Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Hull & Knarr helping Scott Anderson make his way in MRTI

Leave a comment

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.

NHRA Phoenix winners: Steve Torrence, Tommy Johnson Jr., Erica Enders

Photos and videos courtesy NHRA
Leave a comment

Missing the season-opening race two weeks ago didn’t have much impact upon two-time defending NHRA Top Fuel champ Steve Torrence, as he roared to victory in Sunday’s finals of the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park near Phoenix.

“First round I had a little bit of the jitters,” Torrence said after the 37th win of his Top Fuel career, including 29 since the start of the 2017 season. “We missed [the season opener in Pomona, California] so you came here and this is the first round of the first race of the season for us and I was a little bit nervous to go up there.

“We’re just going to see how the races go and what the weather throws at us. I think that we’ve always had a good hot weather tune-up. We’re just going to try to develop cool track conditions. We’re easing up to it. We’ll just see how it goes and that’s something that we really need to try to put our thumb on.”

Torrence had a final round effort of 3.679 seconds at 321.27 mph to defeat runner-up Doug Kalitta. It was Torrence’s second career win at Phoenix. Torrence and his Capco Contractors dragster got to the final round after defeating, in order, Jim Maroney, Shawn Langdon and Steve’s father, Billy Torrence [in the semifinals].

In Funny Car, Tommy Johnson Jr. [3.883 seconds at 326.40 mph] earned his 18th career win in the class in what was an all-Don Schumacher Racing final round, defeating teammate Jack Beckman, who won the season-opening race at Pomona.

“We had a good car,” said Johnson, whose last Phoenix win came back in 2006. “The last qualifying run showed us that we have a solid car. Coming up here today, we had a lot of confidence. We went out first round and laid down a solid number.

“We weren’t low (elapsed time) but we were close. We came out second round and sat low ET so we knew we had a solid car. As a driver, going into each round knowing you have a car that’s going to perform makes your job a little easier. It gives you a little less stress. The guys did a great job. Even in Pomona we a had a good car, just dropped a cylinder second round and event had a little issue with that in qualifying here.”

In Pro Stock, three-time and defending champion Erica Enders won for the 26th time of her career in the class with a 6.531-second, 210.44 mph over Bo Butner.

“I’d have to say today was excellent,” Enders said. “Our objective coming in was to just get my car as happy as possible. We tested in Tucson on Wednesday, so coming in we were definitely optimistic and finally got our act together for that one fun on Saturday.

“The guys gave me a tremendous race car today. Very consistent, very fast and we just crushed the competition today and it was really fun.”

The third race of the 24-race NHRA national event schedule are one of the biggest races of the season, the Gatornationals, March 12-15 in Gainesville, Florida.

Here are the results from Sunday’s race:

FINAL FINISHING ORDER:

TOP FUEL: 1. Steve Torrence; 2. Doug Kalitta; 3. Billy Torrence; 4. Antron Brown; 5. Brittany Force; 6. Leah Pruett; 7. Shawn Langdon; 8. Justin Ashley; 9. Terry McMillen; 10. Clay Millican; 11. Scott Palmer; 12. Jim Maroney; 13. Doug Foley; 14. Terry Totten; 15. Austin Prock; 16. Shawn Reed.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Tommy Johnson Jr.; 2. Jack Beckman; 3. Ron Capps; 4. John Force; 5. Tim Wilkerson; 6. Bob Tasca III; 7. Jeff Diehl; 8. Jim Campbell; 9. Paul Lee; 10. Blake Alexander; 11. Alexis DeJoria; 12. Cruz Pedregon; 13. J.R. Todd; 14. Robert Hight; 15. Terry Haddock; 16. Matt Hagan.

PRO STOCK: 1. Erica Enders; 2. Bo Butner; 3. Jason Line; 4. Alex Laughlin; 5. Kenny Delco; 6. Jeg Coughlin; 7. Cristian Cuadra; 8. Chris McGaha; 9. Matt Hartford; 10. Fernando Cuadra Jr.; 11. Marty Robertson; 12. Aaron Stanfield; 13. Val Smeland; 14. Alan Prusiensky; 15. Greg Anderson; 16. Deric Kramer.

*************************************************

FINAL RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: Steve Torrence, 3.679 seconds, 321.27 mph def. Doug Kalitta, 4.052 seconds, 218.90 mph.

FUNNY CAR: Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 3.883, 326.40 def. Jack Beckman, Charger, 6.156, 119.31.

PRO STOCK: Erica Enders, Chevy Camaro, 6.531, 210.44 def. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.606, 209.33.

*************************************************

FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — Doug Kalitta, 3.711, 330.07 def. Shawn Reed, Foul – Red Light; Shawn Langdon, 3.717, 321.65 def. Clay Millican, 3.750, 321.42; Justin Ashley, 3.717, 312.21 def. Scott Palmer, 3.843, 288.21; Brittany Force, 3.643, 337.92 def. Terry Totten, 8.635, 84.50; Leah Pruett, 3.654, 331.12 def. Doug Foley, 5.328, 127.81; Steve Torrence, 3.717, 325.69 def. Jim Maroney, 4.436, 190.35; Antron Brown, 3.729, 326.95 def. Terry McMillen, Foul – Red Light; Billy Torrence, 3.683, 322.73 def. Austin Prock, 9.008, 78.60; QUARTERFINALS — Brown, 3.721, 326.87 def. Ashley, 10.031, 78.07; S. Torrence, 4.570, 203.31 def. Langdon, 5.170, 216.72; Kalitta, 3.695, 325.69 def. Force, 3.685, 334.15; B. Torrence, 3.703, 328.78 def. Pruett, 3.688, 324.20; SEMIFINALS — S. Torrence, 3.698, 329.58 def. B. Torrence, 3.699, 329.91; Kalitta, 3.672, 330.55 def. Brown, 4.360, 183.74; FINAL — S. Torrence, 3.679, 321.27 def. Kalitta, 4.052, 218.90.

FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 4.051, 318.02 def. Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 6.254, 109.34; Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.591, 248.16 def. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 7.416, 90.63; John Force, Camaro, 3.848, 335.90 def. Terry Haddock, Ford Mustang, 7.692, 86.52; Jeff Diehl, Toyota Camry, No Time def. Matt Hagan, Charger, DQ-CCL; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.878, 325.85 def. Paul Lee, Charger, 3.898, 320.05; Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.211, 318.99 def. Blake Alexander, Mustang, 5.172, 151.36; Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.979, 286.25 def. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 6.045, 111.71; Ron Capps, Charger, 3.905, 329.02 def. J.R. Todd, Camry, 6.383, 103.46; QUARTERFINALS — Beckman, 3.895, 329.42 def. Campbell, 8.959, 70.61; Force, 3.894, 332.43 def. Wilkerson, Foul – Red Light; Johnson Jr., 3.864, 323.74 def. Tasca III, Foul – Red Light; Capps, 4.184, 232.19 def. Diehl, Foul – Red Light; SEMIFINALS — Beckman, 3.882, 329.91 def. Force, 3.917, 326.63; Johnson Jr., 3.871, 319.98 def. Capps, 3.864, 328.06; FINAL — Johnson Jr., 3.883, 326.40 def. Beckman, 6.156, 119.31.

PRO STOCK: ROUND ONE — Alex Laughlin, Chevy Camaro, 6.548, 209.85 def. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.586, 208.68; Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.583, 209.46 def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 15.609, 67.56; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.649, 186.28 def. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 30.055, 23.82; Bo Butner, Camaro, 10.108, 78.96 def. Val Smeland, Camaro, Foul – Red Light; Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.601, 208.65 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 10.724, 93.79; Cristian Cuadra, Ford Mustang, 6.633, 208.10 def. Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, 7.162, 145.93; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.532, 210.37 def. Fernando Cuadra Jr., Mustang, 6.611, 207.91; Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.535, 210.11 def. Marty Robertson, Mustang, 6.634, 206.67; QUARTERFINALS — Line, 6.581, 210.01 def. C. Cuadra, 14.134, 51.15; Butner, 6.863, 167.32 def. Delco, Foul – Red Light; Laughlin, 6.546, 210.44 def. Coughlin, 6.810, 175.34; Enders, 6.526, 211.00 def. McGaha, Foul – Red Light; SEMIFINALS — Butner, 7.262, 147.44 def. Laughlin, Broke; Enders, 6.555, 210.28 def. Line, 6.582, 209.33; FINAL — Enders, 6.531, 210.44 def. Butner, 6.606, 209.33.

*************************************************

UPDATED POINT STANDINGS:

TOP FUEL: 1. Doug Kalitta, 212; 2. Brittany Force, 153; 3. Leah Pruett, 137; 4. Austin Prock, 131; 5. Steve Torrence, 121; 6. Justin Ashley, 108; 7. Antron Brown, 103; 8. Shawn Langdon, 91; 9. Clay Millican, 85; 10. Shawn Reed, 83.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Jack Beckman, 220; 2. Tommy Johnson Jr., 175; 3. John Force, 173; 4. Ron Capps, 128; 5. Matt Hagan, 124; 6. Tim Wilkerson, 107; 7. Robert Hight, 100; 8. Alexis DeJoria, 99; 9. Bob Tasca III, 87; 10. (tie) Paul Lee, 65; J.R. Todd, 65.

PRO STOCK: 1. Erica Enders, 203; 2. Jeg Coughlin, 197; 3. Jason Line, 168; 4. Kenny Delco, 132; 5. Bo Butner, 131; 6. Chris McGaha, 106; 7. Alex Laughlin, 104; 8. Matt Hartford, 85; 9. (tie) Cristian Cuadra, 82; Fernando Cuadra Jr., 82.

Follow @JerryBonkowski