By: Tanner Watkins
December 3, 2018 | 9:00 AM
David Byrd and his family are working hard this winter to continue a long and proud legacy of racing at the Indianapolis 500.
The experienced team owner has been actively pursuing opportunities behind the scenes to bring Australian open-wheel veteran James Davison back to the Greatest Spectacle in Racing next May. While Byrd doesn’t have anything in place just yet, he notes that clarity will come once the remaining full-time seats are filled this offseason.
“Really because of the way we do things, we just kind of have to wait until the full season programs shake out,” Byrd explained to Open-Wheels. “Once those are in place then we can have conversations with the teams that will have additional seats available.”
Even though he and other one-off teams are currently stuck in a holding pattern, Byrd is optimistic about his hopes to team up with an existing organization next spring and bring Davison with them.
“I think we’ll have something in place by Christmas for Indy for next year, so that would be nice because we didn’t have anything in place until mid-March last year,” Byrd shared. He later alluded to his desire in locking down a program as soon as possible, as opposed to the late-emerging nature of this year’s deal.
“That was a real frustration for me. I just don’t like working that way… I like making long-range plans and having things in place well in advance,” Byrd said.
“When we first returned to Indy in 2015, we had that deal done in May 2014. When we went to the 2016 “500” we had that deal in place in November 2015, so waiting until March was a big struggle for me and didn’t end up turning out the way we hoped of course.
“I think we’ll have something in place here in the near-term and James will have a good seat and we will have a nice program.”
Last May, Jonathan Byrd’s Racing teamed up with A.J. Foyt Racing, Belardi Auto Racing and Hollinger Motor Sport. At the time of its announcement, the multi-team effort was the last of the 35 entries confirmed for the 2018 Indianapolis 500.
The man tasked with driving the No. 33 Chevrolet was James Davison, attempting to make his fourth Indianapolis 500. Byrd’s connection with Davison was strengthened after watching the Aussie’s fill-in performance for Dale Coyne Racing in 2017.
“Knowing what he faced and seeing how well he did in spite of the odds he was facing, I went to James after the race that day and said ‘hey, I’d like to work with you at Indy,'” Byrd recalled.
This past May, Davison and company squeaked into the big show by being the 33rd and final qualifier on Bump Day, later improving their starting position to 19th on the second day of qualifying. Those events occurred only after a crash on Fast Friday that forced the team to work through the night in order to have a chance at making the field.
In 2019, Byrd aims to construct a more unified effort in which his team supplies much of the personnel and controls its own destiny through the month of May.
“(Our deal) will be in partnership with an existing team, but really be kind of an independent program as much as possible in terms of having our own team manager, and we will have own personnel,” says Byrd.
“We will certainly rely on our partner team for engineering support and the initial car prep but we will be able to steer our own ship in some respects while also having the full-time team to fall back on, so it’s really the best of both worlds.”
Header image by Chris Jones/INDYCAR.