One of the great stories to emerge during the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season will need some help to add new chapters and author a proper ending. RACER has learned Harding Steinbrenner Racing, winners of the Circuit of The Americas round with teenage phenom Colton Herta, have hit another rough patch with funding the No. 88 Honda.
Multiple sources have confirmed the team’s recent financial plight, which includes a couple of rather extraordinary shows of faith and commitment by the No. 88 crew members, some of whom have spent their own money to buy consumables — cable ties and other small items needed to assemble the car — and others who’ve paid to acquire chassis components that offer higher performance levels than stock units.
The close-knit group, banding together to keep Herta’s rookie season moving forward, have made a remarkable commitment to the HSR program, but selfless mechanics and engineers are not meant to fund the program. Although the No. 88 has worn some sponsorship in recent rounds, identifying new sponsors is believed to be necessary to safely secure the team’s ongoing participation in the series.
With eight of 17 races completed in the championship, and Round 9 due this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, the theme of a small, promising team needing financial support is a familiar one following the Indianapolis 500, where the Juncos Racing team experienced a similar situation. Noting the opportunity and value presented by Juncos and its driver Kyle Kaiser, the team secured more than two dozen sponsors for IndyCar’s biggest race.
As a race winner this season, and with the team’s direct ties to the New York Yankees through co-owner George Steinbrenner IV, HSR and the series have a next-generation talent in Herta, whose slashing driving style and boisterous personality should be an easier pitch to potential backers.