After 15 years, Taylor Kiel steps down as Arrow McLaren SP's president; no reason given
Taylor Kiel, Arrow McLaren SP's team president and a longtime staple for the IndyCar team, has stepped down from his post effective Tuesday, McLaren Racing has announced.
No reason for Kiel's departure was given, with the team noting in a release, "As the team grows to three cars for the 2023 (IndyCar season), announcements on team management will be made in due course."
On Twitter, Kiel wrote on Tuesday: “It’s been an honor to work for Arrow McLaren SP for more than a decade. As I step away, I am most proud of growing this team into a powerhouse able to fight for championships and wins each week. I now look forward to spending time with my own growing family and whatever’s next!”
Kiel's decision comes at a time of massive growth and expansion for the team. Months after he was promoted to team president from managing director in January 2021, McLaren Racing took a 75% majority ownership stake in Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson's IndyCar program late last year. This season, AMSP was run by a five-person board that included McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown, as well as Schmidt, Peterson and two other unnamed McLaren appointees, with Kiel leading the team's day-to-day operations and reporting directly to the board.
This spring, Kiel and Brown announced in May a new contract extension through 2025 for Pato O'Ward, after the Mexican driver had made public his unhappiness with his current deal. In the months since, the team has confirmed its expansion to three full-time cars for next season, landing longtime Andretti Autosport driver Alexander Rossi.
Though Kiel ultimately didn't call the shots, he helped his team weather a wave of uncertainty regarding its third seat for 2023 in recent months. In June, McLaren Racing announced it signed Felix Rosenqvist to a new multi-year deal within the greater McLaren Racing family and said he would be assigned to its new Formula E team or keep his seat in IndyCar. Weeks later, McLaren announced it had signed 2021 IndyCar champ Alex Palou to a similar McLaren at-large deal -- though it was long presumed Palou would replace the Swedish driver in IndyCar.
As it turned out, Rosenqvist had never actually signed the Formula E paperwork, and McLaren only held an IndyCar team option on Rosenqvist for 2023 that would expire Sept. 30 -- made all the more tenuous as it navigated from afar Palou's lawsuit with Chip Ganassi Racing, his IndyCar home that filed a civil case when it believed he was in violation of his deal with them. Hours before McLaren announced Palou's signed the evening of July 12, CGR announced it had picked up Palou's team option for 2023.
After weeks of legal back-and-forth between Palou and Ganassi's lawyers and multiple mediation sessions, the sides announced last week that Palou would stay in his No. 10 CGR seat for 2023 but would be allowed to test with McLaren's Formula 1 team when such sessions were not in conflict with his IndyCar duties. Minutes later, McLaren announced that Rosenqvist would return to the IndyCar program for 2023 to drive alongside Rossi and O'Ward.
Along with its driver circus, AMSP also announced this year its plans for a brand-new, state-of-the-art team headquarters in Whitestown. According to that late-May release, the team had planned to break ground on that facility this August or September, though it's uncertain if that's taken place yet or not. Plans were in place for the new 97,000 square-foot facility to be operational in late-2023 or early-2024 and more than double the size of the team's current facility. Though undecided at the moment, the new facility could be the home of a future IMSA sportscar program, Brown told reporters recently.
On-track, Kiel had presided over a reinvigorated IndyCar program in recent years that finished 4th (2020) and 3rd (2021) with O'Ward in the title race after landing just one top-10 in the drivers' championship since Simon Pagenaud's departure after the 2014 campaign. With O'Ward, who Kiel served as strategist for, the young Mexican driver had landed five starts on pole and four victories during his three-year tenure. Though 2022 proved a down year for O'Ward in terms of his championship finish (7th), hurt by three DNFs not of the drivers' fault, the campaign represented Rosenqvist's resurgence amidst speculation about his career future and a rough onboarding to AMSP in 2021, where he finished 21st in points.
Rosenqvist, along with O'Ward, delivered AMSP's best Indianapolis 500 to date in 2022, finishing 4th and 2nd, respectively, along with one-off driver Juan Pablo Montoya in 11th.
Following in the footsteps of his stepfather Mike Hull -- longtime managing director with Chip Ganassi Racing -- Kiel joined what was then a largely Indy Lights-focused Sam Schmidt Motorsports in 2008, literally sweeping floors to get his foot in the door. There, he learned the ropes on everything from fixing gearboxes, installing engines, and building parts for two title-winning entries (including Josef Newgarden in 2011), and starting with the 2012 season, the Indianapolis-native moved over to the IndyCar side.
By 2018, he was named the team's managing director.