SBD/Issue 151/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Izod Focused On Reintroducing Sense Of Glamour To IndyCar Series

IRL Sought To Find New Fans,
Like Wahlberg, In Hollywood

Izod is bringing a "new way of thinking" to the IndyCar Series, as it is focused on "reintroducing a sense of glamour to the sport," according to Bruce Martin of SI.com. There has "always been an element of glamour connected with IndyCar, and Izod plans to highlight that connection with some innovative and ambitious marketing plans." A section of Hollywood Boulevard last Thursday was shut down so the Izod IndyCar Series "could throw a Hollywood street party" called "The Race to the Party." While the drivers "may have been the main attraction, Hollywood brought along its own contingent of star power, including actor Mark Wahlberg, who served as the grand marshal" of last Sunday's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, "hip hop mogul P. Diddy and rock group Camp Freddy, which features Dave Navarro." Phillips-Van Heusen Exec VP/Marketing Mike Kelly "sensed genuine interest from Wahlberg, who wants to get more involved in IndyCar." Kelly: "Mark loves this. I think we have a new fan, no question. When you think of Paul Newman, a guy like Mark Wahlberg could get involved in our sport and be today's version of that." Driver Graham Rahal said of Izod, "The activation that Izod is putting into this is pretty impressive and it's a lesson for all the other sponsors. I hope we can really make it big." Martin noted aside from the street party, a "pit stop competition was also held on Hollywood Boulevard featuring the Indy Racing Experience two-seaters," and Guillermo Martinez, a regular on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live," was seen "changing tires on an Izod IndyCar Series car" (SI.com, 4/19).

NEED TO CREATE STARS: IRL CEO Randy Bernard feels the IndyCar Series does not do a "good job at showing the stars we have.” Bernard noted he had “several meetings” after last month’s Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, where he “talked about showing the legends in our sport and attaching that to the up and coming stars we have in the series.” Bernard: “With the intros what we need to do is showcase them in a huge fashion, coming onto that stage.” With the circuit in Long Beach last weekend, Bernard wondered, “How many producers and Hollywood people are going to come down? ... Why not take advantage of that? Here we are in the number two market in the United States. If we are going to spend a significant amount of money on a promotion, let’s do it in one of the biggest cities in the United States” (AUTORACING1.com, 4/20).

FULL WEEKEND IN LONG BEACH: Grand Prix Association of Long Beach President & CEO Jim Michaelian said there were "more activities on and off the track than ever before" around this year's Grand Prix of Long Beach last week. Michaelian: "We got started with that huge crowd on Tecate Thunder Thursday on Pine and it just kept on growing right through race day." In Long Beach, Karen Robes Meeks notes "at least 170,000 people attended Grand Prix [events] over the three-day weekend, with 65,000 people on Sunday." Michaelian: "Those numbers are comparable to where they were last year, but the fact that we had the benefit last year of the reunification, it was important for us to try to get to that level again this year" (Long Beach PRESS TELEGRAM, 4/20).

COMMUNICATION BREAKDOWN: In Indianapolis, Curt Cavin reported some IndyCar teams blamed series officials "for not communicating the allowance" of an "advantageous ride control system," and other similarly approved parts, as far back as '08. Some team owners are "so upset with the Indy Racing League's lack of communication that they submitted a written complaint this weekend," noting that "continuing development raises the cost of participation." Bernard said that the ride control system "will remain eligible for use," but that "controlling costs remains a priority for the series" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 4/18).

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