MSR Indy Program Moving Forward Just over one month ago at the Izod IndyCar Series season-finale, Michael Shank announced the formation of MSR Indy as the former racer set a course for a 2012 Izod IndyCar Series season campaign.
The race-winning team owner has joined forces with Columbus-area businessman Brian Bailey and NASCAR Sprint Cup driver AJ Allmendinger as principal partners in the program, which will be based in the 20,000 square foot Michael Shank Racing shop outside of Columbus, Ohio. The program will run in parallel with Michael Shank Racing’s GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series effort.
Looking forward, the Izod IndyCar Series community has a significant date marked on the calendar as the initial run of 2012 Dallara IndyCar chassis is due to be delivered on December 15. MSR Indy is one of the teams set to take delivery of the new machine, which will proudly carry the DW12 nomenclature in honor of Indianapolis 500 Champion Dan Wheldon.
With the current off-season set to be one of the most dynamic in recent history, Shank is happy to have started early on preparations for 2012 as he grows his operation to meet the demands of a results-ready IndyCar team. Bolstering his existing operation with the physical infrastructure required to run a full-season IndyCar program--everything from transporters to scooters to pit equipment--Shank is carefully developing his plans for 2012 as the former open-wheel driver targets a strong first foray in IndyCar competition.
To reach the top step requires more than just equipment though, and since announcing the program, Shank has been flooded with interest from a wide scope of potential team personnel as he scales up to meet the needs of the new program.
“The response has been pretty overwhelming,” said Shank. “We’ve had conversations with people at every level of the program, drivers to mechanics to folks on the commercial side of things. We know what we have already in house and what areas where we need to grow, so it is good to have some options to bring the right people in to this program. There are some segments of our team that we have not moved forward on. This is a one-car operation and everything is going to be focused on our driver and what they are looking for, so we’ve not yet locked in some positions on the engineering side of the program to keep ourselves flexible for what our driver is going to need.”
Shank and Bailey recently visited the Dallara headquarters in Indianapolis, seeing the DW12 in person as well as touring the sprawling soon-to-open Dallara facility located in Speedway, just down the road from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“It was great to get in there and see the car in the flesh,” said Shank. “My guys have already been getting up to speed on the car as much as possible before we take delivery, working with Dallara to know the systems and procedures that this car will need to run well. Of course, there is going to be nothing better than having it in the shop and getting to work on it and everyone is counting down to that day.”
The final 2012 IndyCar season schedule has not yet been announced, but that has not hindered preparations for the team as everything continues to move forward at a rapid pace.
The Ohio-based team owner is also keeping tabs on preparations on the GRAND-AM side of the operation, which will open the year with the 50th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
“We went testing this week at Daytona, just focusing on some mechanical developments to the car with John (Pew) and Ozz (Negri) before we move over to the new Riley body style. The Rolex 24 is going to be huge for us again, and hopefully we can start 2012 off right with a big result at Daytona and we are doing everything we can to be ready to do exactly that.”
Until then, the clock will keep ticking, and Shank will keep racing ahead.