ZIONSVILLE, Ind. – With the help of Indiana Governor Eric J. Holcomb and Zionsville Mayor Emily Styron, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing owners Bobby Rahal and Michael Lanigan officially broke ground on a new racing facility.
The 100,000 square-foot racing facility was announced by the team on Oct. 7 and won’t be fully completed until 2021 or 2022. It will be located off Zionsville Road at 106th Street in the booming northwest suburb of Zionsville, Ind.,
Once finished, it will be a centerpiece to the Zionsville community.
“Bobby said I have a lot on my plate, but nothing tastes better than the Month of May,” Governor Holcomb said. “What you are going to bring here is going to be instrumental in our future growth, not only as a state but also in the economic world. You have made a forever investment here, to have this global headquarters here in Zionsville, Indiana.
“We have no greater export than motor racing around the world. To have another flag in the ground shows the pride and how important it is to us. It’s a win for RLL, Zionsville, the State of Indiana, and the sport overall. It’s a win for the fans and an exciting time to be a racing fan, no matter where you come from.
“Plus, you can get the best wings anywhere at the Friendly Tavern in Zionsville.”
Other dignitaries at Tuesday’s groundbreaking including IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Roger Penske, Penske Entertainment CEO Mark Miles and IMSA President John Doonan as well Victor Leleu, the motorsports manager of BMW North America.
“I’m a little more nervous right now than I have ever been getting into a race car,” Rahal said. “This is the culmination of a lot of dreams and a lot of time, 30 years as an owner and before that being a driver. Michael Lanigan and I have tried to do this a number of times and could never get it down.
“Thanks to Mike Lanigan and his family for the realization of this dream. We are really excited. What an honor to have Governor Holcomb with us today and Mayor Emily Styron. She is fantastic to work with. A lot of the reason we are here today is Emily.
“We have a long way to go, but we have a good plan and I’m very excited. This is the realization of a great dream, and we can’t wait. We think this will be a world class facility and shows the commitment Mike and I are making to IndyCar and IMSA and the State of Indiana as well as the town of Zionsville.”
Rahal said more than 100 people will be employed at the new facility.
“We’ve had a facility in Columbus, Ohio, for many years and it’s difficult to have a facility in two different cities,” Rahal said. “We felt like Indianapolis was the best city to be. This will be a big move, for sure
“The center of our company has been here in Indianapolis in Brownsburg for a number of years. This really seemed like the right place. That is why we are here and why we are making the right investment.”
From a team aspect, it will give Rahal Letterman Lanigan all of the resources it needs to field teams in the NTT IndyCar Series and IMSA in one facility. Currently, the IndyCar team operates out of a race shop in an industrial park in Brownsburg, Ind., with the sports car operation is located in Hilliard, Ohio.
“It’s going to make it more efficient and economical and easier on people,” Rahal said. “We have people spending several days a week in Columbus and then turning around and coming home. This will be a better situation than having multiple facilities in different parts of the country.”
Efficiency and economy create a better working environment, which means better productivity and competitiveness.
“This new shop will have the IMSA guys in the same room as the IndyCar team and we can share ideas and help each other out a little bit,” Rahal Letterman Lanigan general manager Rico Nault said. “We are really busy in May, and they are very busy in January with Daytona. We will keep engineering separate because each manufacturer has their secret sauce that we want to keep confidential, but they can talk to each other on a daily basis.
“Once we get manufacturing in-house in Indianapolis, that will help in your day-to-day operation.”
Once both teams are under one roof, operating both will become more efficient.
“Right now, in Indy, we don’t have the ability to paint a car and there are no CNC laser mills here,” Nault said. “The mills in Columbus are getting old in the tooth and we need some new ones with new capabilities and new paint booths. It will be all start of the art. We will be able to design the car to build the car to campaign the car.”
The new facility will also help with sponsorship activities and entertainment. It will have the ability to host functions in the 15,000 square-foot lobby.
“The opportunity is also there for local charitable organizations to have meetings to tie the relationship between our company and the town of Zionsville,” Rahal said. “It was important if we were going to build something like this, to respond to something to tie the relationship to us and the partners.”
There will be areas upstairs for training functions and larger team meetings. The machine shop will be branded to help show off the team’s technical sponsors with the machines the team uses to build the cars that compete in IndyCar and IMSA.
Engineering will also have a war room where some of the engineering staffs will be able to monitor functions of the car at a race from afar.
The project is another step in the growing commitment to racing by RLL as it moves toward a dream of becoming a three-car operation in the NTT IndyCar Series.
“This building is big enough to become a four-car IndyCar operation and a multi-car sports car operation as well,” Nault said. “We have bays for eight Indy cars and eight sports cars, counting the backups. We are exploring the options to make that happen and it will make things easier to do that and recruit more talent.
“The commitment shows RLL is here for the long haul.”