Izod brokers deal to put fan at the head of IndyCar race grid

November 5, 2009
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There’s lots to consider and discuss when it comes to the Indy Racing League’s new title sponsor, Izod.
First of all, it will be a six-year deal with options for more. Izod officials promise to spend tens of millions of dollars to market the open-wheel racing series through mainstream pop culture avenues.

From here forward, the series will be known as the Izod IndyCar Series. Here’s hoping the company formerly known for its alligator logo does better than former title sponsors Pep Boys and Northern Lights, who also came in with big promises.

Izod thinks the open-wheel series will grow its clothing market share in South America, Europe and Asia. Currently, overseas sales comprises only 4 percent of Izod’s total revenue.

Izod officials think the open-wheel series is on the come and NASCAR is fading. The clothing company plans to put drivers like Ryan Hunter-Reay and Graham Rahal front and center in their mass marketing campaign. Izod unveiled an Izod IndyCar billboard today in New York’s Times Square.

Izod put on a heck of a show at its official coming out party today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. They had lots of attractive models wearing really cool sunglasses and played music loud enough to make the eardrums ache.

And upon questioning by the IBJ, Izod executives said they had no hesitancy to pull the trigger on the deal even after former series chief Tony George was deposed and replaced by Jeff Belskus mid-way through negotiations for the deal. (I’ll write more about that tomorrow.)

But for now, I’d like to focus on one rather interesting element of the agreement. Izod brokered a deal to have a two-seat IndyCar emblazoned with the Izod logo at the front of every starting grid during the start of each race. Well, almost.

The car will exit two laps before the green flag drops. Still, some lucky stiff will be sitting in an open-wheel car during parade and pace laps going over 100 mph, with the entire grid breathing down his/her neck. That includes at the Indianapolis 500.

The IndyCar series will provide the driver and Izod will decide who sits in the second seat, likely a company VIP or some type of Izod contest of sweepstakes winner.

“We think this element is going to be a great marketing tool and sales driver,” said Mike Kelly, executive vice president for Izod parent Phillips-Van Heusen Corp.

This type of initiative has never been tried before in a major racing series. I’m not sure if it will work the way Mr. Kelly hopes, but you have to give Izod and the IndyCar series an 'A' for creativity. Now, let’s hope the series' liability insurance doesn’t go through the roof.

  • Izod Indy Car Series

    Great article - good takes. Let me point out one thing. The alligator was the logo for Lacoste, not IZOD.

    Unfortunately, this will be the fodder for laughs by the league haters. Nonetheless, for those of us that would like to see progress, improvements, and better racing, this kind of move has to be a help to the series.

    Great news also for the potential to Ryan Hunter-Reay, a good young American driver that needs to be in the series full-time in competetive equipment.

    I'm holding out hope that better heads will prevail over the series to make the changes necessary than what we've had in recent years.
  • earlzod!!!
    "this will be the fodder for laughs by the league haters"

    Ya think?!? :lol: Bank on it. The earlzod is not gonna un-suck itself just by changing the logo.

    "Izod thinks the open-wheel series will grow its clothing market share in South America, Europe and Asia."

    This is comedy gold. On what delusional fiction did they base this assessment?

    Every PVH exec involved in this decision should be fired immediately, and sued for any previous compensation they have received from the company.

    Really looking forward to seeing Dancing With The Stars finalist Davey Hamilton wreck that 2-seat garbagewagon in front of the 'field'.

    And there will be grate rejoicing.

    code = ke52r
    • Pepboys/northernlights/izod
      An agreement in principle... no terms equals B2B equals little or no dollars actually changing hands. A second tier "sponsor" for a second tier racing series. It is amusing they found a sponsor after 8 years soon after Lord Silver Spoon was shown the door by his sisters. A little more salt in that wound. I hope it works out better than the clothing line they had out last year.
    • Congratulations
      I'd like to offer congratulations to the IRL on securing it's first title sponsor in almost 9 years. I was struck by the word that this IZOD deal is apparently less than $10M per year, for six years. In 2000, the LEEGUE struck the Northern Lights deal for $10M per year for five years. WHAT HAPPENED? Wasn't the great success that every IRL fan touts worth something over the past 10 years? Just how badly has the IRL depreciated to accept this "standing still" deal that can surpass the year 2000 deal, ten years later???
    • Haters
      Nice job, Stan, in a lively, heated attempt to "unsuck" yourself!

      There are a tremendous number of people attempting to make lemonade out of this lemon we've been left with. Many of us would like to see them succeed for the future of the sport and the great city of Indianapolis.

      Pardon me while I skip your passion for being a "nattering nabob of negativity"!

      On a last note, that comment about Davey Hamilton was totally uncalled for. Ok you don't like what's going on. We get it. But to wish someone to be placed in danger, what is wrong with you? The only thing you show is how good you are at running your mouth! You've just shown your true colors, that of a hate filled, fear mongering, dolt. Enjoy your life on the dark side.

      Perhaps in the future you could learn some compassion and forgiveness?
    • not piling on
      I don't mean to pile on the IndyCar Series, but there is a history of mishaps with the two-seater, not the least of which when the rear wing fell off while a fan was in the second seat at Indianapolis and the car spun out and hit the first turn wall. Was the car going 200 mph? No. Still, that's a pretty serious situation. And I believe Davey Hamilton was the driver of the two-seater at the time of the crash. The series certainly doesn't need the kind of publicity a crash like that in front of the field would bring.
      • Get your facts straight, please
        When the 2 seater car crashed in turn 1 at the Speedway no one was hurt and Roberto Guerrero was driving, not Davey Hamilton. You speak of a history of mishaps??? What mishaps? Their safety record is first rate. I wonder what motive someone would in posting such a negative and mis-informed posting as this.
      • Talk about misinformed
        Hey Dave how's the comedy club business? At least you have the radio gig to fall back on. Oh wait, never mind. The irl* has a first rate safety record? You might want to remind Vitor Meira, Kenny Brack, Sam Schmidt, an countless others. The irl has the most injuries of any series in the history of racing, especially back and neck injuries due to the poor design of the irl specwagon with it's high downforce and heavy Xtrac trannny. Get you head out of the sand.
        • The Usual
          Clothes Americans don't wear for a racing series Americans don't watch. It's a perfect match. LOL
        • IZOD?
          I remember Izod from the, what, 70's or 80's. I didn't know Izod still existed. Will all of the cars have to have the little alligator on the side?
        • Izod Indy Car Series
          Hey George,

          The alligator was for Lacoste, not IZOD. Such a shame that you continue to hang out with the ignorance is bliss club. Also a shame that you trivialize a successful company that you could only wish to be associated with.

        • Brett,

          Glad to see you are still no class. If that is Dave "The King" Wilson, then you owe him an apology for baring your rear. That man has done more for OW racing than you could ever dream of. You are truly a sad person, two faced person. Claim to be fine and upstanding, then attack a poster or claimed to be poster.
        • I think the two seater is a great PR move. Who would not want to be in an OW car as it flies down the main straight on a parade lap. Literally as close to being in a race without having to qualify. I can see sponsors and fans really wanting to do this. I also see NASCAR looking into doing this as well.

          Speaking of which, did TMS have as many empty seats as it looked last weekend? I would be curious if they still have the declining attendance and ratings that they had earlier in the year.

        • tired of the haters
          Hey Brett, Dave was talking about the 2 seater, not racing in general. Nice personal attack on someone who has raised a lot of money for Riley. How much have you contributed? Hope you feel good about yourself. Racing is dangerous sport, Earnhardt,Moore,Brayton have all paid the price but yet haters like you want to take every chance you get to spew your trash talk about Indycar. I love to see you climb into these so called "crapwagons" and drive it in to turn 1 at IMS over 200 mph. Or better yet why dont all you haters on this board pony up some money and start your own racing series.Since you know all the answers and have all the solutions put your money where your mouth is.
        • Hilarious
          How did the attendance and ratings of the Cup race compare to the EARL's race at Texas? I know anytime no one is maimed is considered a success but what were the numbers?
        • The Usual
          at least the izod clan isn't delusional enough to think the IRL can help it with its American market share. all 0.15 of it
        • TMS Report for indyman
          While many Sprint Cup races have struggled to find sponsors and seen huge attendance drops, that hasn't been the case at TMS. Attendance was down for Sunday's race, but the dip from 171,000 last November to 167,000 was slight.

          And, as Gossage is always willing to point out, it's still the best-attended race in the Sprint Cup Chase.
        • Rent a Gun and buy a bullet.
          Why don't you haters rent a gun and buy a bullet!!! It's apparent you have no knowledge about the sport and we don't need little girls like you smacking your gums.Good luck with your shopping,ladies.

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