Helio Castroneves re-signs for 2023 season with Meyer Shank Racing in IndyCar

Helio Castroneves Meyer Shank
Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

MADISON, Illinois — There was no chance Meyer Shank Racing would risk four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves making history with another team.

Curtailing that possibility, the team announced a one-year contract extension Friday that will bring Castroneves back for a 26th full IndyCar season. Castroneves won his fourth Indy 500 in 2021 driving a part-time schedule for MSR as Castroneves was desperately fighting off a forced slide toward retirement.

Michael Shank believed in the popular Brazilian and last year’s Indy win led to a full season at MSR’s expanded two-car organization. Castroneves, 47, is insistent he’s got plenty of gas in his tank.

“I don’t want anyone else to win a fifth Indy 500,” Shank told The Associated Press. “He’s very emotional about this, he’s going down swinging. I think he’d like to do at least one more (full) year and then maybe try just Indy? And then do some other things, too. He wants to stay involved, he wants to use what he’s strong at, and we support him 100%.”

It’s hardly been the breakout season Shank had expected when Castroneves’ program was expanded into a full season and Simon Pagenaud became available at the same time Jack Harvey, the team’s first driver, left for Rahal Letterman Lanigan.

Castroneves is 18th in the standings, has led only one lap all year and finished seventh at Indy; Pagenaud is 12th in the standings and was eighth at Indy, and Shank believes will have a strong close to his first season with MSR.

They race Saturday night at World Wide Technology Raceway Gateway outside St. Louis, where Castroneves has an impressive record. In six career starts spanning both CART and IndyCar, Castroneves has one victory and has never finished lower than ninth. In three IndyCar races, his average finish is 2.3.

It has created hope for strong results from MSR on Saturday night at the final oval on this year’s IndyCar calendar. Castroneves has not raced Gateway since 2017.

He has admittedly struggled to adjust to the cockpit-protecting aeroscreen – which was added by IndyCar while Castroneves was competing full-time in sports cars following his nearly two decades with Team Penske – and his results this season have been inconsistent. Shank is planning personnel changes to Castroneves’ team.

“I didn’t expect how difficult it was. We are making some changes internally to make sure these last three races, we continue to improve,” Castroneves said. “This aeroscreen literally threw a curveball to find a sweet spot, taking longer than I expected for myself to adapt and to understand what the car needs. But we’re pushing. I feel like we could be better.

“But remember, it’s the first full-time season that I’m in. Certainly we’re preparing for bigger things in the future.”

Shank isn’t so much bothered by the results because of the value Castroneves brings to the team sponsors. The charismatic Brazilian is an entertainer – he won his season of “Dancing With the Stars” in 2007 – and is a hit at partner functions.

“Let’s just put the Indy 500 to the side for a minute, the relationship he’s had with our sponsors and our partners is like next-level (stuff) I’ve never seen before,” Shank told AP. “He is so good with people. Everyone wants him at their events, dinners, meet-and-greets, he’s just exceptional. And we have to deliver what our sponsors want.”

Castroneves has no idea how long he’d like to race, but he knows he has no plans to slow down. In addition to his extension with MSR, Castroneves is lobbying for a seat in the Daytona 500 with Trackhouse Racing and its Project91 program. Trackhouse wants to bring international drivers from other formulas to NASCAR and debuts Project91 this weekend with Formula One 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen.

Trackhouse team owner Justin Marks has said conversations with Castroneves are on pause until the team gets through its debut with Raikkonen. But Castroneves wants to be in the Daytona 500 and anything else he can fit into his schedule; he also participated in Tony Stewart’s all-star series for a second consecutive year this summer and his victory in the opener is what led to Daytona talks.

“You can’t put a number on it. I have the potential, the dedication, and I know I can do the results, and have the team and people behind,” Castroneves said about how long he plans to race. “The reason I’m still going for it is because I believe in all these aspects. I’m going to keep moving forward until I get the result.

“Obviously you get to a point that you’ve got to realize and as of right now, I don’t feel that in my gut. I feel I have a lot left in the tank. The number is just an age.”

Beta Motorcycles joins SuperMotocross in 2024, Benny Bloss named first factory rider

Beta Motorcycles 2024 Bloss
Beta Motorcycles

Benny Bloss will race for the factory Beta Motorcycles team in 2024 as that manufacturer joins SuperMotocross as the ninth brand to compete in the series. Beta Motorcycles will make their debut in the Monster Energy Supercross opener at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California in January.

Benny Bloss finished among the top 10 twice in Pro Motocross, in 2016 and 2018. – Beta Motorcycles

“The wait is over and we can finally share everything we have been working towards,” said Carlen Gardner, Race Team Manager in a press release. “It has been a great experience being a part of this development and seeing the progression. The only missing part was finding a rider that would mesh well with our Beta Family.

“After a one phone call with Benny, we knew it would be a good fit for him, and for us. We are happy to have him on board for the next two years and can’t wait to see everyone at Anaheim in January.”

Bloss debuted in the 450 class in 2015 with a 15th-place finish overall at Ironman Raceway in Crawfordsville, Indiana.

Bloss has a pair of top-10 rankings in the division with a sixth-place finish in the Pro Motocross Championship in 2016 and a seventh in 2018. His best Supercross season ended 15th in the standings in 2018.

“I’m extremely excited to join the Beta Factory Racing team,” Bloss said. “It’s cool to see a brand with such a rich history in off-road racing to come into the US Supercross and Motocross space. I know this team will be capable of great things as we build and go racing in 2024.”

Bloss is currently 22nd in the SuperMotocross rankings and has not raced in the first two rounds of the Motocross season.

Testing for Beta Motorcycles is scheduled to begin in August and the team expects to announce a second rider at that time.

The family-owned brand adds to the international flare of the sport. The company was founded in Florence, Italy in 1905 as Società Giuseppe Bianchi as they built handmade bicycles, The transition to motorcycle production in the late 1940s.

Beta Motorcycles competed and won in motocross competition in the late 1970s and early 1980s with Jim Pomeroy and other riders.

Beta will join Triumph Motorcycles as a second historic brand to join the sport in 2024. First established in 1902, Triumph has won in nearly every division they have competed in, dating back to their first victory in the 1908 Isle of Man TT. Triumph will debut in the 250 class in 2024 and plans to expand into 450s in 2025.