McLaren considering IndyCar outfit buyout

SPM co-owner Sam Schmidt confirms talks but denies takeover reports.

McLaren considering IndyCar outfit buyout

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McLaren Racing is exploring the idea of buying a team competing in the North American IndyCar racing series.

The UK-based racing team is set to field a one-off entrant for the Indy 500 later this month but is intent on buying out an existing team competing in the series, according to the Indianapolis Star. 

The British team’s chief executive Zak Brown said last month that they were interested in a full-time IndyCar presence and now the co-owner of IndyCar’s Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (SPM) team, Sam Schmidt, has said that McLaren officials have held discussions with close to every team in the series about a deal.

Schmidt told to the Indianapolis Star: “I think from June to last December, (McLaren) has talked to everyone in the paddock about everything from partnerships to equity to whatever.”

Speculation had been rife McLaren would table an offer for SPM after it announced a partnership with the IndyCar team’s title sponsor Arrow Elections, bringing the technology giant to Formula One for the first time. Arrow also sponsors McLaren’s Chevrolet-powered car that will compete at Indy 500 this month.

The rumours intensified due to SPM president Jon Flack’s ties with Brown. Flack worked as global chief operations officer and president, Americas, of Just Marketing International (JMI), which Brown founded.

However, Schmidt has poured cold water on any prospect of a deal, giving a resounding “no” when asked if SPM was up for sale.

“We found a bunch of business with McLaren Automotive and did a (business-to-business) deal with the Formula One team. And that's really as far as it's gone. Literally, that's as far as it's gone... We're happy with the way things are going,” he said.  

Despite no firm offer from McLaren for an IndyCar team so far, Brown has said the team’s entrance into the open-wheel series is “more of a when, not if.”

He added: “We’re doing this with a purpose and a reason, and it fits well within the McLaren Racing umbrella, and it’s something I’d like to see us do in the future.”

Indy Star has also reported that Brown has met with several drivers regarding the possibility of taking the wheel of a McLaren Indy car.

McLaren will next be seen in the sport at the Indy500 on 26th May, where Fernando Alonso aims to become just the second driver in history to secure world motorsports’ unofficial Triple Crown, having already won the Monaco Grand Prix and 24 hours of Le Mans.