Indycar’s Pretty Good Week

I’m kidding. It was one of the best weeks the series has had since 2008 reunification. The announcement of NTT as series sponsor was the week’s biggest news, but three announcements followed, strengthening two events and one team. Friday’s news about the new ASPM team, in my opinion, is just as big as the NTT announcement. It could very well change the dynamic in the paddock.

The Road to the Title Begins and Ends with Firestone

Firestone has sponsored the opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg for the last few years. The tire supplier now will also sponsor the season finale at Weather Tech Raceway at Laguna Seca.

Firestone and Indycar have been together virtually since the beginning of racing in America.  It is a relationship fans almost take for granted.  It’s great to see that they continue to increase their support of the NTT Indycar Series.

REV Group Helps Road America Keep it Local

REV Group has replaced Kohler as title sponsor the race at Road America. REV is a Milwaukee based company that manufactures RVs and emergency vehicles. REV Group plans to have a hospitality area to salute first responders who attend the event.

The new race sponsor replaces Kohler, who held title rights for the first three years of the race. It is one of the most popular events on the  schedule.

The REV Group Grand Prix is June 21-23, and is one the eight races televised on the NBC network.

 

Arrow Steps Up Commitment to Schmidt Peterson Motorsports

Schmidt Peterson is now Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. In a Friday announcement in Denver, Arrow became a team partner and primary sponsor of both Schmidt Peterson cars.  James Hinchcliffe and Marcus Ericsson will drive in 2019. A third car will be ready for Robert Wickens when he is able to return.

The relationship between Schmidt and Arrow goes back to 2013 with the develoment of the SAM car, a semi- autonomous vehicle which has allowed Sam Schmidt to drive a street car again. That partnership led to Arrow sponsoring Hinchcliffe and ultimately to a stake in the team.

The new team structure brings a huge infusion of resources to Schmidt’s organization, which should see better results from the entire team. It might take a year for them to be really strong, so I’m looking at a great season in 202 for this outfit.

Arrow is one of the classiest sponsors in the paddock. They stood by the team when Hinchcliffe failed to qualify for the 500 this year, and they are supporting Wickens by holding a seat for him.

To me, this announcement is nearly as big as naming the series title sponsor. It is another large company investing heavily in Indycar.

Aero Tweaks Should Improve Racing at Indy, Pocono

In an effort to improve the superspeedway package the NTT Indycar Series is introducing aero options for both Indianapolis and Pocono. The new Universal Aero Kit introduced last year greatly improved the road and street course racing, but the speedway configuration didn’t produce the hoped for results.

Teams will have more aero tuning freedom on both the front and rear wing of the car.

The rear wing will have a 3/8 inch tall Gurney flap. One option is 13.2 inches wide and adds 50 pounds of downforce. The other choice measures 24.5 inches across and adds 100 pounds of downforce. there is a third flap which covers the entire length of the wing and adds 200 pounds. The full wing flap will only be allowed at Texas.

Extra downforce should allow cars to pass easier.

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The top 2 wings will be available at Indianapolis.

The front wing has a 3/8 inch tall flap which is 5.5 inches wide. Teams may use this flap asymmetrically. One problem in the 500 last year was the front end washing out as cars attempted to pass.

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Glen Wood

Sad news today about the death of Glen Wood, of the famous Wood Brothers racing team. Wood, 93, drove until 1964 and began his race team with is brother Leonard.  His team also was Jim Clark’s pit crew in 1965 when he won the Indianapolis 500.  Their pit stop routine became the norm for Indycar.

The Wood Brothers team is the oldest team in NASCAR. They have won 99 races including 5 Daytona 500s

 

An Evolution: Thoughts on the NTT Sponsorship

 

We’ve come a long way from Northern Lights and Pep Boys. Izod got off to a decent start as a title sponsor, but slowed down quickly and left early. Verizon was a great partner although their track activation slowed after three years. Indycar’s new title sponsor, NTT, is a great match for the series. I’m sure there was some financial consideration, but the technological advances NTT can provide for the paddock, the series, and the fans will take all of Indycar to another level.  NTT will continue the technological evolutionary path the series has chosen to take.

It was amazing how quickly this deal came together. This would not have happened in the old days of Indycar. Naming a sponsor before the season begins keeps Indycar’s credibility as a serious major racing series intact.

NTT spends $4 billion annually on research and development. I’m excited to see what the new mobile app  will look like given that level of investment.

The new sponsor and the new television deal with NBC has Indycar set for an incredible 2019.

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Felix Rosenqvist in the NTT Data car at Sebring Tuesday afternoon. NTT Data will continue to sponsor the Chip Ganassi Racing Team entry.  Photo: Vincent Anderson

Logo Blues

Indycar fans can always find a cloud in every silver lining. I saw a lot of complaints about the logo on social media yesterday.  I don’t have a problem with it. I think it is less clunky than the Verizon logo. It has a hint of the old USAC badge. The curves help as well.

Indycar just landed what looks to be a terrific sponsor that can help grow the series and some fans just want to bash the logo. No professional sports league has a logo that blows me away and I wasn’t expecting one here. Let’s enjoy this terrific get for the series.

Notes

Miles mentioned that this sponsorship continues pursuit of Indycar as a global brand. Is this a hint at more international races? Pretty sure Australia will happen in 2020. Is a race in Japan also in line for a return?

Robin Miller of Racer Magazine wrote an interesting piece on how the deal came together. Here is the link:

MILLER: How IndyCar found its new sponsor

Gateway Still Gets It

On Twitter yesterday,  Gateway president Chris Blair is doing what Indycar isn’t. He has offered fans who have a Chili Bowl Nationals Monday-Friday ticket stub free general admission to Coors Light Pole Night the night before Indycar’s Bommarito 500k.

Indycar has long needed a presence at the Chili Bowl. This is a great move by the best promoter in the series.