On Friday, October 2, fans around the world were a little puzzled to learn that Liberty Media—the media company that owns Formula One—had invested in the Meyer Shank Racing team. MSR competed in IndyCar and IMSA, not F1, which meant speculation ensued about a possible new F1 team joining the mix. And while that’s likely not the case, the Liberty Media-MSR partnership makes a lot more sense than you’d think.
Meyer Shank Racing was founded back in 1989 by Michael Shank and has grown ever since. It has kicked ass in sportscar racing and recently turned its part-time IndyCar program into a full-time effort.
In 2017, though, a man named Jim Meyer became a co-owner of the team, seeing it rebrand from Michael Shank Racing to Meyer Shank Racing. The big key here is Meyer’s day job. He became the CEO of SiriusXM in 2013 after spending nine years as its President of Sales and Operations. He brought with him the SiriusXM sponsorship you can see emblazoned on the side of MSR’s machines.
Liberty Media owns a 71 percent share in SiriusXM. So, if you follow the chain long enough, you’ll find that Liberty Media’s interest in MSR has a lot less to do with F1 than it does with the company it owns a majority stake in.
If you read MSR’s press release on the matter, things get even clearer. Liberty has made a minority equity investment in the team, which can be a little complex to understand. To put it simply, it means Liberty owns less than 50% of one of its subsidiary companies. And since MSR falls under the SiriusXM banner, it would be considered subsidiary to Liberty Media. Liberty doesn’t really have a controlling stake in the team, but it does want to see the team succeed.
Basically, we’re probably going to see Liberty Media provide some funding for the team, but it can’t really dictate what the team should do, and it won’t profit off the team.
It does not mean that this is a sign MSR will be heading to F1. In fact, it probably just means that, with a fairly successful IndyCar program and a newfound Acura prototype program in IMSA, MSR saw value in a boost from Liberty, and Liberty saw value in getting its name out to larger audiences.