In an online show on IMS.com, 2020 Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato got his first look at his second likeness on the Borg-Warner trophy. Sato is a two time winner of the race. He first won in 2017 and finished third in 2019.The race is 100 days from today.
The 30 minute program featured segments with Doug Boles and Rahal Letterman team owners Mike lanigan and Bobby Rahal. Last year was Rahal’s second win as a car owner. He also won the 2004 race with Buddy Rice driving. The third team owner, David Letterman, appeared in a prerecorded video.
The full program is available for viewing on YouTube.
A Good Sign for 500 Fans?
The NCAA this morning announced that the NCCA men’s basketball tournament games will allow 25% capacity at the games, which be played entirely in Indianapolis. The tournament will take place at several venues in Indianapolis as well as at Purdue and Indiana University. The 25% includes the teams and game personnel, which narrows the actual number of fans at each arena. As I am writing this, Purdue just announced 12-13% capacity for the tournament games.
The positive part is that this may signal some good news for fan attendance at the Indianapolis 500. Marion County has been the most restrictive county in Indiana at times, but this allowance may be a great sign for May.
ZIONSVILLE, Ind. (Oct. 7, 2020) – Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (RLL), an automotive racing organization, announced plans today to expand its Indiana operations, establishing its global headquarters in Zionsville and creating up to 73 new jobs by the end of 2024.
“Indiana’s reputation as a leader in motorsports continues to pick up speed with companies like Rahal Letterman Lanigan choosing to invest in our state,” Governor Eric J. Holcomb said. “We look forward to supporting RLL’s continued growth in Indiana as the company leverages our state’s business-friendly environment and skilled workforce while racing to the checkered flag.”
The company, which has four entries in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and International Motor Sports Association (IMSA)’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, will invest more than $20 million to build and equip a state-of-the-art racing headquarters at the northeast corner of Creek Way and 106th Street in Zionsville. The 100,000-square-foot facility, which will occupy 13 acres southeast of the downtown area, will allow RLL to consolidate its existing INDYCAR operations in Brownsburg, as well as its IMSA operations in Ohio. The new building will feature office and event space as well as automotive R&D and light manufacturing operations to support the dynamic functions of RLL’s racing teams. The company expects to break ground on its headquarters late 2020 and be fully operational by spring 2022.
“We are very excited about this project, and excited about being in a park-like setting in Zionsville,” said Bobby Rahal, co-owner of RLL. “We feel that this building will make a statement about who we are at RLL and what our intentions are about the future. Having our entire organization based in the Indianapolis area, in Zionsville, is going to be a big plus for our organization. We have done a great job of having two facilities, as is showcased by our wins in the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Indianapolis 500 this season, but it is certainly demanding having people in two places. We have had time to really look at the building and design every aspect with input from our personnel to maximize the space.”
Founded in 1992, RLL is co-owned by three-time INDYCAR champion and 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal, former CBS Late Show host and Indiana native David Letterman, and Mi-Jack co-owner Mike Lanigan. This year, RLL earned its second Indy 500 win and first since 2004, when Takuma Sato also took home his second victory at the historic race. RLL’s INDYCAR team is also headlined by Graham Rahal, son of Bobby Rahal, who is a six-time winner in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.
“We have been working on building a race shop for over five years and are now ready to move forward,” said Mike Lanigan, co-owner of RLL. “I am personally very excited and honored to be working with the town of Zionsville. I used to live in the area years ago and look forward to our team integrating ourselves into the community and their various programs. Having our racing teams under one roof will not only maximize our abilities, it will provide economies of scale to keep the cost down. That savings will enable us to reinvest more back into the company.”
Indiana is globally recognized as a leader in motorsports. Home to the “Racing Capital of the World,” Indiana welcomes visitors from around the world to Indianapolis for world-class racing events like the Indy 500, Brickyard 400 and IndyCar Grand Prix. Motorsports-related businesses operate in all of Indiana’s 92 counties, with more than 2,400 motorsports businesses like RLL supporting more than 421,000 motorsports-related jobs across Indiana.
“Our efforts to seek the right fit for Creekside Corporate Park have proven successful with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing expanding to Zionsville and choosing Creekside Corporate Park for their corporate headquarters,” said Zionsville Mayor Emily Styron. “In Zionsville, we have the best of both worlds – a thriving business community and an unparalleled quality of life. RLL fits in well with the local culture and business environment and I know their team will love being part of this community. We are thrilled to welcome RLL to town.”
The Indiana Economic Development Corporation will offer RLL up to $1.2 million in conditional tax credits based on the company’s job creation plans and up to $300,000 in conditional tax credits from the Hoosier Business Investment (HBI) tax credit program based on the company’s planned capital investment in Indiana. These tax credits are performance-based, meaning until Hoosiers are hired, the company is not eligible to claim incentives.
About Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, based in Hilliard, Ohio and Brownsburg, Ind., is co-owned by three-time IndyCar Champion and 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal, former CBS Late Show host David Letterman and Mi-Jack co-owner Mike Lanigan. In 2020, the team is in the midst of their 29th year of open wheel competition and has 29 wins – including the 2004 Indy 500 from pole with Buddy Rice and the 2020 Indy 500 with Takuma Sato — their 33 poles, 107 podium finishes and 1992 series championship. The team also competed in the American Le Mans Series from 2009-2013 as BMW Team RLL where they won both the Manufacturer and Team Championships in the GT category in 2010 and swept all three GT titles in 2011 – Manufacturer, Team and Driver. In 2012, the team finished second in the Team Championship and third in the Manufacturer Championship and in 2013, the team finished second in the Driver, Team and Manufacturer Championship. Since 2014, BMW Team RLL has competed in the GTLM class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with a two-car program and has brought their total to 22 wins – including the 2019 and 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona endurance races, 28 poles and 82 podium finishes as well as a second place finish in the Manufacturer, Team and Driver championships in 2015 and 2017.
About IEDC The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) leads the state of Indiana’s economic development efforts, helping businesses launch, grow and locate in the state. Governed by a 15-member board chaired by Governor Eric J. Holcomb, the IEDC manages many initiatives, including performance-based tax credits, workforce training grants, innovation and entrepreneurship resources, public infrastructure assistance, and talent attraction and retention efforts. For more information about the IEDC, visit http://www.iedc.in.gov.
Here are four teams I think should show improvement over their 2019 performance. They are presented in no particular order.
Meyer Shank Racing
Michael Shank has finally reached his dream of a full time entry in the NTT Indycar Series. Jack Harvey did well early in 2019 when the team ran virtually every race, culminating in a podium at the Indycar Grand Prix. When the team had a gap before their next race, their performance dropped off. The consistency of a full season will help the team do well in 2020.
Not hurting their chances is the technical alliance with Andretti Autosport. Colton Herta had this same arrangement last year, and he did all right. Harvey had three top 10s in his first six races. He was 13th in points after the Indianapolis 500. I think he may have moved up a spot or two had he run every race in 2019.
Arrow McLaren SP
On the surface, it appears this team is doing everything the wrong way. They signed a rookie driver and one with eight races of experience. In the process, they fired their most veteran driver. They are bringing in a new engineering staff. Even the ownership has seen a shakeup. In the team’s favor is that all of the new pieces have a lot of talent.
Rookie Oliver Askew is a steady driver. The 2019 Indy Lights champion is focused and analytical behind the wheel. Pato O’Ward had a roller coaster season bouncing from series to series. I think he will show his appreciation for having a full time ride. Both drivers were in the top 10 at Spring Training.
The third element that will help AMSP is engineer Craig Hampson, who joined the team after working with Sebastien Bourdais. Hampson and Bourdais won several championships together, and the pair gave the Dale Coyne team some relevance. The team may need a race or two to get their footing, but I think they will have enough good results to call their season successful.
This group seems to always be looking for consistency. Graham Rahal said on Content Day, “When we were strong at a track, both of ttling battling tus were strong. When we struggled at a track, both of us struggled.”
Takuma Sato was ninth in the final standings and Rahal finished tenth. They are not that far off from moving up in the top 10. Sato won twice and earned two poles. Rahal started on the front row at Barber but was sidelined by mechanical problems. It was a steady season for two drivers who still weren’t satisfied.
RLL should have a few better race results, but moving up in the final standings may be difficult battling the three teams that make up half the grid. Both drivers can win a race and I could see that happening in 2020.
Ed Carpenter Racing
The oval program is solid, especially at Indianapolis. Two spots on the front row last year and three poles in the 500 are a great qualifying record. The team is still looking to improve their road and street course performance. I think they are on their way to doing just that.
The road/street team of Conor Daly and rookie Rinus VeeKay are capable of turning the team’s fortunes around. Daly seems to make any car he drives better. With a full season at the same team ECR should improve as the year goes on. VeeKay, the Indy Lights runner-up needs to focus his energy and adapt quickly to the nuances of Indycar. He is a talented, consistent driver.
How many more seasons will Ed Carpenter drive the oval races? Only Ed knows that answer. His runner-up finish at Gateway last August shows he isn’t ready to step out of the car yet. I think in a couple of years he will cut back to Indy only, but for now there isn’t any good reason to stop.
A good season for this team on the road courses would be some second round qualifying results and a few top ten race finishes. The talent is there. I can see this team putting it together, especially after Indianapolis.
Monday I’ll preview the Big Three. Tomorrow- a summary of all the great news that happened this week in Indycar.
I love watching a track come alive on race morning. It’s fun seeing the energy build among the fans and teams.
Age and experience beat youth everytime.
Takuma Sato was unstoppable this weekend. He has won two of the last five races going back to Portland in 2018.
There were terrific battles throughout the day.
Josef Newgarden is doing the things needed to be champion. He fought hard from his 17th starting position to finish fourth. Herta’s issues allowed him to increase his point lead to 27 over Scott Dixon. I wouldn’t count Dixon out just yet.
Both Swedish rookies finished in the top 10. Marcus Ericsson was 7th and Felix Rosenqvist was 10th. It was a good recovery for Rosenqvist who had some off track excurions earlier in the weekend.
Even though Power has won twice here, he seems to have some sort of problem during the race. It’s odd to see a driver who has had a lot of success at a track run into so much difficulty the last few years.
Jack Harvey had another good run but it looked like pit strategy kept him from a third straight top 10, Still MSR is doing well this young season.
The crowd was still a good size, but seemed a little down from the last two years.
Dragonspeed and driver Ben Hanley have shown a gain in speed since St. Pete. After today they have just three races remaining in their short first season. It looks like they are on a good path to a decent pace.
They were not the last car running today.
Look for my full race report tomorrow on Wildfire Sports. Thanks for following along this weekend.
Photo: Sato’s crew celebrates after the checkered flag.
That was a refreshing qualifying session on many levels. It was green all the way. No Penske cars in the Fast Six for the first time since 2014. Five teams represented in the Fast Six. One team locked out the front row, and it wasn’t one of the Big Three.
Chevys are scattered through the field in groups of twos and threes.
Tomorrow’s race became very interesting as soon as the checkered flag waved on qualifying.
The crowd today looked more like a typical Barber Saturday. The lack of rain likely helped with that.
Does any driver exhibit the pure joy of success better than Takuma Sato? I mean besides Will Power at Indianapolis last May.
Graham Rahal had his best race in a long time at COTA two weeks ago. Can he improve on that tomorrow?
Conor Daly won the Lamborghini Super Trofeo race today