Pratt Miller sizing up potential IndyCar entry

DETROIT STREET CIRCUIT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA - JUNE 04: #10: Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, #3: Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske Chevrolet lead at the start at Detroit Street Circuit on Sunday June 04, 2023, United States of America. (Photo by Jake Galstad / LAT Images)
DETROIT STREET CIRCUIT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA - JUNE 04: #10: Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, #3: Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske Chevrolet lead at the start at Detroit Street Circuit on Sunday June 04, 2023, United States of America. (Photo by Jake Galstad / LAT Images)

One of the greatest teams in modern North American racing wants to add its name to the list of NTT IndyCar Series entrants in the coming years.

Michigan-based Pratt Miller Engineering, whose team has built and run the factory Corvette Racing program since its inception in the late 1990s, is developing a plan that would bring its Pratt Miller Motorsports division into the IndyCar paddock as a competitor.

“We’re still working through what’s required on the business and technical side of things, but we feel there’s a really good opportunity for us to be in IndyCar in the next couple of years,” Pratt Miller Motorsports VP Brandon Widmer told RACER. “We’re not going to rush into it. We’re looking for the right opportunity for us, and we want to put together a program that’s competitive so we can be racing for wins and championships.”

Separate from its countless wins, championships, and international success for General Motors with Corvette, Pratt Miller has been involved in IndyCar for more than a decade, working behind the scenes as a powerful engineering, design and development resource for GM since it returned to open-wheel competition in 2012.

Pratt Miller was involved in the development of Chevrolet’s aerokit program for IndyCar in 2015 but direct entry by the company would be an independent operation. Phil Abbott/Motorsport Images

The same Pratt Miller group that helped Chevy to win seven IndyCar championships from 2012-22, and who created Chevy’s championship-winning aero kit that dominated from 2015-17, has a newfound ability to field a racing team of its own after a change in the relationship with GM.

Following an extensive period of exclusivity with GM, the auto giant reduced its demands on Pratt Miller’s overall resources at the end of 2022 by creating its own open-wheel support solutions inside its new Charlotte Technical Center in North Carolina. And while Pratt Miller will continue with GM as the exclusive builder of the new Corvette Z06 GT3 race car and run the renamed Corvette Racing by Pratt Miller Motorsports team when the model debuts next year in IMSA’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTD Pro class, the exclusivity only pertains to sports car racing.

With its newfound ability and bandwidth to deploy its Motorsports division in IndyCar, Pratt Miller has consulted with the series’ president on its plans and has been in active discussions with interested parties for months. Although no formal launch date has been established, joining the series as a full-time entrant in 2025 or ’26 is the current target.

“We’re pivoting our motorsports business a bit, looking at opportunities of where we can have the best impact both competitively as well as where the best commercial opportunities are, and we see IndyCar as a very strong series,” Widmer said. “(IndyCar president) Jay Frye and his IndyCar leadership team have been very welcoming and supportive of our interests,

“There’s a lot of growth opportunity with IndyCar and we feel it’s a really good fit for us with our experience. I think the Chevy program overall has been very successful, in which​​ we supported their IndyCar program up until 2023. We still have a lot of the staff that supported Chevy and have specific IndyCar experience and knowledge and interest.

“We’re not naive and think we’re gonna go out and dominate the first few races necessarily, but we do think we have what it takes to compete against the best teams in the series that have been so successful. That’s why we’re working hard to put together a program and would like to see a Pratt Miller Motorsports team out there in the pretty near future.”

Jake Galstad/Motorsport Images

IndyCar is ripe for growth within its team ownership ranks. At present, 10 teams field 27 full-time entries, and with interest growing around the series among domestic and international drivers, IndyCar could expand its grid if more teams were involved.

It makes the prospect of having a world-renowned team like Pratt Miller in the series a fascinating possibility to consider.

“We want to come at the series a little bit different,” Widmer said. “People are critical to success, and we want to leverage how we’ve approached other programs from a team operation standpoint. We want to leverage what we’ve done in sports cars, most notably with Corvette Racing, and approach IndyCar a little different in how we assemble a team and how we operate with series-specific needs in IndyCar.

“So we are looking for a partner, a strategic partner, and we’re certainly open to having conversations with others. We’ve had conversations with people that are already in the open-wheel space, and certainly with some formidable companies. We do want this to be a premier motorsports effort, and not just an extension of some other team that’s already in the series. So that’s important to us.

“It’s important to us to be the majority shareholders and control our own destiny. To that end, we’ve had discussions with some very solid people and they’re excited to continue some of those discussions as well.”​


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