PATASKALA, Ohio (WCMH) – Two months after winning the Indianapolis 500, Meyer Shank Racing will take another victory lap – this time through the streets of its hometown.
MSR, its employees and co-owner Michael Shank will cruise through downtown Pataskala on Saturday morning, joined by sports teams from Watkins Memorial High School in a “Parade of Champions.”
“We’re small-town folks, really,” said Shank, a Columbus native who grew up in Gahanna and now lives in Buckeye Lake. “And that we were able to bring something pretty cool to this town I think is good for all of us.”
The parade starts at 10 a.m. at Foundation Park (10255 McIntosh Road), with participants staging from 8:30 to 9 a.m. The route runs down Oak Meadow Drive, turns onto Third Avenue and runs the length of Main Street.
The parade ends in the rear parking lot of the former town hall building at 430 S. Main St. MSR will be joined by two teams from Watkins Memorial: its state champion rugby team and state runner-up softball team. Also in the parade, Shank said, will be local car clubs, a band and firetrucks.
“The mayor (Mike Compton) thought it’d be a great idea to tie not only our win but some wins to the local high school state championships, which I’m totally for and support,” Shank said.
“So, he kind of talked me into it a little bit,” Shank laughed. “I don’t feel like we need a parade, but I think there’s a lot of people that were really excited.”
Bringing home history
On Memorial Day weekend, MSR earned its first IndyCar victory in America’s most prestigious open-wheel auto race. Veteran driver Helio Castroneves, in his first start for the team, made a late pass for the lead to win his record-tying fourth Indy 500.
MSR is the first Ohio team to win the 500 since Jim Trueman’s Hilliard-based Truesports in 1986. Medina native Bobby Rahal drove to victory, and the team celebrated with a parade through Columbus.
Castroneves and teammate Jack Harvey will not be in Saturday’s parade, but it will feature the official Indy 500 pace car and the car Castroneves drove to victory.
“The car is the actual car,” Shank said. “We haven’t touched (it). It still has pink and white milk all over it, dried.”
It’s tradition for the Indy 500 winner to drink milk in victory lane, and Castroneves chose strawberry milk as a nod to the pink car. People will have the chance to take pictures with both cars at the end of the parade route.
Shank said he’s been able to process the life-changing victory over the past two months, but the gravity of the win has yet to lift, especially what it means to Central Ohio.
“I truly believe in buying and supporting local business – small business, specifically – buying, staying local. That’s why I stayed on the east side of Columbus and Licking County,” Shank said. “And I live out here, we haven’t moved. And I subscribe to everything we can to support local. So, if this (parade) is part of it, then that’s awesome.”
MSR returns to IndyCar racing on Aug. 8 for a street course race in Nashville, Tennessee. Castroneves will run five of the six races remaining in the season alongside full-time driver Harvey. Shank said Castroneves will test with the team at Portland International Raceway next week.
The team is building a new shop in the Pataskala Corporate Park, near their current shop in Etna Township. Shank estimated that MSR won’t be in it until September or October.