IRL: Heritage Motorsports looking towards the future

Team Hopes to Return for Sophomore Season with a Sponsor (Indianapolis, IN) -- Don't count Heritage Motorsports out too early for 2002. The owners of Heritage have been involved with open wheel racing for nearly 50 years and are not planning to...

Team Hopes to Return for Sophomore Season with a Sponsor

(Indianapolis, IN) -- Don't count Heritage Motorsports out too early for 2002. The owners of Heritage have been involved with open wheel racing for nearly 50 years and are not planning to end that legacy.

Heritage Motorsports took a chance last year and put together a top-notch team just 30 days before the INDY Racing League's 2001 season began. The team expected a major sponsor to join the team after early season success, but it never materialized. The limited budget provided by the owners caused the team's performance to level off through the final stretch of the IRL season. Heritage is not taking any chances going into 2002. They want to go in strong with the ability to win a championship or not go at all.

"Last year we created a first class organization on a limited budget," John Mecom III, co-owner of Heritage Motorsports, said. "We didn't plan to run an entire season without additional sponsorship. But after getting involved, we saw the value in running the whole season with the IRL in the possibility of gaining sponsorship. We're working on going in more prepared for 2002."

The team is still negotiating with potential sponsors for next season, but is unable to announce anything concrete. Heritage hopes to race next year, but will not commit to anything before a sponsor is signed

"Sponsorships have always been a tough sell, and with the current condition of the economy, it's even more difficult," Mecom said. "There are a lot of people interested in going racing in the IRL, but the hard part is getting them committed now. It is obvious this league is the premiere open wheel series in America and we will stay involved with the series for a long time.

"This year the IRL gave more to their fans than they've ever given in the past," Mecom added. "We were able to show people that we can put on a good show on any oval track. We were able to show that there's more to this series than the Indy 500. It was exciting racing and people were standing up and cheering at every race track we visited."

Heritage Motorsports competed in 12 of the 13 races this season, compiling seven top 10 finishes with a best showing of fourth in St. Louis. The team began their inaugural season finishing no lower than seventh in the first three races, and won their first pole in Homestead just 45 days after the team was founded. Heritage's driver, Jeff Ward, was fourth in driver points going into the Indy 500. He finished the season 1 point out of the top 10.

"We put a strong team together, quickly, last season," Mecom said. "Right now, the best business decision for the team is to sell the assets that we're not using, and whenever a deal comes together, we have the capability of putting a strong team together, again."

According to Mecom, he still maintains a good relationship with the crew and is not standing in the way of them looking for more definite opportunities for next year. But, he is not giving up either.

"I plan to stay involved with racing in 2002 in one form or another," he said. "We have several things working. We have been helping with the development of a young female driver named Danica Patrick for a few years. She has been getting a tremendous amount of experience racing in Europe, but we are looking at putting her in an American series next year. One option is the new IRL development series."

"Our ultimate goal is to have a winning IRL team and a team to help develop young drivers," said Mecom. "My family has a long history of success in racing and in assisting drivers early in their careers. I have no plans of breaking that tradition."

-HM-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Jeff Ward , Danica Patrick