SBD/February 14, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

Firestone Extends Deal As Official IndyCar Tire Through '14, Renews Indy Lights Entitlement

Firestone has been official tire for each IndyCar race since series started in ‘96
Bridgestone and IndyCar yesterday announced that Firestone will remain the IZOD IndyCar Series' official tire through at least ‘14, and the brand will also serve as title sponsor and official tire of the developmental Firestone Indy Lights series this year. As part of the agreement, talks are already underway to extend the IndyCar Series sponsorship beyond ‘14. Firestone has competed in every IndyCar race since the series was created in ‘96, and it has been the official tire and sole supplier since ‘00. The Firestone Indy Lights contract expired at the end of ’11. Per the agreement, Firestone will continue to support the series through broadcast, digital and print advertising; at-track hospitality; title sponsorship of the Firestone 550k at Texas Motor Speedway; and official tire designation at events. Firestone will also have an enhanced presence at the IZOD IndyCar Series Fan Village (IndyCar). SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL’s Tripp Mickle reports IndyCar also announced “a new five-year agreement with Discover, which will develop a series credit card.” It is the “first partner the series has had in the category since 2006 when it had a deal for affinity cards with MBNA.” Financial terms of the agreement were not available. Discover signed on as the credit card provider for IndyCar with First National Bank of Omaha, which will “issue a series of two IndyCar-themed credit cards.” Meanwhile, IndyCar has signed a deal with Fuzzy’s Vodka as well as a "new merchandising agreement with retailer Lids.” The Lids deal will put IndyCar merchandise “in more than 1,000 retail outlets nationwide,” and the company also “will take over management of IndyCar’s online merchandise sales.” IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said that sponsorship revenue is “on track to increase 5 percent from a year ago, and he expects that percentage to rise as more deals are signed during the season” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 2/13 issue).

MOVING FORWARD: RACER.com’s David Malsher noted Bernard during his ‘12 State of IndyCar address “ended the night with a pointed, confident message about the series' future and an attempt to deflect criticism.” Bernard said, “There were critics who said IndyCar was heading for doomsday and that the series would be out of business within two years. It just had one of the best financial years in its history. We heard some snickering about the new car from the ICONIC committee, but we're very proud to say we have Honda, Chevy and Lotus here tonight.” He added, “We faced doubt over the size of our field, having only 18 cars amid the economy. But wrong again. We are very excited to have a minimum of 26 cars compete in IZOD IndyCar Series in 2012. There's also been constant speculation about me. I will be with IndyCar as long as the Hulman/George family wants me. I will keep that promise I made when they gave me this opportunity. No one could deny we haven't made mistakes. We have. But our goal is to better it, and make it stronger. Let's sit back, buckle up and hold on tight, because 2012 promises to be a hell of a ride” (RACER.com, 2/13).
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