MSR Indy Continues Sponsor And Driver Search

Michael Shank
Michael Shank

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

Columbus, Ohio - The smooth sweep of the second hand as the new Daytona Rolex Chronograph ticks away the time might be a welcome sight for most, but each rotation of the hand means that the 2012 IZOD IndyCar season opener moves ever closer for MSR Indy team owner Mike Shank.

Shank, whose team opened the 2012 racing season with a bang, winning the 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona with one team entry, and finishing third with the sister Daytona Prototype campaign, is working every one of the available seconds to have his IndyCar program ready to go. But the driver-turned-owner, who teamed with Penske Racing NASCAR driver AJ Allmendinger and Columbus-area businessman Brian Bailey to form MSR Indy, isn’t where he wants to be just yet.

“We’ve got the car in the shop and the people we need to go run the car, but at this point we are still working to have the full budget in place to go racing,” said Shank. “ I don’t want to be in a position to just go out and make up the numbers--we want to show up and have a competitive presence.”

Shank and Bailey participated in the 2012 State Of IndyCar meetings in Indianapolis this week, and emerged from the two-day event with an even deeper insight of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

“It’s interesting, being the new guys here and seeing how the team owners work with each other,” said Shank. “While of course everyone is very competitive and will be at each others throats once the green flag drops, we all have a common interest right now in having this new car work for everyone and continuing to grow the sport. Randy (Bernard, INDYCAR CEO) is making a lot of moves and I think there is some very serious opportunity for the series to continue to grow this year.”

The team timeline set up to take delivery of the car and commence a testing program ahead of the 2012 season had a setback as an anticipated partnership program for the MSR Indy campaign did not develop as had been intended. With the late development coming so close to the season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Pete, Shank knows the pressure is on. But the self-made team owner has long been known as a fighter and is miles away from giving up.

“My main goal is to make this thing work, and if that means working with a technical partner to make it happen or just focusing on particular races, then so be it. Obviously, there are folks out there testing right now and that is the best case scenario to be in. We’ve got a little bit bigger hill to climb at the moment, but we are not giving up by any stretch.”