Perennial Road To Indy race winners, Exclusive Autosport will be making a move into the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires. The Michael Duncalfe led team has purchased a pair of IL-15s and is planning on fielding a couple of entries for the 2020 season.
“This is truly a dream come true,” explained Duncalfe. “When I started Exclusive Autosport in 2013, competing in the Road to Indy was always the goal; however, it seemed like a distant reality. To be sitting here, announcing that we are expanding to Indy Lights and have a four-tiered ladder system after seven years of competition, is one of the proudest moments of my career. This transition is a natural fit for the Exclusive Autosport program. Dan Andersen and the entire Road to Indy organization have been incredible to work with from day one. They have been very supportive of our efforts. We are thrilled to be a part of it. I want to thank my wife and children for all of their support and my incredible crew led by Mirl Swan. We are looking forward to what 2020 will bring.”
Exclusive Autosport’s entry into the top level of the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires means that the list of teams expecting to take part in the 2020 season will grow to five.
Like most, I had aspirations to be an IndyCar driver.” Duncalfe told TSO Ladder. “Obviously, that wasn’t realistic for me, because I didn’t understand the business side of things early on. I’m absolutely thrilled to still be in a sport that I absolutely love and that I’m very passionate about. It’s been an incredible journey.”
The team is headquartered in Saskatoon Saskatchewan, and the Road To Indy portion of the team will be based in Brownsburg, Indiana.
Exclusive Autosport will be one of two teams with seats available on all three rungs of the Road To Indy ladder. HMD Motorsports recently announced that their goal in 2020 is to run cars in all three series.
Exclusive Autosport will also continue their successful F1600 effort where the team has won 17 championships in Canada. That includes the 2019 Toyo Tires F1600 Championship and Formula 1600 Super Series Championship with driver Olivier Bedard.
“Running at every level of the North American open-wheel ladder gives drivers the ability to graduate within our program from F1600 to USF2000 to Indy Pro 2000 to Indy Lights,” said Duncalfe when TSO Ladder asked him about the benefits of having cars in all series. “We establish a great relationship with a driver and a family giving them confidence in the team and staff that they are working with. That only helps the driver to continue that relationship instead of having to build a relationship with a new team every year.”
Exclusive Autosport is an off-shoot of former racer Duncalfe’s driver development and management entity Exclusive Management; moving into racing and importing race cars in 2013.
The team expanded into the USF2000 Championship in 2017, running full season programs for fellow Canadian Parker Thompson and Dev Gore. Success came almost immediately with Thompson standing on the podium in the squad’s first weekend of Road To Indy action. Thompson ended the team’s rookie season in third place in the championship, collecting three wins and three pole starts along the way.
The team’s USF2000 success continued in 2018 with Igor Fraga fighting for top honors among the drivers not named Kyle Kirkwood.
Last year, the team also moved into the Indy Pro 2000 series, once again entering a new championship with Thompson. Thompson won three races, falling just short of the championship after a season-long battle with eventual winner Rinus van Kalmthout (VeeKay).
This year, Rookie Danial Frost extended the team’s Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires winning streak to three years, winning on the oval at Lucas Oil Raceway Park and the Exhibition Place street circuit in Toronto.
“The biggest thing is our ability to recognize what makes a driver tick and our ability to understand that every driver learns differently,” explained Duncalfe when asked what separates them from the other teams in the Road To Indy paddock. “We can adapt our program to what they need every year.”