Andretti Autosport putting Ryan Hunter-Reay’s IndyCar up for auction

Ryan Hunter-Reay’s current IndyCar, seen here, is going on the auction block later this month.

Andretti Autosport is making a bold move to secure additional funding for its Verizon IndyCar Series team. The organization is putting Ryan Hunter-Reay’s No. 28 DHL Honda on the auction block at the end of January, selling the chassis now before it will reach the end of its life cycle in 2018. You can view Monday’s auction listing here.

The team is hoping to fetch somewhere between $650,000 and $700,000 for the chassis, which Hunter-Reay began racing in 2014 and will continue to use on IndyCar’s oval tracks for three more seasons unless it is wrecked (in which case there is an unspecified contingency plan). When the car is retired in 2018, whoever wins the auction will get the vehicle restored to the aero kit with which Hunter-Reay won the 2014 Indianapolis 500, save the engine, which remains the property of manufacturer Honda.

But fans aren’t just bidding on the No. 28 itself. Andretti’s auction package also includes a pair of season-long team credentials and hospitality passes for every IndyCar race from March’s 2016 season opener to the 2018 Indianapolis 500. On top of that, the winner then gets four additional single-event credentials and hospitality passes to be used for guests at each event, except for runnings of the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and the Indy 500.

To put that into perspective, a race day-only reserved seat for this year’s Grand Prix of Long Beach will cost a race fan $87, with a pit and garage pass being an extra $27. While ticket prices vary by event, at sixteen races per season it’d cost someone roughly $1,824 just to get in the gate and paddock for an entire IndyCar season. That puts the value of the two sets of offered credentials at $10,944 – not counting the hospitality passes or the guest passes.

Racer reports that the decision to sell off Hunter-Reay’s car is to supplement Andretti Autosport’s budget and explore alternative funding methods. While a bold way of going about finding money, it’s not entirely surprising given that the 2015 off-season saw drivers exit the series because of a lack of sponsorship. Even Andretti’s fellow Big Three team Chip Ganassi Racing slimmed down to three cars because of uncertainty regarding the future of the No. 8 previously driven by Sage Karam.

The question will be if there’s anyone out there who has the pockets deep enough that they possess six figures of disposable income. The average race fan couldn’t afford one percent of the projected price. That means prospective buyers for the No. 28 are likely to come from the very rich or perhaps even other companies. Having those credentials and guest passes might be attractive for a business that has clients to entertain. But then what would be the difference between spending this money and simply negotiating a sponsorship deal?

It will be interesting to see if Andretti is able to find a buyer when the auction kicks off at the end of the month. Should they get the money they’re looking for, we could see other race teams looking at leveraging the future of their equipment to fund their operations in the present.

The Andretti lot will go up for auction Jan. 29-30 through Gooding & Company.

For more on the Verizon IndyCar Series, visit the league’s website.

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