Hearn Motorsports 2005 Success Fuels '06 Expansion LAS VEGAS, Nev., October 27, 2005 -- In its second year of existence, Hearn Motorsports positioned itself as one of the strongest open wheel racing, support series operations in North...
Hearn Motorsports 2005 Success Fuels '06 Expansion
LAS VEGAS, Nev., October 27, 2005 -- In its second year of existence, Hearn Motorsports positioned itself as one of the strongest open wheel racing, support series operations in North America. With a planned 2006 expansion into the Champ Car Atlantic Championship and the Formula BMW USA Series, the '05 Star Mazda Series was the perfect stage for the team owned by IndyCar and Champ Car star Richie Hearn (Henderson, Nev.) to demonstrate its strength. In the 12-race Star Mazda Series North American Championship season, Hearn Motorsports won one race, captured three podiums and added multiple top-fives and top-tens. Made even more impressive is that it was done with six different drivers in the team's primary No. 70 Hearn Motorsports Mazda Rotary-powered entry. As a testimonial to the team, of the six drivers that stepped into the No. 70-- with varying degrees of auto racing experience-- all six proved quick and competitive with Jay Howard (England) taking the team's first victory. As evidence to the coaching of Hearn and the car setup of engineering legend Darrel Soppe, the No. 70 never once had any damage as a result of an on-track altercation. The Las Vegas Motor Speedway-headquartered team was able to audition new talent while maintaining the full-season effort for Brian Thienes (Huntington Beach, Calif.) in the No. 77 Thienes Engineering/ Hearn Motorsports Star Mazda. In all, ten different drivers raced in Hearn Motorsports-prepared entries in 2005.
"This year was satisfying and frustrating at the same time," reflected Hearn. "We put in a few drivers that were very good and delivered the results but didn't have the money to continue for the full season. As a team you want to run for the championship but we were satisfied with how we dealt with new guys in the cars. As an owner I think that was valuable for us to be able to do. We were always able to put together a quick car. Brian had some good qualifying results but didn't have the race results we needed to capitalize on that. So, it was a little up and down with him as well but overall it was a good year. He closed the season with his highest finish ever and was second in the Expert Championship."
2005 success spread from the season-opener at Sebring (Fla.) Int'l Raceway to the closing event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in California. At Sebring, Hearn had his first three-car entry and a multi-race deal for driver Matt Jaskol (Las Vegas) in the No. 70. Jaskol qualified third and finished second for the team's first podium of the year. He was joined in the Sebring paddock by CR Crews III (Dallas, Tex.) who qualified fourth but fell to 11th while Thienes ran strong to jump ten spots to finish 13th. At Road Atlanta, Jaskol returned to the podium taking third. Hearn's oval experience came into to the spotlight at Pikes Peak Int'l Raceway where Thienes qualified second for the only oval on the schedule. However, confusion at post-qualifying tech inspection disqualified Thienes from his career-high qualifying effort. Michael Potekhen (Silverthorne, Col.) was a last minute replacement in the No. 77 where he ran to fourth from last on the grid. The No. 70 had sat quiet for two races before being brought to life again at Infineon Raceway where Alan Sciuto (Orange, Calif.) joined Thienes. In a double race weekend, Thienes again showed his skill by taking fifth on the grid for the second race and Sciuto took seventh at the end of race-two for his Series' high.
The second-half of the season started with another three-car stable for Hearn. Thienes was joined by Jason Bowles (Ontario, Calif.) who ran to 12th in his only appearance and Rob Walker (Upland, Calif.) began a two race commitment to the team. As it had in 2004, Mosport Int'l Raceway brought the No. 70 Hearn Mazda to center stage. This year Howard narrowly missed the pole position-- which Hearn's team had earned in '04-- as the only hiccup all weekend. He would go on to lead the most laps and set fastest lap on his way to a debut victory. The event marked the first win for the Hearn operation in Star Mazda.
The Petit Le Mans weekend at Road Atlanta bode well for the Nevada-team as it was the second race at the Georgia track this season. However, a last minute cancellation by Howard would cause several changes to for Atlanta. Mike Anderson (Anza, Calif.) would step in and swap the No. 70 for 42 finishing 11th. Thienes would take home 19th. A sixth driver would finish the season in the No. 70 as Ryan Spencer-Smith (Napa, Calif.) stepped in for his first-ever Star Mazda start with Hearn at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. He would finish 18th. Thienes closed-out his season with his career high result, ninth. The finish would lock-up second in the Expert Division of the Star Mazda Series for drivers ages 30-44.
Well known and well respected in the industry, Hearn's high visibility combined with his coaching skill and the engineering prowess demonstrated by the team, the 2006 expansion promises to provide several young drivers key stepping stones to their future.
"For 2006 and beyond, Hearn Motorsports is looking to expand and I felt that, to really do what I want to do, which is to help younger drivers move through the sport, I needed to venture into other levels. That is the reason we looked into the BMW Series. At the same time Atlantics announced its new program and I wanted to be a part of that from the beginning. It all happened at once and we have a lot to take on and we'll make it happen. The team's excited about getting started and testing. Over the next few weeks we'll be starting to evaluate drivers in both series and, hopefully, we will be able to make announcements for our programs for '06 before the new year."
Hearn anticipates entering as many as three cars in the Formula BMW USA series, two cars in the Atlantics program and running a minimum two car effort in Star Mazda. The plans will make Hearn Motorsports one of the most comprehensive racing support series operations in the country. Initially debuting Hearn Motorsports in the Star Mazda as a one car team, the six-time Indianapolis 500 starter quickly grew it to a two and then three-car operation. The move into the Champ Car Series ladder system with the Atlantic Championship and the Formula BMW Series opens several opportunities for Hearn. He will now be able to take a driver from karting through his system to an anticipated, future Champ Car all under the Hearn Motorsports banner.
For more on Hearn Motorsports please visit www.richiehearn.com.