RETRO: Shank’s breakthrough 2012 Rolex 24 win

RETRO: Shank’s breakthrough 2012 Rolex 24 win

IMSA

RETRO: Shank’s breakthrough 2012 Rolex 24 win

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At the time it happened, Mike and Mary Beth Shank didn’t know how much their breakthrough win at the 2012 Rolex 24 At Daytona would mean to their modest team.

Outfitted with Riley Technologies’ newest Daytona Prototype chassis and bodywork, powered by a stout 5.0-liter Ford V8, MSR’s No. 60 entry had great potential at a race where the Ohio-based team had come close to victory and been met with crushing defeats.

Entering the new Grand-Am Rolex Series season against the likes of Chip Ganassi Racing, Action Express Racing, SunTrust Racing — forerunner to today’s Wayne Taylor Racing — and other formidable DP teams, MSR was by no means a pre-race favorite.

But that’s where underdogs love to live and where upsets are made. Armed with close friends and former Champ Car teammates AJ Allmendinger and Justin Wilson, along with the massively respected veteran Ozz Negri and skilled Pro-Am driver John Pew, the No. 60 emerged as a real challenger, and in the end, the most memorable aspect of the race took place in the closing hours on Sunday.

In an identical Riley-Ford, Starworks Motorsport’s No. 8 entry, with Le Mans legend Allan McNish strapped in as the closer, traded hits, hip-checks, and torrid attacks with Allmendinger to settle the win.

The victory changed everything for the Shanks. A stronger relationship with Ford was forged, and before long Honda would come calling to engage MSR as a factory partner, and by 2021, the team would add its second great racing achievement by winning the Indianapolis 500. Every step of progress and growth ties back directly to the 2012 Rolex win.

Shank, Negri, the late Wilson’s younger brother Stefan Wilson, and Allmendinger joined us for a look back and some storytelling about this pivotal event in a new podcast to celebrate the 10th anniversary where brotherhood and sisterhood reigned supreme.

“Mike had said to me prior to [2012], ‘Man, you deserve to win this race. If Chip [Ganassi] asked me about you, or teams ask me if you want to go drive for one of them, I completely understand,’” Allmendinger reveals. “I was like, ‘You know, f*** off, Mike. We’re gonna win or die together trying to win this race. I won’t quit you, man.’”

Listen to the whole podcast interview below, or click here.

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