Cusick sets sights on full-time IndyCar program

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Cusick sets sights on full-time IndyCar program

IndyCar

Cusick sets sights on full-time IndyCar program

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A lifetime of love for motor racing has inspired Don Cusick to become the NTT IndyCar Series’ newest full-time team owner. Recently retired from a long career as the founder and CEO of a medical device manufacturing company, Cusick and his wife Carolyn partnered to fund Stefan Wilson’s ride at Andretti Autosport in May’s Indy 500 (main image). They continue to work with the Briton and advisor Anders Krohn to turn Cusick Motorsports into a fixture within the IndyCar paddock.

“I want to go full-time IndyCar racing, and I have no objection to owning the complete team,” Cusick told RACER. “But as Anders and Stefan so wisely pointed out, in order to really be successful, you’ve got to associate with a solid team when you’re starting out. And that’s what’s we’re working on first.”

The group began by looking to buy Carlin Racing’s IndyCar assets to start their own team. But with a new hybrid engine package coming in 2023 and significant changes – and costs – involved with converting the current Dallara DW12s into race-ready cars for the upcoming 2.4-liter twin-turbo V6 formula, the decision was made to wait on forming a standalone team in favor of funding an entry at an established program. Ongoing talks are taking place with a number of teams.

“We want to find a team that wants to be a part of what we were doing, run with them probably through 2023, then look at where the engine manufacturer situation is at, if Toyota’s in, what the new chassis is all about, and then look at 2024 to maybe buy the cars and everything to start out on our own,” Cusick said.

“I don’t know what 2023 is going to bring; I don’t think anybody exactly does right now. But we want to see one year of that develop before we commit to buying the cars and going off on our own, developing a relationship with engineers and all the other important people and bits and pieces to put a team of our own together. There’s a lot for me to learn, and when you’re talking about the dollars we’re contemplating spending, you don’t want to rush in and not make the show. So we want to do it right, we want to do it carefully, and we aren’t rushing to do it all ourselves.”

Thanks to Cusick’s successful career as a business owner, he was able to fund Wilson’s Indy 500 effort and intends to do the same while getting Cusick Motorsports up and running for the first few seasons. Bringing in other companies to support the program, as the group did in May with LOHLA SPORT, is another priority.

“I’m willing to bankroll it for good people that that understand the value of also contributing what they can,” he said. “And the best example I can give you is I wrote a check for Andretti to run us, but Stefan and Anders raised a lot on their own to pay for hospitality and all the other great stuff that made the Indy 500 absolutely amazing for me.

“It’s also fun for me to interact with other businesspeople who have similar interests and offer them something maybe just a little bit different than what everybody else is doing. The best example I could give you is we met the owner of Sierra Pacific Windows who was a co-sponsor. And so we’ve bought all of our windows through them for property remodels. So we were able to support them, they supported us, and that business relationship has continued. Same thing with Expedia VIP, LOHLA SPORT, and the rest who were with us. And so, year one, we were really successful. I’m hoping to be even more so next year.”

Cusick’s introduction to the Indy 500 came as a teenager in the late 1960s and he soon turned to driving on bullrings in his native southern California, starting in quarter midgets and moving up to full midgets before running out of money to continue his dream of becoming an IndyCar racer.

Now in his mid-60s, Cusick is finding fulfillment in the ownership side of the sport and he has aspirations of developing Cusick Motorsports into a two-car IndyCar program and, like many IndyCar team owners, possibly branching out into IMSA’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in the coming years.

“I would love to have Stefan and Anders stick around for the long term and and help us run a whole program maybe after Stefan is done with IndyCar driving,” he said. “Looking out over the next five years, we’d like to have Stefan being the lead driver and we’ve got a couple of youngsters that have their eye on IndyCar that we’re wanting to develop. One of them is Courtney Crone who coincidentally, who is racing in LMP3.

“And we’re looking at GTD, but the love is really at the IndyCar level. I’m living the dream. This is just unbelievably fun and engaging. I’m hooked and my wife’s hooked. I’m excited about it and supporting it. And there’s tremendous interest in IndyCar. Two, three years ago, they could barely field 33 cars for the Indy 500 race, and today, there’s 35, 36 cars and the series is growing. So I think we’re headed in the right direction.”

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