Michael Shank has gone from a team owner that rented all of his pit equipment just to field a car in his first Indianapolis 500 in 2017 to overseeing a growing operation that is expanding to two cars in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES in 2021.
It’s quite an impressive story of growth that includes a former race driver that made one INDYCAR start in 1997, the pioneer of satellite radio and a dream that big things can come from humble beginnings.
Shank, team partner Jim Meyer and driver Jack Harvey have slowly built a team from an Indy 500-only effort in 2017 to six races in 2018, 10 races in 2019 and full time in 2020. The team will continue in 2021 its engineering partnership with Andretti Autosport, a valuable alliance with the powerhouse Honda team.
The next step in the team’s impressive growth is the addition of three-time Indianapolis 500 winning driver Helio Castroneves in 2021 in a second car that will compete in six events.
A new partner, Formula One owner Liberty Media, invested in Shank’s team in 2020. On Sept. 29, ground was broken for a spectacular new 43,000-square-foot race shop in Pataskala, Ohio.
Shank is dedicating the new facility to his late father, Al, who will have his initials set above the entrance.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for my father,” Shank said at the groundbreaking ceremony. “My dad taught me everything about racing, about mechanics, and even though I didn’t realize it at the time, about life. We lost him 31 years ago, and I want to walk under the “AHS” initials every time I come into work.”
This major commitment sends a clear message that this team is serious about its future in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.
“We wouldn't be building that if we weren't in this for the long term,” Meyer said.
Combine the growing NTT INDYCAR SERIES team with Shank’s IMSA program that won its second straight GTD championship Saturday night in the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring with the Acura NSX GT3. Next season, Meyer Shank Racing moves up to the Acura DPi program.
Shank and Meyer are building a motorsports powerhouse just outside of Columbus, Ohio and it has given the NTT INDYCAR SERIES another impressive operation on a growing grid of race cars.
“I put a lot of this on Jim Meyer, to be honest with you,” Shank said. “His passion for INDYCAR racing and his network and his world has really pushed the INDYCAR program over the top. Plus, on top of that, I've learned a ton on contractual law and how to do deals. He deals with some of the biggest celebrities in the world, and just getting a nugget of that knowledge is really helpful for me.”
Meyer retires Dec. 31 as CEO of SiriusXM satellite radio. It’s a role he’s held since 2012. During his helm, satellite radio subscribers have grown to record levels of 34.3 million, as of June 30. Following the completion of the pending Stitcher transaction, SiriusXM will reach 150 million listeners across its combined properties.
Meyer’s business acumen has played a major role in helping Meyer Shank Racing expand its racing efforts. Having the money behind a program is important for it to succeed.
“It taught me early on in this, passion can get ahead of your wallet if you're not careful because we're very competitive,” Meyer said. “As participants in this sport and owners, drivers, team members, we sometimes forget how good the racing in INDYCAR is. In my opinion it's the best in the world, and I realize my partners own F1. I think it's the most competitive and best racing in the world.
“There's no reason why we can't win every week.”
Meyer Shank Racing exudes confidence, but it also operates with extreme prudence and deliberation.
“Mike has taught me is not to let your passion get ahead of your plan, so we're very careful,” Meyer said. “We are not going to go any faster than we have the proper amount of funding. We could put the funding together now to expand, but we want to expand correctly and do it the way that we have with Jack and continue on that way.
“It's going to be all about how we build, I call it the book, going forward for a commitment of the money to be able to do this correctly, but I'm confident we'll do that.”
Said Shank: “There are just so many positive things that have happened since Jim and I came together. I don't even know what to say. But this is just a natural evolution.”