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TOP RACING SPONSORS WON'T CRY OVER SPILLED INDY MILK
Published February 7, 1996
Pennzoil, Texaco and Indeck announced yesterday that they will sponsor the U.S. 500, CART's rival race to the IRL-backed Indy 500 on Memorial Day weekend. Those companies join Toyota and Mercedes Benz, who Monday pledged their sponsorship to the U.S. 500. Pennzoil is the primary sponsor for the Hall Racing Team, and Texaco co-sponsors the Newman-Hass Racing Team and three other races in the CART's PPG IndyCar World Series. U.S. 500 GM Rena Shanaman said the sponsors' support "will help us in producing a stellar show during Memorial Day weekend" (U.S. 500). FOLLOW THE LEADERS? Shanaman told THE DAILY that the sponsorship packages are very "cost-effective" as they run for $200,000 each, which includes a variety of promotional rights including TV, tickets and hospitality. Signage will be confined as there is a limited amount of space at Michigan International Speedway, the site of the race. Shanaman said the sponsors decided to link with the U.S. 500 because they "have made a commitment to PPG and IndyCar" and that "they want to remain consistent with their teams." Shanaman" "Ultimately, sponsors want to be at the best race on Memorial Day weekend. ... They want to be associated with a quality product." The next challenge for CART and sponsors is to convince viewers to tune into ESPN for a later start time than the traditional noon Indy start. She feels the traditional motorsports fan will watch the U.S. 500, but they have to attract the casual viewer to another race taking place. Shanaman: "It is not automatic to tune in to ABC on Memorial Day weekend" (THE DAILY). WHO WILL BLINK? In San Antonio, Dan Cook writes on the CART/IRL feud, adding "there aren't enough sponsors to go around for two leagues, so Detroit could have a loud say on the matter." But, he writes that the Big Three car-makers have been "amazingly silent ... probably waiting to see which side wins" (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS NEWS, 2/7).