Indy 500 To Honor Mario Andretti In '19; Series Title Sponsor Deal Close?
This year's Indianapolis 500 "will pay special tribute" to Mario Andretti and the 50th anniversary of his only Indy 500 win in '69, according to Paul Reinhard of the Allentown MORNING CALL. Andretti's 50th anniversary celebration will include a "commemorative logo that will be used on the cover of the race program, on special merchandise and other places to celebrate the anniversary," and the "coveted bronze badges that have long served as credentials that allow garage and pit lane access will feature Andretti." Beginning May 1, the IMS Museum "will feature a special Andretti section devoted to his entire career." Because Andretti is "still so involved in IndyCar Series racing," he will "be around IMS almost all of May" (Allentown MORNING CALL, 1/10).
NAME GAME: IndyCar CEO Mark Miles said that he "hopes to make a formal announcement" about a new series title sponsor "before February’s scheduled test" at Austin's Circuit of the Americas. Miles said, "I want it on the cars and the fire suits if at all possible for the test. We also want the new sponsor to be involved in a new app and that takes time.” NTT Data reportedly is in talks as a potential replacement for Verizon (AP, 1/9).
GOING DOWN UNDER: IndyCar has said that it could race at Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast of Australia in February '20, and Miles said that initial talks with organizers had been "promising." MOTORSPORT.com's David Malsher noted IndyCar has been "cautious in speaking about its attempts to secure an international race recently, and has traditionally avoided firm deadlines." Miles' comments are therefore a "departure from its recent strategy." IndyCar last raced at Surfers Paradise in '08 for an "end of season non-championship event," which ran from '91-'07 as a" round of CART and Champ Car" (MOTORSPORT.com, 1/10).
SEE IT TO BELIEVE IT: In Indianapolis, VanTryon & Benbow note IndyCar's new partnership with NBC for the '19 season "won’t change that fans in Indianapolis will have to be at the Indy 500 to see it live." Miles said the long-standing policy of blacking out the race on local TV "hasn’t changed" and the series is "not really re-evaluating that" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 1/10).