Super Bowl events put spotlight on IndyCar

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With its season-opening Daytona 500, NASCAR usually dominates auto racing headlines in February.

But this year—because the Super Bowl is being played in open-wheel country—the IndyCar Series has taken center stage.

With 33 of its cars dressed up in NFL team colors and placed just south of Monument Circle and the famed Super Bowl Roman numerals, IndyCar is capturing the attention of scores of visitors downtown.

Local Super Bowl host organizers estimated that more than 250,000 people viewed the IndyCars from Jan. 27 to Jan. 29. Each car was painted in one of the 32 team color schemes complete with logos, and one had an NFL Super Bowl theme, making 11 rows of three along Meridian Street.

“It was a very popular place for people to go and have their picture taken,” said 2012 Super Bowl Host Committee spokeswoman Dianna Boyce. “It’s definitely been one of our major attractions.”

“We really wanted to support the effort to host a Super Bowl here in any way we could, but no doubt, all the exposure has been very good for us,” said Indianapolis Motor Speedway spokesman Doug Boles. “The exposure in some ways has been even better than we anticipated.”

The Super Bowl-related exposure for open-wheel racing didn’t stop last weekend.

Tuesday, the cars were moved to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where the famed Brickyard hosted a party for 5,000 credentialed media members from around the country and across the globe. A bevy of local and regional dignitaries also attended.

Super Bowl media party 2012"Speedway Girl" greeted guests at the media party Tuesday night. (IBJ Photo/Perry Reichanadter)

The Lombardi Trophy and Borg Warner Trophy—which goes to the Indianapolis 500 champion—were major attractions at the Tuesday night gathering. Speedway officials also allowed media members to take pictures of the New York Giants- and New England Patriots-themed cars sitting on the yard of bricks at the finish line.

Several open-wheel drivers including Ed Carpenter and Jay Howard attended and were interviewed.

The party was held on several floors of the Pagoda as well as in an expansive building near the garage area where IndyCars were suspended from the ceiling.
Journalists covering the Super Bowl were still raving about the party and the Speedway facilities on Wednesday morning.

“This week, we’ve gotten some really phenomenal exposure,” said Speedway CEO Jeff Belskus. “We’ve been in front of a global audience.”

Already this week, the NFL Network shot photos and footage of the Lombardi Trophy—which goes to the Super Bowl champion—at IMS. That footage will be used in several national telecasts.

ESPN, along with local Boston and New York television stations, also shot several segments from the Speedway.

NBC’s "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" show and the syndicated "Ellen" TV show will use the Speedway as backdrops for broadcasts. Mexican and German broadcast stations also did stories this week about the Brickyard, as did Yahoo Sports, USA Today, the Boston Globe and myriad other print publications.

Speedway officials, Boles said, have received requests for more than 70 media tours of the massive facility, which includes a 2.5-mile oval, 2.67-mile road course and 18-hole championship golf course.

The value of the exposure for the Speedway and IndyCar Series easily exceeds $1 million and could be as much as $5 million, said Larry DeGaris, director of academic sports marketing programs at the University of Indianapolis.

“The best part of this week for the Speedway and IndyCar Series is they’re getting the attention of a lot of stick-and-ball fans and reporters who might not otherwise have been exposed to the sport,” DeGaris said. “There’s no parallel to the attention the Super Bowl brings, so this is a great opportunity for [open-wheel racing].”

But he said follow-up is needed for IndyCar to take full advantage of the attention.

“They can’t just take the approach of 'come and see how awesome we are,'” DeGaris said. “To maximize the impact of this week, the Speedway and series will need a lot of active cultivation. PR is a sales-based industry, where making the sale is getting the coverage.”

The additional exposure during Super Bowl week comes as the series is launching a new 2012 chassis and engine package, is attempting to figure out life after Danica Patrick, who departed for NASCAR, and is trying to rebound after a devastating crash at last year’s finale in Las Vegas that killed two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Dan Wheldon.

“All this comes at a very good time for the Speedway, and these are the types of things—the first-hand experience with the cars and the photo opportunities—that create deep, lasting impressions,” DeGaris said. “I think the interest built this week could really spur momentum for the series.”

After Tuesday’s media party, the NFL-themed IndyCars were dispersed to sites around the region where they will continue to be an attraction for local and visiting sports fans until Feb. 5, Boles said.A list of those sites is here.



  • ugly open wheel year
    open wheel car use to be most beautiful race car shame on f1 irl i thought f1 car could not get more uglyer i was wrong
  • Build on Great Foundation
    The key phrase in the article is "follow-up is needed for IndyCar to take full advantage of the attention." The Super Bowl effort was great and a high bar of expectations, which the 500 needs to build on, has been set. I suggest taking a few pages out of Allison Melangton's play book - get a lot of locals involved as volunteers so that the visitor feels the love from the time they disembark from the plane to when they leave; use Georgia Street to offer a lot of free events (bands, etc.); offer a "500 experience" area with Indy car driving simulators, helmets, etc.; and make sure this is all available before and after the parade. Provide fleets of shuttles from downtown to the track and clean up/beautify the route(s) for getting them there, etc.

  • Betr'ni = Idiot
    1. Ha ha on trying to bait the F1 fans.
    2. Maybe you haven't noticed, but Tony's not in charge and hasn't been for a long time.
    3. Rude and insensitive comment you donkey. Don't make inferred jokes about Wheldon. If you've been to the 500, traffic actually runs pretty smoothly.

    Regardless, you're a donkey and you always will be.
  • College-NFL
    The NFL chooses its players from a college roster. In the event the players don't get a spot on the team at least they have their education and there is not a chance of ride buyers.
    The Patriot-haters mostly come from Indy so will be glad to go home to our parade.
    "Liking" Formula-one in Indy is also hated...interesting values.
    Giselle is Brazillian and more famous than Tom Brady AND she is loved in São Paulo ..where Indycar actually races...also the Olympics will be there soon so some respect would be appreciated for our QB and his family...not getting much here.
  • Yeah right!
    Yeah right! "ALL American Football values" where would you like me start. Drug dealers, Gangsters, Dog Fighters, Murderers, Domestic Abusers, thieves and on & on.
    • Sorry
      My apologies to our visitors - you missed my
      point entirely. I was just baiting some folks
      who will use any story about Indy Car to tell
      us all about the virtues of the F1 series.
    • Terre
      Love the cars although I'm surprised one was not placed in Terre Haute, which is a racing town. 3 in Carmel, 2 in Fishers, and one each in Lafayette, Noblesville, Greenwood, Greenfield, Columbus, B'twon, Richmond, Anderson, Muncie, Shelbyville and Plainfield. Where's the love for Terre Haute?
    • Harvard
      Cambridge means alot of things...MIT...Tufts..Boston College....and we are a Title Town...Not only our Patriots; Celtics, Bruins, Red Sox, (We have at least 80 colleges and Universities in the area.) If you haven't noticed,Tom Brady and his very famous Brazillian wife are a class act. It is not easy being around the "haters" as you say but that is what American Sports comes to AND we are free to express our "likes" and even our "dislikes". Very surprised that Ashley Judd is not here...we are distant cousins. {From "Who do you think you are?" My 10x Grandfather was the First Governor of Massachusetts...although I rarely brag about it...not our Bostonian tradition}
    • Celebrity
      Since I recieved stuff from Boston.com (born and raised in Cambridge MA. and am obviously a Patriots fan) also am a writer with free speech of sorts... just would like to say that after Dan Wheldon was killed on Public airwaves just about 13 weeks ago, many people (who are outside of the Kingdom) just would rather not be reminded. As far as making celebrities out of athletes it could be important to remember this about athletes and celebrity.
      Famous for being famous, or famous for nothing, in popular culture terminology, refers to someone who attains celebrity status for no particular identifiable reason, or who achieves fame through association with a true celebrity. The term is a pejorative, suggesting that the individual has no particular talents or abilities. Even when their fame arises from a particular talent or action on their part, the term will also apply if their fame is perceived as disproportionate to what they earned through their own talent or work; that is, if the person used to be "famous for something" earlier, but has not done anything noteworthy for a long time; such a person is often referred to as a "has-been".
      We are all used to Danica Patrick objectifying woman- thanks to no-daddy- most educated people from the Boston area don't like that so much. It is one thing to become the next "it-boy or girl" but when you are racing cars at neck-breaking speeds and your last champion is dead...and another one before that champion is an alcholic with multiple DUI's..
      Maybe it would be better to focus on the ALL American Football values...like going to college (usually the NFL picks their playes from a college roster- not from homeschooled highschoolers).
      Trying to upstage the celebrity status of real athletes is just plain silly...alot like Jimmy Fallon.
      The Boston crowd loves the entertainment factor, but entertainment at the expence of fatherhood is not so great IMO. Watching tyhe superbowl as a patriots fan when there are Patriot-haters is not fun either. BTW that is the American way.

      • Great promotionals
        IndyCar should be doing this and I applaud them. Bravo! The city is all about the Super Bowl right now, but it is always about the "500." I will be wearing an Indy 500 t-shirt while enjoying the Super Bowl from my 40-yard line seats Sunday with my sons and my new girlfriend, a fomer San Diego Chargers cheerleader who still loves the game. Burl, out.
      • Invitation
        C'mon Indy Car haters.This story has been up for more than 30 minutes, and no negative
        comments yet? Let me suggest some topics.....

        1) Do you think F1 would even consider demeaning itself by affiliating with the
        World cup?

        2) Obviously Tony is trying to impress the
        foreign press into convincing Bernie to bring
        F1 Back to Indy.

        3) IMS is so incompetent that it's almost a
        certainty someone will be killed on the high
        way while shuttling these promotional Indy
        Cars around central Indiana.

        Etc., etc., etc.

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        1. why oh why does this state continue to elect these people....do you wonder how much was graft out of the 3.8 billion?

        2. i too think this is a great idea. I think the vision and need is there as well. But also agree with Wendy that there may be better location in our city to fulfill this vision and help grow the sports of hockey and figure skating in Indy. Also to help further develop other parts of the city that seem often forgotten. Any of the other 6 townships out side of the three northernmost could benefit greatly from a facility and a vision like this. For a vision that sounds philanthropic, the location is appears more about the money. Would really like to see it elsewhere, but still wish the development the best of luck, as we can always use more ice in the city. As for the Ice growth when they return, if schedules can be coordinated with the Fuel, what could be better than to have high level hockey available to go see every weekend of the season? Good luck with the development and the return of the Ice.

        3. How many parking spaces do they have at Ironworks? Will residents have reserved spaces or will they have to troll for a space among the people that are there at Ruth Chris & Sangiovese?

        4. You do not get speeding ticket first time you speed and this is not first time Mr.Page has speed. One act should not define a man and this one act won't. He got off with a slap on the wrist. I agree with judge no person was injured by his actions. The state was robbed of money by paying too much rent for a building and that money could have been used for social services. The Page family maybe "generous" with their money but for most part all of it is dirty money that he obtained for sources that are not on the upright. Page is the kind of lawyer that gives lawyers a bad name. He paid off this judge like he has many other tine and walked away. Does he still have his license. I believe so. Hire him to get you confiscated drug money back. He will. It will cost you.

        5. I remain amazed at the level of expertise of the average Internet Television Executive. Obviously they have all the answers and know the business inside and out.