Team will skip three races, test at new tracks for strong finish to inaugural season (Indianapolis, IN) Heritage Motorsports, an INDY Racing League team that was formed in January 2001, will redirect its efforts and focus on testing to ensure ...
Team will skip three races, test at new tracks for strong finish to inaugural season
(Indianapolis, IN) Heritage Motorsports, an INDY Racing League team that was formed in January 2001, will redirect its efforts and focus on testing to ensure strong finishes at selected races this season. The team's owners believe this move will also help the team prepare for the 2002 season and achieve its long-term goals. Heritage Motorsports is planning to compete in the IRL events in Kentucky, Chicago and Texas.
"This team has a lot of potential for the future and we need to focus on making ourselves better," Jim Rathmann, Jr., co-owner of Heritage Motorsports said. "Because we only formed this team in January, we haven't had the time, personnel, or equipment to test properly and it has hurt us in the last few races. We are going to re-organize the team and refocus our efforts because we are committed to the IRL for the long-term and this is the right move to make at this time.
"We do not want to race just to race. We are building a racing organization that operates with sound business principles, and in any new business you have to make adjustments to achieve your long-term goals. We want to win the Indianapolis 500 and the series championship. We want to build the model open-wheel organization that corporate America can trust and use as a sales and marketing tool. And we want racing fans to be excited by what we are doing. Anything less than that is unacceptable."
Rathmann also said the team will make some changes in personnel, and increase the efforts to find a major sponsor.
"Starting this team so late really affected our search for sponsorship," he said. "Right now, it's difficult to find the right type of company that wants to invest in motorsports, and that is not unique to open-wheel racing. NASCAR sponsorships have leveled off, and in fact several teams have lost sponsors recently. The high cost of advertising on a NASCAR television broadcast is also causing some changes in corporate spending."
We know some companies are starting to see the appeal of the IRL. With the current soft economy affecting corporate budgets, companies can participate in our series for a lot less than they can in NASCAR or CART."
The team is looking to regain the momentum they had at the beginning of the season. Heritage Motorsports qualified third, first and second in the first three races, and the team finished no lower than seventh in each race. The team's driver, Jeff Ward, was fourth in series points going into the Indianapolis 500.
After qualifying two cars for Indy, the team began to experience their first dealings of bad luck. Since mechanical failures caused the team to finish 24th and 29th at Indy, Heritage Motorsports has not been able to duplicate their early season success. The team is currently seventh in points.
"The people in this organization have never settled for average," Rathmann said. "We are devoted to the sport of auto racing, and we're going to take the time now to do what is best for the team in the long run."