One of the major story lines leading up to the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season has been the influx of new ownership to the paddock.
After making their debut in last year’s Indianapolis 500, Michael Shank Racing will have an even bigger presence on the grid this year. The team will head to the March 11 season opener on the street circuit in St. Petersburg, Florida with driver Jack Harvey, who drove for the team at Indianapolis last May.
Like his owner, the road to this point has been a long-awaited one for Harvey. A native of Bassingham, Lincolnshire in England, Harvey began his karting career at age nine. In 2006, he captured the MSA Super One British title and Kartmasters British Grand Prix in the ICA-J class.
The following season, the Briton moved to the new KF3 category for the Italian Maranello team. Harvey captured the European championship in KF3, another Kartmasters title, the Andrea Margutti Trophy and the Italian Open Masters championship. In what proved to be his final season in karting, Harvey won the 2008 Asia-Pacific championship
In 2009, Harvey began his formula racing career in Formula BMW with Fortec Motorsport, winning one race and two poles en route to a seventh-place finish in the championship. He returned to the series the following year, amassing seven wins, eight poles and 13 podiums in 14 starts on his way to a runner-up finish in the standings.
In 2011, after moving on to the British Formula 3 series with Carlin Motorsport, Harvey accumulated one win and five podiums in 29 races, which earned him ninth in points. Carlin and Harvey teamed up again in 2012, with Harvey racking up seven wins, nine poles and 12 podiums in 30 starts, securing the series championship.
Harvey would move onto GP3 with ART Grand Prix in 2013, where he would claim two wins and an additional podium, as he ended the season fifth in points. Harvey’s racing odyssey would lead him to the Indy Lights Series in 2014, as he would drive for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
Finishing in the top five in all 14 events, including sweeping the doubleheaders at Mid-Ohio and Sonoma, Harvey would secure second place in the championship.
Harvey and SPM continued the same success, as the Briton won the first race of a doubleheader on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and followed that up two weeks later by winning the Freedom 100 on the IMS oval. Harvey again finished second in the championship in 2015.
After more than a year waiting for an opportunity to break into the Verizon IndyCar Series, Andretti Autosport and Michael Shank teamed up to field Harvey in the 101st Indianapolis 500 in May 2017. After starting 27th, he came in contact with debris from Conor Daly’s crash, ending his debut just 65 laps.
Later in 2017, Harvey and SPM would again join forces, as Harvey entered the last two races of the Verizon IndyCar Series season in the team’s no. 7 entry at Watkins Glen and Sonoma. Harvey started 18th and finished 14th at Watkins Glen, then started 19th and finished 18th at Sonoma two weeks later to end the year.
In December, Harvey and Shank announced they would field a car for six races in the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series, this time in a technical alliance with SPM. The team will field the no. 60 car at St. Petersburg, Long Beach, the 102nd Indianapolis 500, Mid-Ohio, Portland and Sonoma.
“I’m absolutely thrilled for this to come together and for everything to be moving forward,” said Harvey in a December 8 press release about the announcement.
“I had a very positive experience racing for Mike Shank in the Indianapolis 500, and it was great to build on that with SPM in the last two races of the year. Now to be racing for Mike and to also have the support of SPM for this program, it is the best of both worlds for me. I want to do as well as we possibly can for AutoNation and SiriusXM, and I cannot wait for St. Pete to get here.”
Shank, who drove in the 1997 Indy Racing League event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and has been working for several years to field an IndyCar team, also expressed a great deal of enthusiasm about the announcement.
“I’m so happy to have everything come together and to be able to make this announcement—there was a ton of work that went into just getting to this point, and of course it is just the start,” said Shank.
“This is a very big deal— for me and my wife Mary Beth, and for my race team. We are really excited to have Jack (Harvey) back with us, and very focused on making the most of this multi-year program. It is a big undertaking but I’ve been working on this nonstop, every day for months to have everything in place for us to be able to go out and build a competitive program.”
After both he and his owner have been working to get to this point, Harvey and Shank now have the chance to prove that they can compete and will do so on some of the biggest stages the Verizon IndyCar Series has to offer.
Images courtesy of INDYCAR Media.