Michael Shank Racing Post-Homestead news and notes Reynoldsburg, OH (10 March 05)--After scoring third on the grid and bolting to the front to take the lead for the first time in the 2005 season, the Grand Prix of Miami didn't offer the result...
Michael Shank Racing Post-Homestead news and notes
Reynoldsburg, OH (10 March 05)--After scoring third on the grid and bolting to the front to take the lead for the first time in the 2005 season, the Grand Prix of Miami didn't offer the result Michael Shank Racing was looking for, but the team knows it has what it takes to lead in the Rolex Sports Car Series, and is eager to get to the next race at California Speedway in just under a months time.
The team has returned home to Reynoldsburg, Ohio, to prepare for the next race, and there is a lot of activity taking place in the shop.
New partnerships moving team forward
Mike Shank has known for some time that his team has had what it takes to be up front, and now partners like Graydon Elliot Capitol are helping them show it to the rest of the world. The firm, recently recognized as 'Best New Business of the Year,' has expanded in less then two years from a two-employee organization to having three offices across Canada and thirty employees. The investment services firm plans on continuing its rapid development plans which includes expansion into the US and sees its relationship with Michael Shank Racing and Grand American racing as an avenue to create new opportunities for the future.
"It was great to see the car up front last week in Homestead. What impresses me is the persistence, energy and skill level of this team and we are looking forward to an exciting future with Mike," Graydon Elliott President & CEO Rodney Gelineau said. "It is also an integral part of our plan to expand into the US; assisting us in developing our corporate image, allowing us to network with like-minded people and building more excitement into what we do," he added.
The Rolex field has grown significantly in the last year in both car count and competitive nature, as shown this past weekend when the top twenty Daytona Prototypes were separated by just two seconds in qualifying. MSR is counting on partners like Graydon Elliot to keep the team on the sharp end of the order.
Quick Pit Work
As part of the teams adaptation from the sprint-racing format they had been so successful in before joining the Rolex Sports Car Series, the MSR team has taken on the new and important role of performing pit stops, and have proven to be among the quickest over the wall, often gaining crucial positions during the stops, and quickly diagnosing any problems that come up with the car during the race.
It's not just the crew that has to be fast, either, as drivers Mike Borkowski and Paul Mears Jr. have also continued to practice and improve the all-important driver changes that are part of what makes Rolex racing so unique.
Working toward second car
The team is working to grow their Rolex program, and team owner Mike Shank has been hard at work with the goal of adding a second car to the team.
"This series is where we want to be, and adding a second car is definitely something I am working on," said Shank. "It has to be the right kind of program, though- there isn't any point in just putting a car out there, if it cant be properly prepared, so we are working to find the right opportunity, and hoping that something will develop as early as this season."
Engineers explore every possibility
One of the main attractions to the Rolex category for Shank was that the rules reward those who can find the most speed out of the closely-matched Daytona Prototype cars. MSR lead engineer Dale Wise and Dave Kanning spend hours in preparation for each race, not only looking for the optimum set-ups for their car, but also exploring every possibility for a race to get the best pit strategy out of any given scenario.
Eye on the track
Experienced team manager Thomas Knapp, who spotted for the Michael Shank Racing drivers during the Rolex 24 at Daytona, took a break from his duties in the Infiniti Pro Series running the team for driver PJ Chessen, to return to the spotters stand high above Homestead and help Borkowski and Mears find their best way through the dense traffic on the short infield road course.
"It's a big help having him on the radio," said Mears. "He calls all our race starts and restarts, and that can turn into a big advantage. He also keeps me focused in the car-how to get the most out of the car and myself, even late into a stint. He's very calm on the radio, so that helps me and even the guys in the pits keep calm as a race plays out.
Oswaldo Negri spent time with the MSR team during the Homestead event. The Brazilian hotshoe, who won the racesite.com "Rising Star" award for his performance with Michael Shank Racing during the 2004 season, helped the team during the weekend, watching from out on the track at the corners as the team paid close attention to details throughout the weekend and talking about what he saw out there with the drivers to help the team continue to improve during the weekend.
Oz tested both the Spirit of Daytona and Suntrust Racing cars at Daytona in January, and is working to find his way back into the series on a regular basis soon.
Michael Shank Racing was formed in 1989 when Michael Shank first began driving racing cars professionally, taking the award as SCCA-Ohio Valley Region's Novice Driver of the Year. Shank retired from the cockpit in 1997 after moving up the motor sports ladder to focus his efforts on running the team, which quickly found success in the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship, with several race wins leading Shank to be named as Team Owner of the Year twice in four years. MSR has campaigned drivers including Johnny Rutherford Jr., Kenny Wilden, and 2001 and 2002 Indy Racing League champion Sam Hornish, Jr.