans for a long time.”
The relationship with Forsberg brought forward a mutual learning opportunity and a relationship with TechSport.
“I've been learning a lot about the drift world, and he has been learning more about grip racing,” Heitkotter said. “Working with him led to me being out there among the broader Nissan racing world and ultimately now here in SRO GT4 America.
“TechSport, of course, has a lot of Z knowledge and experience, and we had talked about working together in the past, but now it's a reality. It’s been quite a journey and it's great to be back racing at this level. It's amazing how twice now, sim racing success has led to road racing for me.”
What fans will see executed in the TechSport Nissan comes from years of experience. Heitkotter’s background in road racing began as a hobby spurred out of a long-time love. In college, he started an autocross habit that proved to himself that he had a bit of talent to go along with his interest in cars and racing. The autocross events turned into track days and eventually gave way to national events. Heitkotter won his first attempt at autocross nationals.
“Racing has always been a hobby in whatever form I could afford,” Heitkotter said. “When I was growing up, sim racing was all I had before force feedback steering wheels even existed for home use. When I turned 18, I started autocross and doing the occasional track day in my street car. Still, it wasn't until I was 30 that I could get into wheel-to-wheel racing after winning the Nissan GT Academy virtual-to-reality competition.”
The 2023 season begins on Thursday, March 30, with the practice for the Pirelli GT4 America series. Two qualifying sessions take place Saturday, April 1, before an autograph session at 2 p.m. PT, followed by Race One at 4:50 p.m. Race Two brings the weekend to an end when the green flag falls at 10:55 p.m. Fans can watch the race live on the GT World YouTube page or live by purchasing tickets here.