Meyer Shank Racing’s run at next week’s Petit Le Mans, the IMSA season season finale, will mark the team’s 351st and last sports car outing until a new program can be established.
Despite its ongoing efforts to find a new factory initiative to lead for 2024, MSR team owners Mike Shank and Jim Meyer ran out of time to conclude a deal to continue in IMSA next season. Talks will continue in the weeks and months ahead, and with a championship-winning crew to look after, MSR will continue to employ the members of its GTP program to have a turnkey operation that’s ready to act once its next IMSA relationship is forged.
The WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s 10-hour race on October 14th brings the long-anticipated end to MSR’s factory relationship with Acura, which earned three combined IMSA GTD and DPi titles and a pair of Rolex 24 At Daytona victories in partnership with the Ohio-based team since 2019.
Despite reaching the conclusion of its factory effort with Acura, MSR’s relationship with Honda in the NTT IndyCar Series is unchanged. Coming off of disappointing seasons in 2022 and 2023, MSR will focus all of its energies on improving its IndyCar fortunes with the all-new lineup of Felix Rosenqvist and Tom Blomqvist; four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves will return at the Indy 500 where MSR’s IMSA squad will run its third car.
“Making the decision to take a year away from IMSA was not an easy one by any means,” Shank said. “Our guys live and breathe this team, and have committed most of their lives to working on these cars and traveling to races – and many of them have been with us for nearly 20 years. For Jim and I, our main focus was getting our guys set and making sure they were all going to be OK, which we were able to do.
“There are a lot of projects that we have going at the shop, and of course some of the guys will be helping with our growing IndyCar program. The third Indianapolis 500 entry for Helio is a very big deal and I’m glad to have the right people in place to help us be as ready as possible for him to go get that fifth one. And then when we need to prepare for the IMSA program, we’ll still have this great group together and ready to go.”
The change comes in the wake of the cheating scandal at January’s Rolex 24, which MSR won for Acura with the new ARX-06 hybrid GTP machine, but in the weeks that followed, the team was found to have circumvented the rules and race with lower tire pressures than were allowed by the regulations.
Although the team was allowed to keep the victory, the saga was brought to light by Acura, which reported the findings to IMSA. With the embarrassment caused by the matter, the Japanese brand was expected to wind down its GTP program with MSR; in May, the expansion of Acura’s other factory team, Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti, with a second ARX-06, was confirmed for 2024. WTRA is likely to take possession of the No. 60 MSR Acura at the conclusion of Petit Le Mans.
“I have so many people to thank who have had such an impact on me and how this team has grown – Jim France has been a supporter of us since we joined the series in 2004 and he’s someone that I cannot thank enough,” Shank added. “Jon Ikeda, David Salters and everyone at Honda, HPD, and Acura, gave MSR a shot and trusted us to run this program for the last few years and we have accomplished some pretty awesome things since running together.
“All of my crew and drivers who have been with us – and we have a pretty large list – I can’t thank them enough. Most of these guys have changed my life since I started this team in GRAND-AM. Like I said, we are not going anywhere, we’ll be gone for now, but definitely not forever. Taking next year to step back and focus on our IndyCar program will be important for us as a team.”