Make us your home page
Instagram

Team E, Tampa Bay's only IndyLights racing team, gets radio show

TRINITY

Neil Enerson might as well invest in a lifetime supply of glass cleaner.

"Every morning the handprints are there," he said as another passer-by slowed to crawl speed to stare at his storefront windows.

What's behind the windows drawing all the gawkers is a sleek, shiny race car, with open wheels and a blue finish — viper blue to be exact.

It's the home of Team E, the only Firestone IndyLights racing team in the Tampa Bay area. And starting this weekend, it became the home of Race Day on Fox Sports Radio, a weekend show hosted by 39-year-old Odessa resident and Clear Channel veteran Rob D'Amico.

The show airs from 6 to 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday on 440 Fox affiliates, XM Sirius satellite radio Ch. 142, American Forces Network and Foxsports.com. The show also will get video exposure as it will be live streamed on SpeedTV.com starting Feb. 14.

"It's really a match made in heaven," Enerson said. His team got the show after someone told D'Amico about the existence of a local team. He then approached Enerson, and the two hatched a plan.

Enerson says hosting the show will go a long way toward putting Team E (the "E" is for Enerson) on the map and hopes that will also put it on the radar of sponsors. The team has the support of BergHOFF, a kitchenware dealer that has a store beside the race shop on State Road 54 in Trinity. BergHOFF leases the space to the team.

"We can give them a lot of value," said Enerson, who takes the car out to community events and also uses his race shop to host events.

Enerson, 52, who grew up a race fan in Indianapolis, has had the team since 2007 after he pumped about $1.4 million of his own money into the venture. He still owns a natural gas transport company that services fledgling residential subdivisions.

Enerson got into racing seven years ago when his son, R.C., began racing go-carts at age 5.

He met Bobby Wilson, an experienced driver who was tuning carts for his son. That prompted more discussions and eventually action.

The investment paid early dividends.

In only its sixth race in 2008, Team E won the Milwaukee Mile. Four races later, the No. 17 car took second at the Nashville Superspeedway. (The guitar trophy stands in front of the race shop window.) Team E and Wilson set the fastest race lap ever for an IndyLights car at Indianapolis, topping out at 191.466 mph, which broke the previous record by almost 1.5 mph.

The victories earned Team E the Firestone IndyLights New Team of the Year award for 2008. IndyLights is the Indy car racing equivalent of Triple A baseball.

Enerson sat out the 2009 season but plans to get back in this year. The first race is St. Petersburg's Grand Prix on March 28.

He's invested in a full-scale catering station for sponsors, pit cart with six flat-screen monitors and a posh transport system.

Enerson loves his toys, but treats them like business equipment.

"A race team has to be run like a business," said Enerson. "The successful people put together a business plan."

He would like to see more teams in the area and wants the state to pursue tax incentives for basing teams here, an established practice in Indiana.

He sees racing as a natural fit in helping diversify Florida's economy because of the state's mild year-round climate and the presence of so many forms of racing.

"At this time of year, the cars (up North) are in storage," he said.

Fast facts

On the Web

To learn more, visit www.racedayonfox.com and www.teameracing.com.

Team E, Tampa Bay's only IndyLights racing team, gets radio show 01/23/10 [Last modified: Monday, January 25, 2010 12:13pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pinellas construction licensing board needs to be fixed. But how?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– Everyone agrees that the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board needs to be reformed. But no one agrees on how to do it.

    Rodney Fischer, former executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board Rodney, at a February meeting. His management of the agency was criticized by an inspector general's report. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  2. New owners take over downtown St. Petersburg's Hofbräuhaus

    Retail

    ST. PETERSBURG — The downtown German beer-hall Hofbräuhaus St. Petersburg has been bought by a partnership led by former Checkers Drive-In Restaurants president Keith Sirois.

    The Hofbrauhaus, St. Petersburg, located in the former historic Tramor Cafeteria, St. Petersburg, is under new ownership.
[SCOTT KEELER  |  TIMES]

  3. Boho Hunter will target fashions in Hyde Park

    Business

    Boho Hunter, a boutique based in Miami's Wynwood District, will expand into Tampa with its very first franchise.

    Palma Canaria bags will be among the featured items at Boho Hunter when it opens in October. Photo courtesy of Boho Hunter.
  4. Gallery now bringing useful art to Hyde Park customers

    Business

    HYDE PARK — In 1998, Mike and Sue Shapiro opened a gallery in St. Petersburg along Central Ave., with a majority of the space dedicated to Sue's clay studio.

     As Sue Shapiro continued to work on her pottery in St. Petersburg, her retail space grew and her studio shrunk. Now Shapiro's is bringing wares like these to Hyde Park Village. Photo courtesy of Shapiro's.
  5. Appointments at Raymond James Bank and Saint Leo University highlight this week's Tampa Bay business Movers & Shakers

    Business

    Banking

    Raymond James Bank has hired Grace Jackson to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. Jackson will oversee all of Raymond James Bank's operational business elements, risk management and strategic planning functions. Kackson joins Raymond James Bank after senior …

    Raymond James Bank has hired Grace Jackson to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. [Company handout]