Michael Shank Racing returns to Mid-Ohio Switch from open wheel to Rolex paying dividends for Columbus team Columbus, OH(4 August 2004)-- The EMCO Gears Mid-Ohio Road Racing Classic marks the return of Michael Shank Racing to the legendary track...
Michael Shank Racing returns to Mid-Ohio
Switch from open wheel to Rolex paying dividends for Columbus team
Columbus, OH(4 August 2004)-- The EMCO Gears Mid-Ohio Road Racing Classic marks the return of Michael Shank Racing to the legendary track as the Columbus-based team has made the transition from campaigning open-wheel Atlantic cars to contesting the Rolex Sports Car Series with drivers Oswaldo Negri and Burt Frisselle.
Award winning team owner Mike Shank, who grew up in the Columbus area, made the bold decision in the off-season to buy a Daytona Prototype race car and change gears from the sprint racing format of Atlantic competition to the endurance racing that is the hallmark of the Rolex series, and the decision has paid off, as the team has been in the top five in points the whole season despite working with a limited budget, and competing against teams that have years of experience in this format of racing.
"It was a big risk I took with my wife when we decided to race here in Rolex, but we are really happy we did," said Shank. "We feel that we can win any race we enter, and that is saying a lot, as the competition here is fierce, and there are some big-budget teams with a lot of experience, so we are proud of how quickly we have been able to be competitive."
The team's first Grand American race was the famed Rolex 24 at Daytona, where the team led the first lap of Rolex competition for engine supplier Lexus and came home fourth in class after fighting back through the night when mechanical problems caused by the non stop rain crept up early in the event.
The team kept the momentum up through the season, and when drivers Burt Frisselle of Hawaii and Oswaldo Negri of Miami joined the squad, was fast right away, netting a podium finish at the Homestead Miami Speedway in just the teams second Rolex race ever, an impressive entry into the series for the pairing.
A June test at the track for the MSR squad has the team looking to return to the podium once again, and they are hoping to make the most of their "home field advantage" at Mid-Ohio.
"Mid-Ohio is a fantastic track, and since we had the chance to test here earlier in the summer, we are looking for a good result here," Shank said. "It's so special to be able to actually go home each night during the race, and to race in front of so many friends and family is really a special opportunity, so we can't wait to go racing."
The drivers are also looking forward to the challenge of the twisty natural road course.
"This is one of the most fun tracks I have ever raced on," said Burt Frisselle, who is one of the youngest drivers in Rolex competition. "I raced here last year with Skip Barber, and I had a grin inside my helmet the whole time, so it is going to be even more fun in this car, with all our Lexus horsepower down that backstretch, its going to be a blast."
Based in Columbus, Ohio, MSR 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 motorsports 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.
MSR is making the transition to the Rolex Series from open-wheel competition for the 2004 season in the Rolex Sports Car Series, campaigning a Lexus-powered Doran JE4.