McLaren purchases a majority share in the INDYCAR team, what this deal means and team says both drivers will return

McLaren Racing has taken the next step in its full-time return to IndyCar by announcing today that it has entered into an agreement to acquire a majority share in the Arrow McLaren SP IndyCar team. The transaction will close by the end of the year and will see McLaren Racing take a 75% share of the team. Financial terms of the deal are not being disclosed.

The agreement comes at the inaugural NTT INDYCAR Series race in Nashville, Tennessee, midway through the second season of the McLaren Racing partnership with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

“Today’s announcement is a strong signal of our long-term commitment to IndyCar as both a racing series and a marketing platform for McLaren Racing and our sponsor partners,” says McLaren CEO Zak Brown.

“I want to pay tribute to Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson who, together with the commitment and support of Arrow Electronics, have built a formidable team for us to keep growing and fulfil our common ambition of consistently challenging for wins, Indy 500s and series titles. Key to this is the continued leadership of Taylor Kiel as president of the team, who has been instrumental to the progress of the partnership so far.

“McLaren Racing believes IndyCar will continue to build our brand in North America, serve our expanding US fan and partner base across our racing portfolio and drive long-term value. The racing is second-to-none, with world-class competitors in both drivers and teams and a passionate, highly engaged fanbase.

“We see real potential for the series’s continued growth under the stewardship of Penske Entertainment and will continue to play an active role supporting the sport’s success, growing the global fan base and implementing our sustainability agenda to deliver on environmental and social commitments, including progressing diversity and inclusion in the industry.”

The team was originally founded by Sam Schmidt in 2001, with Ric Peterson joining in 2013 to form Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (SPM). The team ran one of the most successful Indy Lights programs in recent times, securing seven drivers’ championships, while in the INDYCAR series it has claimed 13 pole positions and 27 podiums including nine race victories, two as Arrow McLaren SP.

“I’ve known Zak for 25 years. He’s a racer and this is a group of hardcore racers,” said Sam Schmidt. “We started our partnership two years ago and it’s gone extremely well, both technically and commercially. Ric came in 2013 and moved the bar of the team up. Arrow came in a couple of years later and again we moved the bar up.

“With McLaren we’re moving forward again. As we’ve seen we’re now a regular contender and ultimately for Ric and I, we are here to win races, win 500s and win championships. This next step ensures the resources to do that for a long time ahead.

“I want to say that we couldn’t have done this without Arrow and Lucas Oil. They really were the foundational sponsors this team was built on and we wouldn’t be here without them. McLaren is an iconic brand and we’re proud to be with them. We’re doing this to make the team better and ensure long-term success.”

Ric Peterson echoed his sentiments.

“We always believed that to accelerate our progress in IndyCar, partnering with a team of McLaren’s capability and F1 experience was a key strategy to propel us forward, and so it has proved,” he said. “McLaren Racing now takes the baton and will combine the best of what they do with the best of what this team does to create something truly special.

“Sam and I are immensely proud of what we have built together through our partnership over the past nine years, and look forward to continue being part of this team as a partner
with McLaren Racing to see Arrow McLaren SP go from strength to strength.”

While McLaren takes a larger presence, the team name doesn’t change. Schmidt and Peterson aren’t going anywhere. It’s just a scale back but they’re not fully gone.

This has always been the plan since McLaren came back to the 2017 Indy 500. The partnership with Andretti then later Schmidt was always the start but the end goal was to eventually branch out on their own. While they’re not completely on their own, they’re almost there.

The team will be governed by a new five-person board, comprising three McLaren Racing appointees together with Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson, chaired by Zak Brown, CEO of McLaren Racing. Taylor Kiel, President of Arrow McLaren SP, will continue to lead and oversee the operations of the team, reporting directly to the board.

McLaren returned to full-time IndyCar competition in 2020 after a 40-year absence to create Arrow McLaren SP, forming a strategic partnership with title sponsor Arrow Electronics and SPM, bringing technical and engineering expertise to the existing operation. In addition, McLaren has helped strengthen the team’s commercial portfolio with the addition of sponsors Vuse, Mission Foods, Darktrace, Tezos and QNTMPAY while supporting the team’s communications, social and content activities to help build its growing fanbase.

The announcement underlines the continued growth of the McLaren Racing organisation, with four fully-fledged teams, headed by McLaren F1 and complemented by the McLaren IndyCar, McLaren Extreme E and McLaren Shadow esports and gaming teams.

Also, the two current drivers will remain as both Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist will return. Rumors were Rosenqvist was on thin ice but that’s since been dispelled as he’ll return for a second season.

The team has eyes on expansion to a third car but only if the driver is right. 2023 is the more likely scenario.

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