James Sullivan, the S in SH Racing, informed Tomas Scheckter a few minutes before the news conference that introduced the veteran IZOD IndyCar Series driver as part of the ceremonial first entrant for the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500 that his was the first driver autograph Sullivan sought at a racetrack.
“It brought a tear to my eye,” Scheckter deadpanned.
Nine years later, they’ll be working together. Scheckter will drive the No. 07 Team REDLINE car in a partnership between SH Racing and KV Racing Technology. It marks SH Racing’s initial foray into the IZOD IndyCar Series and a fourth car for KV Racing Technology when the 2.5-mile racetrack opens for practice May 15.
Scheckter, the 2002 Indy 500 co-Rookie of the Year, will seek to make his 10th start in the race May 29. He has a best qualifying position of 10th (2002, ‘04 and ‘07) and a best finish of fourth in 2003 for Target Chip Ganassi Racing.
“Walking through KV’s shop, they have a lot of things together,” said Scheckter, 30, of South Africa. “Obviously, with Tony (Kanaan) joining that brings a very high level to the team and a lot of expectations. ‘Sulli’ and (VPX/Redline vice president) TJ Humphreys, the other half of SH Racing, bring a lot of new energy to the team.
“I’m looking forward to a quick car at the Speedway, where I’ve come close a number of times to winning, but coming close and winning is two different things. At this stage of my career, putting myself with a good organization like this, I really do feel like I have a shot at winning this race.”
Sullivan is new to IndyCar, but not racing. He handled the marketing side of teams with Holigan Racing, which had riders in motocross, supercross and action sports.
“Tomas and our organization have gelled from day one and I could not be more pleased to have him in the seat,” Sullivan said. "SH Racing came together a year ago this week with the aim to field an entry in the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500. My background is supercross and motocross and that's how I came to know (KV Racing Technology general manager) Mark Johnson. We worked very close in our supercross and motocross days. Mark introduced me to (KVRT co-owner) Jimmy Vasser and within a few days we put a partnership together."
It will be the second consecutive year that KV Racing Technology will have four cars running in the Indianapolis 500. The team fields full-season entries for Kanaan, Takuma Sato and E.J. Viso. Kanaan and Sato finished in the top five in the season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 27.
“Sulli, his partner TJ Humphreys, Mark Johnson and I talked extensively about the possible candidates to drive the Team REDLINE Xtreme machine and I am very excited that we all agreed that Tomas was the right driver," Vasser said.