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Hull & Knarr helping Scott Anderson make his way in MRTI

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Often times it’s behind-the-scenes organizations or people who make drivers’ racing dreams – and careers – come true.

One such example is Hull & Knarr, a company that features a team of engineers who specialize in tax credit and audit defense practices. David M. Hull, CPA, is the managing partner; Brad Ferrell is the director.

The company has helped support Scott Anderson, who completed his fourth season on the Mazda Road to Indy this year and second in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, and this year raced with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

Anderson, who’s managed by Derek Daly, shifted to Schmidt Peterson for 2015 after overachieving as a rookie on a single-car team with Fan Force United in 2014. The Colorado native moved to a four-car team; at present, he’s not sure of his 2016 plans but seeks to continue once more in Indy Lights.

Ferrell explained how he and Anderson got connected, as they came together when Anderson was driving with Fan Force United.

“We knew Chris Williams and Tyce Carlson that owned Fan Force United (FFU),” Ferrell told MotorSportsTalk. “Scott happened to be their driver at that time. We immediately hit it off with Scott and his parents, and stayed in touch after the 2014 race season.

“Leading up to the 2015 race season, the Derek Daly Academy began outlining what a race sponsorship agreement would look like for Hull & Knarr. Additionally, DDA helped secure a position for Scott to drive the 2015 Lights season for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

“Becoming a sponsor significantly increased our presence in the paddocks and subsequently built our relationship with Sam Schmidt and his SPM team.”

For Schmidt, the Schmidt Peterson co-owner along with Ric Peterson, establishing business-to-business relationships is one of his key goals for his team. Having known Daly for a while and witnessed Anderson develop, he was keen to bring those two – and Hull & Knarr – on board for this past season.

“The Hull & Knarr program was introduced to SPM early 2015 understanding that it takes more to get to the top level than just talent unfortunately,” Schmidt told MotorSportsTalk.

“Scott is representative of what the Mazda Road to Indy is all about: a natural progression through the ranks of open wheel racing. The step from F2000 to Indy Lights in 2014 was a tall order, but he did an excellent job transitioning with a small team. In 2015 with additional information and teammates to draw from, he has become more consistent and should be competing for podiums in 2016.

“Kudos to the group at Hull & Knarr for taking an aggressive stance and working hard to grow their business through motorsports. They have done everything they have said they would and more, which of course is a rarity in business today.”

Anderson improved his overall performance in 2015, with eight top-seven finishes doubling the number from four in 2014, although due to the increased overall competition level with the new Dallara IL15 Mazda, he actually finished one position lower in points.

Nonetheless, Anderson’s year had its highlights, notably third place in the Freedom 100 to secure his first Indy Lights podium and arguably the pass of the year on Jack Harvey and Ed Jones, three-wide, into the Keyhole at Mid-Ohio.

Anderson – who’s an example of a young American driver trying to make it on the Mazda Road to Indy – explained the value of B2B relationships from the driver’s vantage point.

“After years of trying to make other sponsorships happen, (working with) Hull & Knarr almost feels easy,” the 25-year-old told MotorSportsTalk. “It’s much easier to show a company I’m approaching the benefits of partnering with Hull & Knarr, rather than try to make somebody outside of the racing world somehow understand how they could fit in. This is a much more obvious, simple way to approach to companies.

“They’re also just a great group of guys to work with. Doing business with them feels more like hanging out with friends, and we have similar passions outside the racing world. I’d say I’m pretty lucky to have a partnership that is so effective yet fun to be involved with.”

Ferrell praised Anderson’s work ethic and growth within the Mazda Road to Indy.

“As an athlete, Scott is one of those guys that excels at everything he’s passionate about,” he said. “Whether skiing, cycling or racing he always finds his way to the top of the talent pool. Most importantly, Scott is an example of a humble, talented kid, from a great family, that is willing to sacrifice whatever it takes to continue chasing his dream of becoming a driver for IndyCar.”

For Daly – who’s furthered many young careers through his academy and who of course has his own son, Conor, rumored to be finally breaking through for a full-time IndyCar seat in 2016 – seeing the benefit of all partners work together proves another success story. He’s worked with Anderson for four years.

“(Getting them in) made sure they had some skin in the game, important to any good partnership,” Derek Daly told MotorSportsTalk. “Then it was a matter of opening them up to the paddock. H&K can demonstrate to clients that if they want to use motorsports as a marketing platform, H&K can help fund that program with securing research tax credits. That is a portion of that newfound money can then be applied to the race budget. And a race budget at any level of competition as this is about the commercial work, not just the on track action.”

Daly’s Derek Daly Academy seminar for prospective young drivers and their parents will take place at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning at the Performance Racing Industry trade show, in Room 240. The event is open to those even without a PRI Show credential, and was moved to a Saturday to allow more youngsters to go.

On the whole, Ferrell wants to see Hull & Knarr’s motorsports program continue to grow into 2016.

“We were officially introduced to the motorsports world several years ago through our friend and client Andrew Heard of Xtrac,” Ferrell said. “Andrew had seen the positive cash flow impact that our service had in the cycling world and suggested Hull & Knarr help the rest of the motorsports world like we had helped the cycling world.

“While most race teams are not profitable and therefore can’t use the research tax credits we could find them, many of their sponsors and suppliers can benefit greatly. It was both Derek and Sam, that saw the value in having us help sponsors “find” additional funds to funnel back into their sponsorship programs.

“Because our professionals are engineers, Hull & Knarr is able to more accurately define and expand the footprint of a company’s qualified research. The output of this approach becomes our ability to consistently increase a particular company’s Research Tax Credits over what their accounting firm typically finds. The increase becomes the ‘found’ money that sponsors can flow back into their sponsorships.”

As ever, more money and more partnerships in racing are a good thing, so we’ll see how this continues into 2016.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”