Michael Shank walked over to a shack located inside the Mid-Ohio paddock to fax in his order for a Dallara DW12 chassis and an application to field an IndyCar entry the following year. The Ohio native, there competing with his Michael Shank Racing Grand-Am Rolex Series sports car team for the 2011 event, was going all-in on open-wheel racing and had every intention of being on the IndyCar grid in 2012.
Both documents were received and successfully processed, a car was delivered to their shop an hour south of Mid-Ohio, but MSR’s expansion plans failed to move forward after the DW12 was removed from its crates.
Unable to gain access to a competitive engine to debut at the Indy 500, Shank would eventually sell the unused chassis and bury his head in sports cars. Six years later, MSR — now Meyer Shank Racing with the addition of co-owner Jim Meyer — is ready to realize Shank’s dream of competing at his home IndyCar event with its No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda driven by Jack Harvey.
“Since 1975 or 1976, I’ve been going to Mid-Ohio and from the first time I saw IndyCar racing there as a kid, I was trying to figure out a way to compete at Mid-Ohio in an Indy car,” Shank told RACER. “It didn’t work out for me with driving, but owning a team and being part of it that way means a lot. If you think about the arc of a career, this is pretty special.”
As an Ohio-based team, Shank says there’s great pride in representing the Midwest at one of IndyCar’s most iconic venues.
“It’s in everything I do, honestly,” he added. “I buy locally, look for local vendors, and I think it was how I was raised. It’s my natural yearning to shop and invest in Ohio, our home, and people recognize that. People appreciate that, I think — and I think we’re going to have a great crowd this weekend because Midwesterners like to come out and support their local events.”
With the Rahal Letterman Lanigan team serving as a longstanding Mid-Ohio favorite due to its home state roots, plus the addition of MSR and Andretti Autosport IndyCar rookie Zach Veach from Stockdale in southern Ohio, Shank expects to see plenty of support from the Buckeye State.
“And it’s growing,” he continued. “Everyone has their rightful place at the table. It’s the Rahal family, Graham Rahal as a guy who’s always up there going for wins, and Zach Veach, a young guy coming up who’s actually a generation behind Graham that’s been impressing people, and it’s just how we are when it comes to IndyCar.
“We’re all willing to do whatever we need to in order to grow the sport, grow its presence in Ohio, and just look at the fans that get behind us. There’s a lot of Ohio for people to root for this weekend.”