No articles found to show on this page.
This is pretty much everything Mike Shank has worked for to date.
The veteran IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship team owner added to his growing cache of motorsports endeavors earlier this month by opening an IndyCar branch inside his burgeoning operation based out of Columbus, Ohio.
It’s not yet the full-time effort that Shank and his fans have longed for, but it’s an encouraging start with rookie Jack Harvey set to compete in at least six races, including a return for both to the Indianapolis 500.
Both Shank and Harvey made their respective debuts in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing this past May, but that came via a partnership with Andretti Autosport. After finishing 30th, Harvey went on to make two additional starts with Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports, eventually paving the way for a Schmidt-Shank team-up in 2018.
Shank has angled for an opening to join the IndyCar grid for much of the past decade but needed the “stars to align” to do so without risking financial peril. Such a scenario presented itself in the form of Harvey.
Harvey was shifted over to the Shank-Andretti team last season when F1 superstar Fernando Alonso decided to forgo the Grand Prix of Monaco in lieu of Indianapolis. Originally, Stefan Wilson was expected to drive that entry.
And now, an expected one-off has become an extended stay for Harvey at MSR.
“Like I said, the stars really aligned for us,” Shank told Autoweek before Christmas. “It took everyone involved to make this work out. Honda (Acura) is a partner of ours on the sports car side, and we had a good experience with Sirius and AutoNation during the Indy 500.
“So we got together after the race and they said ‘how can we stayed involved’ so we started to work this out. Really, the challenge for us was finding out to provide them the right value for their effort, and figuring out the value to make it work out for us, too.”
Enter Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson.
Schmidt-Peterson had already confirmed Robert Wickens and James Hinchcliffe for the 2018 season but wanted a third car for data-sharing purposes. That made Shank and Harvey an ideal source to work out a partnership for next season.
“That was a critical conversation for us,” Schmidt said. “And it all happened at the perfect time.”
Much like at Indianapolis last May, Shank will own the entry with his IMSA team servicing it during the course of the season. However, Shank and Schmidt-Peterson will share information, effectively acting as a three-car team for the six to eight races the No. 60 hits the track.
There will be two SPM crewmembers that will serve as de facto liaisons between the two.
This sort of arrangement is especially necessary with the debuting universal aero kit providing much to learn over the offseason and during the course of the campaign. The bodywork components are yet another way the stars aligned to allow Shank to make the grid.
“Even though it’s a quote new car, there are some old tricks that still work with it,” Shank said. “That’s why it was so important to work alongside an established team.”
The next step for Shank IndyCar is to grow into a full-fledged, full-time team, but the former racer-turned-driver wants to remain methodical. He once put his house up for business collateral, and that’s a risk he will never make for his team again.
The big risk paid off, sending him across the globe from Indianapolis to Le Mans.
“For me, personally, I just want to grow naturally,” Shank said. “We made it to Indianapolis last year and I’m proud of what we accomplished. But we want to do better than 30th.
“That’s the way I try to look at this. If more opportunities come from that, then we’ll get to work on trying to improve from this year.”