Andretti, Patrick, Fisher revved up

May 8, 2009
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danicagodaddyWith the Indianapolis 500 fast approaching, speed is the name of the game. It appears Indy Racing League drivers—some of them anyway—are gaining speed with corporate America.

If you haven’t seen Marco Andretti’s Gillette Fusion TV ad, you can check it out by clicking here. True, little Andretti doesn’t appear to have much facial hair to shave, but the spot is airing on the networks during prime time this month, and that is certainly revving the IRL marketing department’s engine.

Sarah Fisher’s fledgling race team seems to be getting stronger by the day. Remember last year at this time, Fisher was jilted by her primary sponsor, ResQ Pure Power Energy Drink, and was panhandling for donations to keep her team afloat for Indy. This year, she has a solid primary sponsor, Dollar General, that will put her on the track for at least six races, and she has one of the few teams that seems to be regularly adding sponsors, even if they’re secondary sponsors.

In her most recent deal, Fisher inked a deal with Indiana Members Credit Union. Notably, the sponsorship is another one that will put Fisher front and center of a media campaign. Fisher filmed a commercial for IMCU last week. It will begin airing this month. Fisher also will appear in print ads for IMCU throughout May. Even if Fisher never reaches the winner’s circle, she’s made herself one of the most recognized open-wheel racers in the U.S., and has likely secured herself a healthy annual income for many years to come. That’s a lot more than most open-wheelers can say, even some that have enjoyed more on-track success. Her approach with sponsors should also secure her future as a team owner if she so desires to continue that endeavor.

One of the few drivers Fisher trails in the recognition department is Danica Patrick. Take it easy everyone. I’ve lifted my self-imposed moratorium on Danica news for at least the month of May, and probably until the end of the open-wheel season. Sorry to the burnt-out-on Danica crowd. She still has legions of fans. My own blog stats tell me so. The term Danica Patrick is seven times more searched than any other term on The Score. Yes, that includes Indianapolis Colts, Peyton Manning, Sarah Fisher, Indianapolis 500, you name it.

Anyway, GoDaddy is always quick to capitalize on Danicamania. So, it’s not surprising they’ve released another censored ad. Actually, GoDaddy has produced two new Danica ads; one for TV and one for Web viewing only. Whether or not you’re tired of the Danica-GoDaddy shtick, you have to admit they generate a lot of publicity. To state the obvious, that’s good for the IRL. To see the latest GoDaddy ad, click here, and tell me what you think. To get to the Danica portion of this video, fast foward to the 3:45 mark.
  • I'd argue against the Fisher being one of the most recognized open wheel racers. She may be well recognized in central Indiana for her AAA commercials and now these new IMCU commercials, but that's Indiana with Indiana sponsors.
  • Open wheel racing is probably better known in Indiana than most states because of the 500.

    That being said... I'm glad to see some good luck come Sarah's way. She's been running well. And while she may not have the most competitive car out there just yet, I'm glad to see her on the track.

    And while I know there are others, she's a good story for the fans and for the legions of young girls interested in racing.

    In all, I too am pleased with the increasing coverage of IndyCar racers and the sport in general.
  • Outside of Indiana and the thousand or so IRL fans spread around the country, nobody knows who Sarah Fisher is. And nobody cares.
  • Count Darkula: As always, you overstate by leaps and bounds and usually bordering on the insane. There are many that care. How about the investors who answered the call last year? How about the Sponsors that are located outside of Indiana? How about the thousands of fans that voter her the most popular driver for 3 years running? How about asking Robin Miller or Curt Cavin? They know. Such gooberishness, goodness.
  • Where is Bobby Rahal this year? How can Sarah put together a sponsorship program for six races, while Rahal/Letterman might not even be able to put something together to run one race?

    It seems that Sarah is doing a pretty good job.
  • Rahal has a car with Oriol Servia as the driver.
  • Rahal has a check from Tony and Honda with instructions to run Oriol Servia.


    The IRL: They have to pay people to run there.
  • Hey Dahooey,

    Prove it. Wow, I like this new way of blogging. No need to know what I am writing about, just keep saying the same thing over and over and ignoring facts as they are presented. You guys have had it easy.
  • My point was that Sarah has done a far better job at putting a program together than Rahal has. Bobby can only put together a one week deal. It wasn't even known last Tuesday morning if RL was going to show up. What Sarah has done is way more impressive.

    Maybe I have expected too much from Rahal and Letterman.
  • What Sarah has done is way more impressive.

    Has Sarah been in a race this year? Did I miss something? To recap, Sarah is in her first race of the year with a few associate) sponsors (hope that works out better thean ResQ) and that is impressive but RLR in their first race of the year is some type of dissapointment?
  • All this 'marketing' they are doing, I don't see it helping the 'league' gain any popularity at all, as the product is onion gum.

    Anyone got the pole day ratings yet? :lol:

    Found this on another forum, no reason to believe it's inaccurate:

    Here are the 2008 ratings:

    05.10.08 Pole Day 12-2PM ESPN2 Rating: 0.47
    05.10.08 Pole Day 3-6PM ABC Rating: 0.9 1,329,000 viewers
    05.10.08 Pole Day (Wrap Up) 6-7PM ESPN2 Rating: 0.12
    05.11.08 Indy Second Day Time Trials ESPN2 Rating: 0.30
    05.18.08 Bump Day ABC Rating: 1.1 1,278,000 households 1,460,000 viewers
    05.25.08 Indy 500 Pre-Race ABC Rating: 2.2 2,505,000 households 3,159,000 viewers
    05.10.08 Indy 500 Race ABC Rating: 4.6 5,167,00 households 7,245,000 viewers
  • Sarah is in her second race this year (Kansas was the first). She has been able to put together sponsorship for six races. Sarah Fisher Racing is in its second year of existence.

    RLR is entered in their first Indy Car race of the season, and is running a limited engine lease. It is expected that Servia will be the driver, and there have been no mentions of sponsorship. Rahal Letterman Racing is in its 18th year of existence, and is owned by former 500 and Championship winner Bobby Rahal, and television icon David Letterman.

    Being that this is a business publication, and this blog is about sports business news, I would say that what her small team has put together is more impressive than what RLR has put together.
  • Wow. I guess I missed her 13th place, one lap down finish at Kansas. I don't know how. But since this is a business publication, the real issue is the lack of sponsorship in the league. RLR was a victim of the US Ethanol fiasco and was left high and dry when Ethanol pulled out and Patron went with Sharp to the ALMS. Not to mention the 2004 irl 500 champion Buddy Rice who can't even get a ride. That shows how little winning the 500 means since TG fixed it.
  • RLR was a victim of the US Ethanol fiasco and was left high and dry when Ethanol pulled out and Patron went with Sharp to the ALMS. Not to mention the 2004 irl 500 champion Buddy Rice who can’t even get a ride.

    You're right. RLR has had a string of sponsors leave for various reasons. And I think that it's impressive that SFR's small team has been able to put together sponsorship for six races.

    I was hoping that RLR would be able to put together a better package for Indianapolis. They have dissapointed.
  • From

    Rahal Letterman Racing has finalized its deal to field a car for Oriol Servia at the Indianapolis 500.

    As we reported last week, the team – which sat out the opening races of the 2009 season after losing its Ethanol sponsorship – had entered a car for this year’s race but the car, painted in a color scheme that commemorates Dan Gurney’s Eagles of the 1960s, remained in the garage while the team sought to finalize sponsorship arrangements. Today, RLR announced that the car would be sponsored by DAFCA, a micro-electronics counterfeiting protection systems company.
  • I heard that a while ago. Good for them, I still don't understand how they can't put together some sort of sponsorship package for the season. David Letterman. Bobby Rahal. It seems that they could leverage that into something.
  • It seems to me Bobby is alot more interested in Graham's career than running a team at this time, IMO.
  • I agree with you 100% on that.

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