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April 22, 2013

SFHR settles into new space on Main Street

SPEEDWAY — Tim McGovern, owner of McGovern Construction in Danville, has contributed to the landscape of the “Racing Capital of the World” by constructing the new Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing (SFHR) headquarters at 1255 Main St., Speedway.

McGovern said the project, which began in the last week of August 2012, is currently being finished and the team began moving in last week.

The facility, he said, is what’s called a precast structure building.

“It’s about 330,000 square feet,” McGovern said. “They have about 12,000 square feet of office space ... they have a very unique lobby, they have a gym area, they have a very nice kitchen, locker rooms for men and women, and engineering rooms — it’s a very nice building.”

McGovern said the building cost was right at $2.3 million and will serve as the race team’s all-encompassing headquarters.

“This is their business headquarters, but it’s also where they build their race cars,” he said. “They have about a 20,000 square-foot shop that contains a machine shop, paint areas, and the gear room.”

He said the building will also be aesthetically pleasing.

“On the outside ... it’s what they call their race car plaza, where they have a lot of their events and the race cars sitting on the outside,” McGovern said. “It’s a very, very neat plaza with a lot of cool landscaping around it.”

As for his business, McGovern said it was started 19 years ago after he decided to leave another construction company.

“They were a very good company, I had nothing against them,” he said. “I just wanted a piece of the pie and went out on my own 19 years ago, but not every year has been a glamorous year.”

He said building the SFHR headquarters qualifies as a highlight of his company.

“As far as Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing goes, they’ve been a great customer ... it was definitely the highest profile job that we’ve done,” McGovern said. “It wasn’t the biggest building that we’ve done, but it was definitely the highest profile job.”

He said his company does a variety of jobs, including churches, industrial buildings, houses, and commercial buildings.

“I came from a construction background of doing everything,” McGovern said. “In this (economic time) we’re in, you’d better know all sides of residential, industrial, and commercial areas if you’re going to make it right now.”

SFHR Team Manager Mike O’Gara said the team is moving in right at the beginning of the racing season.

“We raced in Long Beach, Calif., last weekend, so the plan was to start moving things (that week),” he said. “Basically, when the guys come back from California they will return to the new shop. We hope to have most everything over there to the new shop beginning that following week.”

Generally, he said, this type of move would be done during a less hectic time.

“Ideally, you want to make this kind of move, for us ... in the offseason, in the fall or winter,” O’Gara said. “It obviously adds a little bit of a challenge, because when we come back from California, basically we have three days to have all our stuff packed up to go to Brazil. It’s a bit of a challenge, the timing is right now, just to get the move done, as well as continue racing every other weekend.”

Even though the timing isn’t exactly perfect, O’Gara said everyone is ready for the move and to begin using the new space.

“We’re excited about it,” he said. “It’s going to be a lot more usable space for the mechanics. It’s going to give us a chance to hopefully continue to improve our products, our race car, and continue to keep moving and getting better results and improving the performance of the car. We see the new shop as a benefit for all of that.”

O’Gara added that the new space will allow a lot more work to be done in-house, which will allow for more control.

“IndyCar racing is all about getting that competitive edge,” he said.

“You’re looking at hundredths of a second to beat the next guy. Every little top secret part that we can make, those things that we can keep under our roof, we see as a way to beat those other teams out there.”

Another important aspect of the new building is its location, which is front and center on Main Street in Speedway. O’Gara said the new facility will have a place for fans to learn the history of SFHR, take photos, buy fan gear, and more.

“We’re working hard with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to possibly have some older cars there as well from the museum,” he said. “Fans can kind of see the difference between a 2013 IndyCar and one from maybe the ‘40s or ‘50s and see how the technology and safety has evolved. You can go to the museum and see those old cars, but now you’ll be able to see them side by side. So you can look at them and really compare them. I think kids and adults both will find that interesting.”

As the team readies for the move, O’Gara said everyone is happy with the work McGovern has done.

“Sarah and her husband, Andy, have known Tim for a long time,” he said. “I had known of him, but I had never worked with him. We’re certainly impressed with the work he’s done. Everything so far has come back under budget and he’s been actually ahead of schedule on things that he can control.”

steven.penn@flyergroup.com

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