The McLaren Racing team is acquiring a 75-percent stake in the Arrow McLaren SP NTT IndyCar Series team.
McLaren’s majority ownership purchase of the team founded by Sam Schmidt, and co-owned by Ric Peterson, is expected to be completed later in the year. The team name and operations side in Indianapolis, Indiana, will remain unchanged; a deeper integration with McLaren’s personnel and engineering resources is anticipated as the British Formula 1 team takes control of the IndyCar operation backed by Arrow Electronics.
Launched in 2001, Sam Schmidt Motorsports evolved through a number of co-ownership phases before settling with Peterson, a successful Canadian trucking and logistics businessman, in 2013. In partnership with McLaren, the team relaunched as Arrow McLaren SP in 2020 with Schmidt and Peterson — the S and P in the team name — retaining full possession of the business. After two seasons together, McLaren will lead the effort into the future when the 2022 championship begins.
The British Formula 1 team will assemble a new five-person board to oversee the IndyCar program, with McLaren F1 CEO Zak Brown leading the group. The cost of McLaren’s 75-percent interest in AMSP was not revealed.
“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,” Brown said. “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 fulfill 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 U.S. 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.”
Brown also cited the positive trends demonstrated with IndyCar through the increase in television ratings and general improvements made to the series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway by Roger Penske as a motivation to make the AMSP investment.
“We see real potential for the series’ 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,” he added.
Schmidt and Peterson will remain involved with the team, have seats on the governance board, and continue to hold a 25-percent share in the company. AMSP president Taylor Kiel will also remain in his team-side leadership role.
“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,” Peterson 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.”
As AMSP, the recalibrated outfit rose to a new state of competitiveness with rookie driver Pato O’Ward last season. Placing fourth in the championship in the No. 5 Chevy, the breakout star of 2020 returned with vigor this year, earning two wins so far while holding second in the standings. New teammate Felix Rosenqvist is in the midst of his best weekend of 2021, having qualified fifth for today’s Music City Grand Prix in Nashville.
Looking to the future, AMSP continues to grow closer to fielding a third full-time entry.