What Off-Season? Mike Shank Full Speed Ahead for GRAND-AM and IndyCar Campaigns
Big week as team takes delivery of new Riley and Dallara machines
15 December 2011--While the calendar might show there are still some 44 days until the green flag flies for the 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona, and a further two months until the start of the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season, it is already 2012 for team owner Mike Shank. Shank, who confirmed plans this week for a full-season 2012 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series campaign with stand-out pairing John Pew and Ozz Negri, has a very full calendar as he prepares for what promises to be a very busy 2012.
Shank has committed to launching an IZOD IndyCar Series effort in 2012 in partnership with NASCAR racer AJ Allmendinger and Columbus businessman Brian Bailey, and will manage the program in parallel with his GRAND-AM effort. Both sides of the effort are set to see significant benchmarks this week as the team eagerly greets two new cars to the squad’s 20,000 square foot bespoke shop just outside of Columbus.
First up is the December 15th delivery of the all-new Dallara DW12 IndyCar in Indianapolis. And there is another big date set on the GRAND-AM side of the calendar this week, as Shank’s group has been selected to be the first team to take delivery of the first all-new third generation Daytona Prototype from Riley Technologies. The team will pick the car up in Mooresville, NC and immediately head south to the World Center of Racing to put the car through its initial shake down test at Daytona International Speedway on December 19th. From there, the team will return to Charlotte to see the Riley DP3 undergo testing at Windshear under the auspices of GRAND-AM as the new machine is set to join the fray of new DPG3 machines as well as contest with the well-developed DPG2 entries.
After the Windshear test, the GRAND-AM side of the program will immediately head back to the team’s shop to begin preparations for the first official test of the 2012 season, the Roar Before the 24 at Daytona on January 6-8.
Adding yet another page on the notebook of to-dos for the self-made team owner is the gathering possibility of a second entry for Michael Shank Racing in the Rolex 24. Shank, who was on hand to observe the Daytona Prototype debut for Felipe Nasr as he took his first laps at DIS last week as part of his Sunoco Challenge drive, was impressed with what he saw. The 24 effort marks the ninth outing for Shank in the event, and Shank knows that it takes the right mix of speed and experience to find the way to the finish line and has that firmly in mind as he works on plans for bringing the famed No. 6 Ford-Riley back to the track.
Also adding to Shank’s frequent flier status has been the ongoing travel to inspect and purchase the various pit equipment that will be needed as the team grows to support the parallel programs. Despite the huge effort, or maybe because of it, Shank is relishing the opportunity ahead of him and his team.
“It has been really very busy, but I wouldn’t trade this for anything,” said Shank. “This is a really exciting time for me, my wife and this company. Delivering a strong on-track product in two different series is a big undertaking, but we’ve long planned for this and right now we are just executing on those plans. What we do right now will pay dividends with performance this summer and we know what we need to have in place to be effective and smart with the available resources. There is a lot going on on every front with getting the new cars, working on the commercial side of the IndyCar program, developing the second entry for the 24, and also a lot of things going on in the background. My guys are very excited about getting their hands on these new cars and getting to know them and I’m really looking forward to seeing them both on track. Christmas comes early this year!”