HMD Motorsports is preparing to take its operation to the next level.
The team, founded by Henry Malukas, has been operating out of a 6,500 square-foot shop in Brownsburg, Indiana, but recently revealed a move on the horizon with a new, 65,000 square-foot headquarters also in Brownsburg.
The new home is already being converted from its lineage as a Marsh grocery store, last open in 2017, into a facility that will provide everything for HMD Motorsports to expand from its current status of 35 full-time employees at the shop, along with nine entries this year in INDY NXT by Firestone series.
“While being in Brownsburg, our Team Manager AJ Smith, saw the sign go up on this building and decided to explore the options there, and it became something we wanted to pursue,” said Mike Maurini, general manager of HMD Motorsports. “Now, the designs are done, the drawings are done. Demolitions already happened. (On Thursday) they just signed off on some paperwork to start the renovation side of it. The goal is to be in there as soon as possible, but it's going to be a facility that we don't need to move from anytime soon despite whether there is growth or not.”
The facility, which is going to be structured “like a surgeon’s office,” will include engineering and executive offices, boardrooms, a 3,000 square-foot gym, a sauna and a group of apartments. There will be eight to 10 truck bays, including spots for motor homes. Additionally, HMD no longer will need to outsource various items like car wrapping and decal work. There also will be a room dedicated to fabrication design.
“It's just going be a full race shop,” Maurini said. “The goal is to do at least eight (cars) in INDY NXT in 2024. Then we'll see from there. Aspirations to be involved in the INDYCAR program on more of a full-time basis; a standalone program has not been out-ruled by any means. There's always the passion for that, but obviously, the dollars and cents have to make sense for that to move forward.
“The renovation of that building is a personal expense on Henry's behalf as an investment into the business, but we still have our operating capital to operate as one with our nine drivers. Payroll comes out of our operating capital, tires and engine leases and all that stuff. So, it's definitely a cash flow. We have to make sure the cash flow works. We haven't had to go to Henry and say, ‘Henry, we need to borrow $100,000 or $1 million.’ It's all been funded with the payment plan of our driver programs.
“We know at the end of the day, we're a pass-through company. We're going to have drivers that come with us and race one, two, maybe three years, and they're going to pass through and go race in INDYCAR hopefully, or IMSA or something some other way. If the future holds one of those two programs for us, or both of those two programs for us, then maybe we can keep our current customers for a longer period of time.”
While the focus is to expand the program, Maurini is quick to acknowledge HMD Motorsports’ already staggering growth.
The organization fielded two entries for the 2019 campaign in INDY NXT, with the following season canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. HMD returned with five cars – two partnered with Global Racing Group – and went on to win the team’s championship, with David Malukas, Henry’s son, finishing second in the driver’s championship. Last year, HMD Motorsports expanded its presence to six cars and increased again for 2023 to its current status of nine cars in INDY NXT. HMD also partnered with Dale Coyne Racing in David Malukas’ step up into the NTT INDYCAR SERIES in 2022, ending up with runner-up honors for Rookie of the Year.
“As much as I want us going to race INDYCAR this season as a standalone program, probably not the right time,” Maurini said. “Is 2024 the right time? Maybe. Is 2025 the right time? Yeah, maybe. It all depends on drivers that we have, the economy and stuff like that. It's definitely a plan for the future and a goal. The way the shop is being built and structured is very much to suit those needs.”
The focus isn’t just on a heavier presence in North America’s premier open-wheel championship, either. Maurini said HMD may move into sports car racing, too.
Maurini also shared plans for a driver program for down the road as HMD Motorsports looks to return a presence in USF2000 and USF Pro 2000. In that situation, though, there isn’t a desire to own the equipment but rather align with drivers or teams that have an established program.
“We are definitely looking at that maybe like a Ferrari junior program or a Red Bull junior program,” he said. “It could be an HMD junior program with a goal of, once everything is all set up properly, maybe this program in INDY NXT, or this IMSA LMP3 program or this NTT INDYCAR SERIES program, which path do you want to take and how can we help you?”
Overall, the heavier the presence, the harder it is to be ignored.
“The more times your team gets mentioned, the bigger you're seen and the bigger you feel and maybe the more people that are attracted to you,” Maurini said. “I think the results have gone in our favor for the past two seasons ... our goal is always to win. If your goal is not to win in racing, I'm not sure really what you're doing. Our goal is to win. It's not easy. If winning was easy, the losers would do it.”
A grand opening is planned for the new headquarters, with Maurini providing a mental picture of what he expects it to be once someone walks through the front doors, and the long-term mindset for HMD Motorsports.
“If everybody has seen the video of the new Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing shop, their entryway and how they come into the building and how big and prestigious the entryway looks, ours is going to be similar to that,” he said. “We have big plans for that. We want to have a merchandise store there. We want people to be able to buy HMD merchandise, whether it be an HMD hat or be an INDY NXT driver's hat. We want to do that. Virtually, we want to have an online store that we can do. Walk into the lobby and have a viewing area, but they can't go into the shop portion. It's all going to be controlled by key cards. Very much the next level.
“I guess you could say it's like we're essentially an INDYCAR team operating in the NXT program where we're racing against an INDYCAR team in Andretti (Autosport). To beat them, we have to operate like them. Our facility currently is 6,500 square feet. I think they're 80,000 or 90,000 square feet. They have four Indy cars to lean off of and those engineers; we don't have any of that right now. We're getting to that stage where I think we can. We've been able to compete, but we want to dominate.”