Izod dropping IndyCar Series sponsorship

The apparel brand Izod is dropping its partnership with the IndyCar Series after the conclusion of the 2013 season, leaving the open-wheel racing series without a title sponsor.

IndyCar announced the decision in a statement Friday afternoon. The move does not come as a surprise to series officials, who have been pitching potential replacement sponsors since last summer.

"We are proud of our partnership with Izod over the past six years," Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles said in a statement. "But circumstances change, and now we're seeking new partnerships with brands looking to align with the fastest, most versatile form of racing."

The six-year, $60-million title sponsorship deal with Izod was supposed to stretch through the 2014 season. But, as IBJ reported in July, many expected Izod to attempt to end the agreement early.

Terms of the separation were not disclosed.

"As we and our retail partners shift the Izod brand's product focus, we need to shift our marketing spend to complement it," said Mike Kelly, an executive vice president for Izod parent Phillips-Van Heusen Corp., in a statement. "We would like to thank the IndyCar community … for their partnership."

A management change at Izod's parent company prompted the change: In 2012, Michael Shaffer replaced IndyCar supporter Allen Sirkin as chief operating officer at PVH, and ordered a pullback in promotions related to the title sponsorship.

Last year, PVH pulled the plug on most of its IndyCar Series-related TV ads and other promotions, including its Indy 500 kick-off party Izod hosted with GQ magazine in 2010 and Spin magazine in 2011.

The quest to replace Izod as title sponsor was dealt a blow in June when the series' point man in negotiating such deals, Greg Gruning, resigned.

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