South African veteran driver Tomas Scheckter will be back for his tenth appearance at the famed Indianapolis 500. He'll be behind the wheel of the #7 Team REDLINE Xtreme car run as a joint venture between KV Racing Technology and series newcomers SH Racing.
Scheckter, who is the son of 1979 F1 world champion Jody, also became the first official entrant in the 2011 Indy 500 by ceremonially handing in his paperwork in person while at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
"I am jacked to announce that I'll will be driving the REDLINE Xtreme machine for the Indy 500," said Scheckter, speaking at the announcement at IMS. "I had been speaking with SH Racing for about six months, and when I found out they were partnered with KV Racing Technology, I knew this was the complete package.
"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 organisation like this, I really do feel like I have a shot at winning this race."
Scheckter has competed in 115 IndyCar races over the last ten years, scoring two wins among 18 top five finishes. His best year was 2003, when he finished fourth in both the Indy 500 and in the IndyCar championship. Ten certainly seems to be the magic number for Scheckter this year: as well as his tenth Indy 500, where his best qualifying position has been tenth in 2002, 2004 and 2007, this year also marks his tenth consecutive season appearing in IndyCar.
"Scheckter embodies everything we were looking for in a pilot for the Team REDLINE Xtreme entry," said SH Racing team boss James Sullivan at the announcement. "Scheckter and our organization have gelled from day one and I could not be more pleased to have him in the seat."
Sullivan even revealed that, nine years ago, Scheckter's was the first driver autograph he had got at a racetrack: "It brought a tear to my eye [to learn that]," quipped Scheckter in response.
"We are thrilled to have formed a partnership with SH Racing and its primary sponsor REDLINE Xtreme Energy for the 100th Anniversary of the Indy 500," said KVRT co-owner Jimmy Vasser. His team will now be involved in fielding four drivers at Indianapolis for a second consecutive year, with Scheckter joined by Tony Kanaan, Takuma Sato and EJ Viso who are in KVRT's joint venture with Lotus. Last year, KVRT fielded Paul Tracy and Mario Moraes alongside Sato and Viso.
By contrast this will be SH Racing's first IndyCar campaign. "My background is supercross and motocross and that's how I came to know Mark Johnson [KVRT's general manager]", explained Sullivan. He formed the team last July with the express intention of fielding an Indy entry in 2011, and announced the link-up with KVRT in October. As well as Sullivan (who is the 'S' in the SH) the team is co-owned by sports nutrition company VPX/Redline's VP of Business Development, TJ Humphreys (the 'H'.)
Sullivan was born in England but was educated at Baylor University in Texas and is now a businessman in Dallas.