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Alexander Rossi, Arrow McLaren SP

Source: James Black/Penske Entertainment / other

INDIANAPOLIS — Not even five years ago, McLaren was only dipping its toe back into the realm of Indy car racing. Now, the team has expanded to become one of the top competing teams in the sport.

Since entering into its marriage with Schmidt-Peterson to form Arrow McLaren SP, soon to be just Arrow McLaren, team principal and CEO Zak Brown says AMSP is entering a time of overwhelming optimism and expectation.

“It’s been a very busy off-season, ultimately recruiting a lot of people for our expansion, then, of course, announced Tony (Kanaan) joining us for the Indy 500 this year, and Kyle Larson joining us in ’24,” Brown said. “We’re definitely thinking long-term about our commitment to INDYCAR racing.”

AMSP has a rejuvenated roster of full-time IndyCar drivers this year with Felix Rosenqvist and Pato O’Ward returning to their stable. New to the team this year is Alexander Rossi who comes to Arrow McLaren after spending his last seven seasons with Andretti Autosport.

Given the current economic climate, the impacts of the COVID pandemic, and the growth of other forms of auto racing in general, it’s being viewed as quite an achievement that AMSP has been able to expand its IndyCar operation this quickly.

New AMSP racing director Gavin Ward said they had to get creative in recruiting new talent.

“We didn’t look at just wanting to bring in people from the INDYCAR paddock necessarily to fill the slots we needed to fill,” said Ward. We always kind of wanted to bring in a good mix. We’ve got some great hires from other racing series. We have a great mechanic from World of Outlaws, a great mechanic from Williams F1. We brought in engineers from (NASCAR) Cup. We have an engineer from Boeing, one that has a Salesforce background. Happy with the amount of diversity we’ve brought in.”

Many newer teams have struggled to get off the ground because of a lack of availability in talent. For example, Paretta Autosport was unable to field a car in last year’s Indianapolis 500 because of a lack of personnel available to staff their team.

It’s quite possible that AMSP will try to field five cars in the 108th running of the Indianapolis 500 come 2024.

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