Shank smarting, but working on Rolex 24 return

“It’s been 20 years. Twenty years since me and my wife Mary Beth did our first Daytona 24 Hours, 2004, and it doesn’t feel right with us not heading there right at the moment,” Mike Shank told RACER.

It will indeed be a strange sight at Daytona International Speedway as IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship transporters load into the paddock for the Roar Before The 24 and Rolex 24 At Daytona without the familiar sight of Meyer Shank Racing positioned among the dozens of haulers.

The Ohio-based team has been making that trip since the early days of the Grand-Am Rolex Series, when MSR transitioned away from its open-wheel roots in the Atlantic Championship and went all-in with the new Daytona Prototype category. Arriving at Daytona with no endurance racing experience wasn’t a limitation for Shank’s team, as it finished seventh overall on its Rolex 24 debut, and from there, the roots of the team we’ve come to know in the NTT IndyCar Series and IMSA’s WeatherTech Championship were planted.


By 2012, MSR had its first Rolex 24 victory, and three more were added, with back-to-back wins in 2022-2023 to go with championships earned in GTD and DPi. Achievements aside, it was the most Daytona recent triumph that led to the severing of MSR’s sports car roots after the team was caught cheating, but Shank isn’t giving up on bringing his squad back to IMSA.

“Look, it’s not great,” he said. “It’s a little a little sad because we’re so used to doing it that it’s just a really odd feeling right now of knowing we’re not going to be racing in the Rolex. But we’re working hard to get back to it, I can tell you that. And we’ll see how that story is told. In the meantime, Mary Beth and I are going to be down Key West (Florida), watching the race on TV while we’re someplace warm.”

As half of Acura’s factory hybrid GTP effort along with Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti, MSR was the only team to win for the brand during the 2023 season as victories at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Motul Petit Le Mans ensured the ARX-06 GTP model was at the sharp end of the field. But with the self-induced troubles that emerged after Daytona — where it was allowed to keep the win but lost all of its championship points — MSR’s IMSA relationship with Acura wound down after the season finale and both GTP entries were consolidated with WTRA.

MSR’s win at last year’s Rolex 24 was subsequently tainted by the discovery that the team had been manipulating tire pressure data. While it was allowed to keep the victory, it lost the championship points that came with it, and eventually, its manufacturer partnership with Acura. Motorsport Images

Despite the end of its time as a factory team for Acura and the lack of an immediate follow-up IMSA program for 2024, Shank and MSR co-owner Jim Meyer have retained the entire sports car team for the year to ensure its IMSA staff stays employed and ready to go racing if a new program is established for 2025.

“Like I said, it’s sad that we’re not there, but this isn’t our time to be done yet,” Shank said. “I believe we have the best team on the IMSA pit lane. We proved it last year, came back from a terrible thing in January for all of us to go through, gotten us back on the track and hunting for a championship by Petit, which is lot more than anybody could have expected after how we started. So I couldn’t ask for any more. And we want to get back to it, so that’s the hardest part.

“The hardest part is all the folks that make the team and make the team good at what it did aren’t racing in IMSA, but having them here and ready to go whenever we can make that happen, and to help our IndyCar team make the strides it needs in the meantime, is a luxury.”

MSR has been linked with a few different manufacturers to replace Acura.

“I definitely can’t name who we’re talking with, but the phone rings and it ebbs and flows,” he said. “I think we’re in a good spot. So now we’re just seeing how things work out after we get through this flurry of the beginning of the season and then we’ll see if there’s opportunity that makes sense for everybody. And I hope there is, I really do. We’ve kept all the support equipment, got the same new timing stand, and so we’ll be prepared to attack when the time is right.”

Story originally appeared on Racer