Andretti "bullish" on IRL's future

May 1, 2009
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danair333dan222While Indy Racing League driver Danica Patrick was driving her new race car up and down a runway at the Indianapolis International Airport this morning, Andretti Green Racing co-owner Michael Andretti was watching with a stern look on his face.

The cameras of about a dozen photographers and the videographers of four local TV stations were focused on Patrick, the new paint scheme of her car, and her new sponsor, Motorola partner Boost Mobile (a division of Sprint Nextel). It was a lot of show-and-tell, but for Andretti it was all business.

AGR is one of the few IRL teams hanging tough with corporate sponsors—probably enough to pay all the bills and make a few investments toward the future. In addition to Boost, AGR recently signed a deal with Venom Energy Drink—which will be the primary sponsor for Michael’s son, Marco. Of course, Motorola and 7-11 are the big dogs of AGR’s sponsors.

The Venom and Boost deals are one-year pacts, and Andretti talks like a man who knows his work to secure the team’s long-term future is not—and may never be—done.

“We’re always thinking business and trying to make sure we get our sponsors as much exposure as possible,” Andretti said. “In today’s economic climate you don’t even get your foot in the door unless you immediately show a return on investment.”

The trick is, Andretti said, every sponsor wants something different. “Some want business-to-business, others want straight exposure others are seeking an entertainment factor. But that’s the uniqueness of this sport. It can deliver so many different things to corporate partners.”

Andretti’s last answer, prompted another question. Which is, what does he think about the league’s financial health and viability.

“I feel very bullish about it,” Andretti said. “The model they now have is like the old CART model, with a mix of road and oval racing, which was not a bad model.”

Andretti also gave approval to IRL Chairman Tony George’s move to put the league’s races on Versus cable channel.

“The Versus thing is in the early stages, but the league had to have a [TV] partner where the Indy Racing League is one of three or four major sports properties that [the network] has a vested interest in seeing succeed. Only then will you get the promotion the series’ needs. That just wasn’t going to happen with the previous arrangement.”

The IRL is in a good position to weather the current economic downturn, Andretti said. “We were already mean and lean,” he said. “We’re not fat and happy like NASCAR has become.”

Andretti also feels good about the league’s expansion efforts, especially in China. He is less thrilled about Brazil.

“We have to evaluate this market by market,” Andretti said. “I’m sure our sponsors would want to be in China. Just about every major, international company either has operations or partners in China.”

As for ever driving again, even at Indianapolis, Andretti didn’t hesitate.

“Nope, I’m done,” he said. “The one time was a unique opportunity to race with my son. But I’ll never race a car again.”
  • Couldn't tee this one up better for the IRL haters...
  • The car looks really good.
  • I like the light blue better.

    The black with orange reminds me of Foyt's old cars. Marco's looked like that last week, too.
  • I heard that DaHooey is wanting to be on the teams pit stop crew!
  • Did anyone really think Michael was going to say anything other than things are great? Really? I have no idea what Boost is, hope it works out better than Vonage. And a new energy this Frank's replacement? LOL
  • Wow, that's some stellar Hulmainst bootlicking from the Whiney One. :lol: He's been fully earlized, got an excuse for everything.

    He must have an amazing sales person/staff though. Not even Penske can find new sponsors, and he at least appears to have some companies footing the bill. If they ever evaluate their roi on this deal, look out.

    “The model they now have is like the old CART model ... which was not a bad model.”

  • CArt model? hahahahah WAhts that? HOw to go out of buisness? hahahahah YEah liek thats gone to happen to the IRl. AT leased hes' bullisht. BUT hes right THEre aint no other series that gots the potentil of the IRl. YEah baby. Its up from here.
  • Boost Mobile is Sprint/Nextel's Pay-As-You-Go service. It's pretty big and legit, just not exactly the demographic I would think would be an IRL fan....

    Anthony - with your other article today about the league's demise in 2013 (tee up haters again), there was no mention about the multiple engine manufacturers coming to the series. Any news on that? I'd surely think that would have a very profound impact on the series especially in terms of marketing that might help the series....
  • lmfao. Yeah, whatever you say Mikey. :lol:
  • _TG is not even sure the irl will be around.

    I'm sure this gives any potential sponsors and the phantom engine suppliers a warm and fuzzy feeling. Does anyone really think TG is qualified to do anything other than spend his inheritance?

    Wow. Grate. :lol:

    Hey Anthony, you actually talk to some of these idiots that pretend all is well in earl-land, do they honestly thing that their complete denial of the fact that Anton the Dense and his 'league' are widely despised does anything to help their cause?

    70% is pretty optimistic a view, I can't see that abortion being profitable unless they find a really stupid company with deep pockets to do a title sponsorship. It's possible, but not really likely.

    The comparisons to CART are really off the mark I think, they were run in totally separate ways. Compare 1996-2000 alone, and CART was profitable, something that the earl never has been, by their own admission. Regardless, the 'league' has always sucked and managed to engender hatred, and has never shown any sign of un-sucking itself. As long as the un-effed TG continues his idiotic control binge, that has a very limited chance of ever changing.

    Still, I don't see the 'league' shutting down any time soon, if ever. It should though. Despite the terminology in the article, they are not running Indianapolis 500's, they are running a failed, cheap, lame, fraudulent imitation of it. That shows no signs of changing either. Good going, Anton. Effin brilliant.
  • If it promotes the IRL and open wheel in general, so be it. As they say at Harvard, there is no promotion like self promotion.' What we really need are greenbacked sponsors who would love to engage with open wheel racing - no matter what the teams' car colors.
  • Motorola = gone. Yeah, that's growth, your biggest star loses her biggest sponsor, and that makes you bullish? more like bullSH!t. :lol:
  • Oh yes, the TG/IRL haters grasp at the straws thrown out by anyone, no matter how tenous their knowledge of racing is if they rip on the league. But you throw out industry experts saying that things may be turning around and they attack them like Oprah at an all you can eat buffett.

    I think one of the biggest deciding factors is going to be how deep and long the recession is. All businesses are getting hit hard by it. That doubly affects businesses that rely on other companies for sponsorship. You can see it in NASCAR and you can see it in other sports.
  • DaHooey you are megalol.

    From the AGR Press Release:

    At Motorola, partners like Boost Mobile and sponsorships such as Danica Patrick/Andretti Green Racing are key to our brand success, said Jean-Pierre Le Cannellier, senior director of North America marketing, Motorola Mobile Devices. We are thrilled to kick off this joint sponsorship as Danica prepares to race in the Indianapolis 500 and as we introduce our latest Push-To-Talk1device.
  • so motorola cut their sponsoship in half? ok. i was half right.
  • A new $50 unlimited-calling plan sold under the Boost brand has been a badly needed success story for Sprint Nextel Corp., luring hundreds of thousands of new customers, by industry estimates. But dealers and customers report widespread problems with texting on the Boost network. Messages are frequently delayed by hours, in many cases reaching their recipients early in the morning.

    The new Boost Mobile plan uses Sprint's Nextel network, which uses a different underlying technology than the main Sprint network. Nextel users have complained of occasionally delayed text messaging for years, but the network's main selling point has been the walkie-talkie-like push to talk capability, used by work crews and emergency responders. Now the new Boost plan has opened the network to a new category of customers, for whom text messaging is more important. John Votava, a spokesman for Boost, said the texting problems are due to the influx of new customers, and denied that there are long-standing problems with the Nextel network. The popularity of Boost Mobile caught us off guard. It overwhelmed our system, he said. The company has been working day and night to fix the problems, and aims to have the system much improved by next week, Votava said. Analysts expect Sprint to report Monday that Boost attracted somewhere around half a million subscribers in the first quarter, which would be a rare piece of good news for the company. The additions from Boost are not expected to outnumber defections from Sprint as a whole, however. The Boost plan was partly a response to the network expansions of MetroPCS Communications Inc. and Leap Wireless International Inc. They have long offered unlimited calling for about $50 per month in limited areas, but in recent months they've moved into big cities in the Northeast, greatly increasing their possible customers. Virgin Mobile later responded with its own $50 unlimited prepaid plan, and T-Mobile USA started offering long-term customers a similar plan to keep them.

    Boost is a low tech, pre pay plan avaialable in limited areas. Which makes it perfect for the irl fan.
  • I'm not sure I'd bet they'll be in the black within four years, said Dennis McAlpine, a motorsports financial analyst based in New York.

    He must be a TG/irl hater or a fan of CART/CCWS/OWRS.
  • I don't think anyone has said the IRL being profitable is a sure thing, but to listen to you TG/IRL haters, there is no one, giving it a chance.
  • DaHooey Says:
    May 3rd, 2009 at 10:28 am
    so motorola cut their sponsoship in half? ok. i was half right.

    Be careful DaHooey...some of us gomers might actually think you are an optimist with language like that. I always knew you were a glass half full kind of guy......
  • Mike Andretti: What Gentiloser was to ChampCar, Mikey is to EARL.

    Once again - imitation is the most sincere flattery. :lol:

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