Shank the Lone Ranger
Shank the Lone Ranger
If there is safety in numbers, Michael Shank, 48, and his eponymous Racing team live with danger. Competing for outright 2015 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship race wins, his No. 60 Curb Records Michael Shank Racing Prototype team is the only full season entry for both the Ligier chassis and the Honda engine.
Yet, Shank doesn’t feel lonely. In fact, in some ways he rather enjoys going his own way. “There are a couple of challenges,” said Shank.
“From a parts stand point, when we need parts, it’s a challenge. We have a lot, and we’re typically in good shape, but if we have a big crash like we did at Sebring, having parts alone is a problem.”
“Secondly, continuing to fight the BOP (balance of performance) between the P2 and the DP, I’m the only one that really cares now. So, on that side of it, not to have somebody with me on that can be tough.
“Having said that, it’s not a huge issue right now.” Shank’s team won the pole at the season opening Rolex 24 At Daytona and has two podium finishes.
The depth and experience of his Columbus, Ohio based team gives Shank the confidence to take some risks.
“We’ve been together a very long time. We have 99% continuity within our team members since we started this team,” said Shank.
“Everybody already knows the strengths and weaknesses, it’s already predetermined so that’s our greatest strength. We had to learn a new car, but we didn’t have to learn new people so to speak. Onroak (Ligier) embedded a couple of engineers with us at different points but they fit in just fine.
“We’ve had a lot of cars in the 11 seasons we’ve been here, but the P2 was a totally different piece and we’re still learning about it every single day,” continued Shank.
Still, being a solo act carries some risk, but Shank also sees the upside.
“The risks are that nobody would want to drive a prototype car no matter what it is,” said Shank.
“The positive is that I believe if you’re going to come into prototype racing you’ll really want to do it in a P2 car. So somebody that’s never done prototype racing in America, this car is THE car to be in or a car similar to this. I have that and that’s our future as we head into 2017. The bad thing is that we just need more people to be in our series.”
Despite taking on a powerful foursome of Chevrolet Corvette DPs, plus the revamped Mazda and the Chip Ganassi Racing Ford EcoBoost entry, Shank is optimistic as he considers the team’s prospects for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen.
“There are a couple of tracks – Long Beach and Detroit – that our cars aren’t super well suited for so there is a little bit of that, but we get that back when we go to tracks like The Glen, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Circuit of The Americas,” said Shank, referring to some of the fastest circuits in North America.
After all, Jill Scott sings, “One is the Magic number” and being atop the podium is never lonely.