Veteran open-wheel and sportscar entrant Michael Shank Racing could join the entry list for the 100th Indy 500. The Ohio-based team has received multiple inquiries from drivers interested in having the Honda-affiliated IMSA entrant put together a program for the month of May, and Shank has also been contacted by a few Indy-only entrants seeking a quality team capable of running on their behalf.
“I’ll admit that I was surprised about how many folks have called me about the 500,” Shank told RACER. “We have a gap in the IMSA schedule, but of course we’ll have a lot of resources dedicated to testing in Europe for the 24 (Hours of Le Mans) with John Pew and Ozz Negri. So it would take some juggling, but we’ve looked at it pretty closely and it is certainly something we could manage.”
As a driver, Shank reached the Indy Racing League in 1997, finishing 13th at Las Vegas before turning his attention to team ownership in the forerunner to today’s Mazda Road to Indy. MSR graduated to sportscar racing and became a fixture in the Grand-Am Rolex Series, where the team earned the series’ biggest prize by winning the 2012 Rolex 24 at Daytona.
With the Verizon IndyCar Series switching to a new chassis and engine formula in 2012, Shank purchased a Dallara DW12 and pursued an engine lease agreement with Chevy and Honda. The uncompetitive Lotus engine proved to be his only option, however, leading Shank to abandon his Indy 500 plans and sell the DW12, yet his dreams of taking part in the race have never diminished.
MSR is also set to race at Le Mans for the first time with a Honda-powered Ligier JS P2 prototype, and with IMSA’s Rolex 24 at Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring already in the books for MSR in 2016, the chance of adding the Indy 500 to their dream season is clearly worth pursuing.
“Indianapolis and the 500, especially the 100th, is a big deal to me,” said Shank. “With us having won the 50th Rolex 24, the 100th Indianapolis 500 would be another great event to be a part of.
“With our Le Mans 24 plans, the 500 wasn’t really on our target list as something to go out and try to put together. But when the phone started to ring, I was certainly at least listening to see what kind of programs needed help. Those decisions pretty much all need to be made now, so we will see what happens.”
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