Henry Malukas, the father of NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver David Malukas and the owner of HMD Motorsports’ Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires program, was asked about how his growing organization has “eased into” U.S. open-wheel racing.
Malukas, whose team fielded six full-time cars in 2022, responded by saying “we’re having a good time.”
His busy general manager seemed amused by the comment.
“Some of us are,” Mike Maurini said, smiling.
Fact is, Malukas, Maurini and the staff at HMD Motorsports have not only assembled a championship-winning Indy Lights organization, they are primed for even more growth, which is remarkable given their timeline. In 2019, HMD was a two-car team with the younger Malukas and Toby Sowery as drivers. The crew new to the series was comprised largely of staffers experienced only in karting.
HMD did not race in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and in 2021 it fielded four cars in Indy Lights in addition to four cars in the FR Americas series.
This year, nine drivers rotated through the team’s six cars, with Linus Lundqvist winning HMD’s first Indy Lights driver’s championship after the team took the overall title the year prior with Malukas and Lundqvist finishing second and third, respectively, with 10 combined race wins.
This year, three drivers won Indy Lights races for HMD: Lundqvist won five with six poles, and Danial Frost and Benjamin Pedersen scored one race win each. In June, the trio was first, second and fourth in the standings.
Lundqvist and HMD will be honored for their championship Saturday night during the Victory Lap Celebration at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.
HMD’s track record and momentum are so strong, the team has announced it will grow to eight Indy Lights cars in 2023.
“We’ve had everything done (on those eight) for a month,” Maurini said. “And we’ve got four (programs) already signed for 2024.”
HMD’s growth is evident off the track, too. The team based in Brownsburg, Indiana, works out of a shop of 6,500 square feet. The shop is so small that Maurini felt the need to give up his office for the extra engineers; he does most of his work in coffee shops in the community. But this offseason, an existing property encompassing 70,000 square feet is being converted into a race shop, giving everyone the space to work as well as they race.
Maurini said the plan is to have Indy Lights’ largest team work as a pair of four-car outfits, with team manager A.J. Smith, a former soldier, overseeing a pair of assistant team managers. At races, the four transporters will be parked side by side, as the big teams in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES do, with office space in the middle used for the shared services.
Maurini said having eight cars isn’t that much of an undertaking once the infrastructure is in place, which it is.
“It’s done very carefully and in a very structured way, but having four (cars) is just as much work as having six,” he said, noting each transporter carries two cars to events. “Oh, you have a few more flights and hotel rooms, but when the team owner owns a trucking company, it helps.”
The first of HMD’s 2023 driver confirmations came Thursday. Josh Green, a 19-year-old driver from Mount Kisco, New York, spent the recently completed season in Indy Pro 2000, where he won a race and two poles.
HMD has shown it can help develop elite talent, too. In 2021, David Malukas won seven Indy Lights races against Kyle Kirkwood, who is arguably the most accomplished driver in Road to Indy history. Kirkwood won 10 races that year and only beat Malukas by 13 points. Lundqvist won the season’s other three races.
This year, Malukas nearly won the NTT INDYCAR SERIES race at World Wide Technology Raceway, chasing Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden to the checkered flag. Malukas finished a close second to Christian Lundgaard of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing for the Rookie of the Year Award.
Lundqvist was so strong in his second Indy Lights season – top-six finishes in each race -- that he wrapped up the series title with a race to spare. On May 13, Frost won the first race of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course doubleheader, and Pedersen won the race Sept. 4 at Portland International Raceway from the pole.
Keep in mind that Henry Malukas, through his HMD Trucking brand, is involved with Dale Coyne’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES team, which gives its Indy Lights program a tie to the sport’s highest level. Malukas is hoping Lundqvist can move up with an HMD connection.
“Well, it’s not confirmed, but that’s what we’re trying to do,” Malukas said last weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. “I don’t know about (Takuma) Sato, what his plan (is) or the future, like zero. But Dale could run three cars, obviously depending on Honda.
“I know Honda is looking for a good driver. Sitting (here) is one.”
Henry Malukas is proud of how far HMD has come since that first Indy Lights season in 2019.
“It takes time,” he said. “It takes years to get the performance up and running, and the people.
“But we did it, obviously.”