Michael Shank is taking his racing team to the Indianapolis 500 for the first time.
The Pataskala-based team, winner of the 2012 24 Hours of Daytona and a mainstay in sports car racing for two decades, will field a car for rookie British driver Jack Harvey in the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 28, the team announced April 12. Harvey has been a standout in the Indy Lights series.
The team will operate under the umbrella of Andretti Autosport, which won the race last year with rookie Alexander Rossi.
“There is no one on this planet that respects Indianapolis Motor Speedway more than me,” Shank said. “When I walk in there, I get the goose bumps. I grew up in Gahanna listening to the 500 on the radio with my dad. We took the Indianapolis Star back then for the month of May. It’s always been my dream to have a car in that race.”
Shank wanted to enter a car in the Indianapolis 500 several years ago but was rebuffed when an engine deal could not be gained with Honda or Chevrolet. That his team now is the flagship for Honda’s new Acura NSX sports car program this season no doubt helped pave the way.
“It has been nearly 25 years since my wife, Marybeth, and I started this race team, so to have this opportunity finally come together — it is huge for us,” Shank said. “We have been working to find a way to race in the Indianapolis 500 for years, and I’m grateful that our relationships have developed to put us in this position.
“Ever since we joined the Honda family, we’ve been able to continue to grow as a team and this is a great example of that. We are very excited to be working with the defending champions, and Jack (Harvey) is a very promising talent so we are thrilled to have this opportunity.”
Andretti Autosport, owned by former IndyCar champion Michael Andretti, will have six drivers in the race, including two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso, who will skip an F1 race at Monaco to take part. Besides him and Harvey, the other drivers will be the team’s IndyCar regulars: Rossi, Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Takuma Sato.
Shank had been gearing up to run driver Stefan Wilson, younger brother of the late driver Justin Wilson, in this year’s 500. But when Andretti, which already had Harvey, gained the Alonso deal, he asked Shank to run Harvey instead.