JIM MEYER, CEO OF SIRIUSXM, BECOMES CO-OWNER ALONGSIDE MIKE SHANK – TEAM REBRANDS TO MEYER SHANK RACING
As if having SiriusXM on the side of a confirmed entry for the Indy 500 isn’t enough, Michael Shank Racing had to go and bring the CEO of the whole business in as a team co-owner. From here on, MSR has become Meyer Shank Racing in both IMSA and IndyCar competition.
“Since day one of this team, it has just been my wife and I running it and I hadn’t set out to take on a partner,” said Mike Shank. “But when I met Jim, it was clear how a structure like this could help the team grow in the long term, so it began to make more and more sense.”
Despite MSR coming off the back of a successful season as the official development partner for the new Acura NSX GT3, the increasingly difficult commercial climate that pushed several teams out prior to the 2018 season was clearly a factor in the new partnership: “having a strong financial foundation to build the organization and bringing in a top-level CEO with the kind of commercial background that Jim has is going to help us grow our depth,” added Shank.
Jim Meyer, new co-owner at Meyer Shank Racing. Image: MSR
For long-term consumer electronics exec Jim Meyer, the move into motorsports team ownership made just as much sense. “I have been thinking about a way to be involved in the sport for a long time, but didn’t have a clear path in mind until I met Mike,” he said. Meyer has attended the Indianapolis 500 regularly for decades and loves the sport as much as his new partner, adding “we share the dream of winning the Indianapolis 500 and I’m really excited to be working towards that with Mike.”
The backstory of MSR and its current success is long, twisted and includes numerous moments of borderline financial peril. However, its resilience and atmosphere has made it a fan favourite in North American paddocks, and Meyer clearly appreciated Shank’s path to where he is. “We are very different people, but he really impressed me with what he has done to build this organization and some of the risks he took along the way. I knew early on that he was the kind of person that I wanted to partner with and I really respect what he has done.”
Meyer’s impact on the commercial side of the team has not affected the competition aspects. MSR’s #93 Acura NSX GT3 will complete the full IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with Lawson Aschenbach and Justin Marks, and the sister #86 car will be driven by Katherine Legge, Trent Hindman and Álvaro Parente at Watkins Glen and Petit Le Mans to complete the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup. MSR’s part-season IndyCar campaign with Jack Harvey in the #60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda, including the 2018 Indy 500, is also confirmed.
MSR’s commercial evolution is a serious marker in the IMSA GTD field. Skyrocketing budgets, increased manufacturer support and blurred lines between Pro and Am drivers have affected the class and driven concerns from teams – some of which IMSA is targeting with “material change” reportedly coming in 2019.
With its race-winning prototype pedigree and successful partnership with Acura, MSR would be in a good position to support new manufacturers potentially tempted by IMSA’s DPi formula – much like Mazda’s recent tie-up with Joest Racing. “This is big for everyone on this team, and we’re really motivated to go out and be successful with the tools that we have moving forward,” said Shank. With experienced hands behind the scenes, MSR’s future on-track activities are going to be worth keeping an eye on.