Menards races back to IRL

March 18, 2008
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menards The company that powered Tony Stewart to the 1997 Indy Racing League championship is coming back to open-wheel racing. John Menard confirmed that his Menards chain of hardware superstores will be sponsoring Tony George’s Vision Racing team for the 2008 season. Menard will sponsor the car driven by Ed Carpenter, George’s stepson. Terms of the deal were not released, but motorsports business experts placed the deal in the $2 million to $3 million range.

After the IRL-CART split in 1996, Menard fielded one of the most successful multi-car IRL teams. Menard, 68, of Eau Claire, Wis., ran his own IRL team until 2001 before leaving to follow his son’s stock car career. Menard continued as an IRL sponsor, funding Vitor Meira in 2002 and 2003, before leaving the series altogether. Menard has sponsored cars piloted by some of the best open-wheel drivers, including Al Unser Sr. and Tom Sneva. But he’s never been part of a winning Indianapolis 500 team. He said one of his primary goals is changing that.

Oddly, Menard’s pairing with Vision Racing brings him back together with Larry Curry, who went to jail for embezzling more than $1 million of Menard’s money over a three year period in the late 1990s. Curry, who managed Menard’s IRL team when Stewart drove, is now the team manager for Vision. Menard said he has no problem with Curry’s involvement with Vision Racing.

For now, Menard said he is happy to be a part of Vision Racing, but he didn’t discount becoming an IRL team owner again.
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  • I welcome John Menard back with open arms. Indy is not the same without their familiar livery on a car or two. Kudos to him for showing forgiveness towards Curry who I think has done very well with the Vision team. Now they just need to hire Buddy Lazier to drive a third car at Indy and all will be right with the world!
  • What a welcome development! And just one more reason for me to continue to favor shopping at Menards over its competitors. I wish John and his efforts with Visiion much success. And yes, bring on Buddy!!!!
  • I think this is just the begining of the parade of new sponsors and team into the IRL. They have always had a great product, sponsors just did not know which horse to back.

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  1. How much you wanna bet, that 70% of the jobs created there (after construction) are minimum wage? And Harvey is correct, the vast majority of residents in this project will drive to their jobs, and to think otherwise, is like Harvey says, a pipe dream. Someone working at a restaurant or retail store will not be able to afford living there. What ever happened to people who wanted to build buildings, paying for it themselves? Not a fan of these tax deals.

  2. Uh, no GeorgeP. The project is supposed to bring on 1,000 jobs and those people along with the people that will be living in the new residential will be driving to their jobs. The walkable stuff is a pipe dream. Besides, walkable is defined as having all daily necessities within 1/2 mile. That's not the case here. Never will be.

  3. Brad is on to something there. The merger of the Formula E and IndyCar Series would give IndyCar access to International markets and Formula E access the Indianapolis 500, not to mention some other events in the USA. Maybe after 2016 but before the new Dallara is rolled out for 2018. This give IndyCar two more seasons to run the DW12 and Formula E to get charged up, pun intended. Then shock the racing world, pun intended, but making the 101st Indianapolis 500 a stellar, groundbreaking event: The first all-electric Indy 500, and use that platform to promote the future of the sport.

  4. No, HarveyF, the exact opposite. Greater density and closeness to retail and everyday necessities reduces traffic. When one has to drive miles for necessities, all those cars are on the roads for many miles. When reasonable density is built, low rise in this case, in the middle of a thriving retail area, one has to drive far less, actually reducing the number of cars on the road.

  5. The Indy Star announced today the appointment of a new Beverage Reporter! So instead of insightful reports on Indy pro sports and Indiana college teams, you now get to read stories about the 432nd new brewery open or some obscure Hoosier winery winning a county fair blue ribbon. Yep, that's the coverage we Star readers crave. Not.

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