Heitkotter’s passion for driving grew with age, as he honed his driving ability on video games, and then at 18 years old, took to the track to compete in auto cross events. He would spend the next several years working up to placing in the SCCA Solo Nationals, eventually nabbing Solo Autocross and ProSolo National Champion titles. To fund his racing, Heitkotter worked a job as a delivering auto parts, passing up several promotions to stay behind a steering wheel, even if that steering wheel belonged to a delivery van. In his “free time” he sharpened his skills on Gran Turismo, starting with the original GT1. Then, during the Great Recession, he was laid off from his job, and nearing 30 years of age, he saw the GT Academy as his last hope for a chance to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a professional racecar driver.
After beating out over 53,000 online competitors and finishing among the top 16 in the 2011 U.S. Finals, Heitkotter made the long journey to England's hallowed Silverstone Circuit and became the first to win the coveted Red Helmet as the U.S. GT Academy Champion in 2011. When asked how he felt the moment he crossed that finish line, he replied, “That was the paramount moment of my entire racing experience thus far because it represented the realization of my lifelong dream of becoming a professional racecar driver.”
Heitkotter has made the most of his opportunity, turning in one impressive result after another in the professional ranks, but still challenges himself, describing the 2012 season as “lots of speed, minimal luck.” Gracious about his opportunity and honored to be considered a fellow driver among his current peers, he considers capturing pole position at the Grand Am race held on the road course at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway as his greatest accomplishment so far. Future goal: moving out of sports cars and into cars with more down force, namely open-wheel racers or sports car prototypes.