SBJ/February 28 - March 6, 2011/Media

ESPN buying into new rallycross series

ESPN is completing a deal that will give it an equity stake in a new rallycross series that will include 10 races by 2013. Terms were not available.

The series, which was conceptualized by rally car driver and TV personality Tanner Foust’s manager, Brian Gale, will feature some of the top names in rally and action sports, including Foust, Brian Deegan, Dave Mirra and others. The drivers will compete in three races and then meet for a championship at the Summer X Games in Los Angeles this July.

The concept builds on the recent success of rally at Summer X Games. ESPN added the sport to its slate of action sports competitions in 2006 and has featured cars racing against each other at The Home Depot Center for five years. Rally cars careen through the stadium’s parking lot, speed over a series of bumps and a giant jump in the stadium, and race to beat each other across the finish line. Cars have flipped, crashed and launched through the air during the race, creating a spectacle that works well for spectators at the venue and watching on TV.

“From that first year of X Games until now, look what [rally has] become,” said Steve Astephen, a Wasserman Media Group principal who heads the agency’s action sports division. “It’s a sport that’s affordable, and it’s cars that people can afford and drive. Hats off to ESPN. This will be good entertainment.”

The three rallycross races that ESPN plans in 2011 will take place in Irwindale, Calif.; Pikes Peak, Colo.; and Snoqualmie, Wash. The first race will be taped and televised on ESPN2. The other two races will be taped and televised on ESPN. Initial plans show all three races following NASCAR Nationwide Series competition.

ESPN and Gale’s company, a partner in the series, plan to hold four races in 2012 plus races at the Summer and Winter X Games, respectively, and eight races in 2013 plus races at the Summer and Winter X Games.

The partners plan to sell title, presenting and associate sponsorships to the series. Those sponsorships won’t include the X Games.
At least four manufacturers will participate: Mitsubishi, Subaru, Hyundai and Ford.

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