Firestone To Title Sponsor St. Petersburg IndyCar Race Following Honda Departure
Promoters of the IndyCar race in St. Petersburg yesterday said that they had "a new backer" in Firestone, with the race to be renamed the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, according to Drew Harwell of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. The move comes one month after longtime sponsor Honda "suddenly dropped out." Race President Tim Ramsberger said, "Firestone has been with us since the beginning. They're familiar with our event, and they see the value in the event." Firestone also title sponsors the IndyCar race at Texas Motor Speedway and "has for years held naming rights to the St. Petersburg circuit's first turn." Ramsberger said that the amount Firestone "paid to expand its branding rights, or even how many years the company will sponsor the St. Petersburg event, were kept confidential as part of the deal." Also "uncertain is why Honda dropped its backing after nine years as the lead sponsor." Honda will continue to sponsor IndyCar races next year in Alabama, Ohio and Toronto. Ramsberger said that while attendance for the St. Petersburg event "cooled during the recession, more than 125,000 people showed up for the three-day event earlier this year, up from 65,000" in '05 (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 11/21). In Tampa, Margaret Cashill noted Firestone at previous St. Petersburg races "hosted hundreds of guests." When word "got out that Honda declined to renew its title sponsorship, Firestone officials were in touch with race promoter Green Savoree St. Petersburg within a week." Bridgestone Americas Motorsports Exec Dir Lisa Boggs said the company, after evaluating the opportunity, determined a multiyear deal was "a good fit for our effort and for the brand as a whole" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 11/20).
ROCK CITY: Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix organizers yesterday said that the IndyCar event has "teamed with Kid Rock's Made In Detroit to be the official merchandise provider." In Detroit, George Sipple reports Grand Prix Made In Detroit T-shirts and hats will "go on sale later this year." The first 250 fans to order race tickets "will receive a free shirt" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 11/21).