At a time when new sports sponsorships in general and motorsports sponsorships in particular aren’t easy to score, the Indianapolis Speedrome is picking up some serious momentum.
Within the last month, the 72-year-old race track on Indianapolis’ east side has announced three significant sponsorships for the facility, which operates far from the spotlight that shines on bigger tracks such as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Ivy Tech Community College this month signed a two-year, five-figure deal to be the title sponsor of the facility noted for hosting the annual Figure 8 World Championship. The Speedrome has a one-fifth mile oval and a figure-8 track known for some spectacular collisions.
The Speedrome also signed new sponsorship agreements this month with Indiana Grand Casino and O'Reilly Auto Parts, and renewed deals with the United Auto Workers and OmniSource, a Fort Wayne-based metal recycling company with operations in Indianapolis. Speedrome owner Bill Cohen declined to estimate the value of the sponsorships.
Cohen credited efforts by the track’s marketing director, Jonathan Byrd II, and a strong niche market the track holds in the racing hotbed of Indianapolis.
Byrd's family operates Jonathan Byrd's cafeteria in Greenwood, and his now deceased father formerly sponsored and co-owned teams in the Indy Racing League.
“We offer affordable family entertainment,” Cohen said. “For people who like close, wheel-to-wheel action, this is the place to be. And there isn’t a bad seat in the house.”
The Speedrome, like many racing businesses, has been hurt by the post-2007 recession, Cohen said. He added that the facility “is bouncing back pretty good right now.”
Jeff Fanter, Ivy Tech's vice president of communications, called the new agreement with the track at 802 S. Kitley Ave. “a great deal” for the school.
“We’re getting a lot of signage at the track and are featured prominently in their marketing materials,” Fanter said. “With the amount of eyeballs that will see our logo through this deal, we think the exposure for Ivy Tech will be significant.”
The Speedrome, which has weekend races from April through October, offers the ideal audience for Ivy Tech, Fanter said.
“We believe a lot of people who go to the races at the Speedrome have an interest in a possible career in the auto racing industry, and we are one of the most viable options to get the training to be successful in that career,” Fanter said.
The Speedrome has become known as a place to see rising stars race midget, stock cars and karts, said long-time motorsports journalist Robin Miller.
“This place is a landmark, and it’s a place where guys like Tony Stewart and John Andretti cut their teeth,” Miller said. “It’s a place where on a Saturday night you can always find a few thousand hard-core race fans.
“It’s become a place known for wild action on and off the track.”
Miller calls the Cohen family that owns and operates the track “sharp.”
“They’re creative and have been smart about how to make a go of it there,” Miller said. “So I'm not surprised to see them making deals to keep this place rolling.”
The Speedrome opens the 2013 season April 6. Tickets are $12 for adults, $6 for children ages 6 to 11 and free for children 5 and under.
The Figure 8 World Championship will be held Sept. 5-7. Speedrome officials plan to announce one or more sponsorship deals for that event in the coming weeks.
“Racers come from across the U.S. to compete in that event,” Cohen said. “It should be very competitive and will draw quite a crowd. There will be people here from all walks of life.”