Emmis deal opens way for interactive Indianapolis 500

Indianapolis-based Emmis Communications Corp. and Indianapolis Motor Speedway have signed a unique, exclusive deal that will allow Indianapolis 500 fans to answer trivia questions and make race and Carburetion Day predictions via their cell phones. Carb Day is Friday and the race is Sunday.

Financial terms were not released, but sports marketers said it’s an emerging type of deal that combines traditional media-in this case broadcasts on WIBC-AM 1070 and WLHK-FM 97.1-and new wireless technologies through cell phones.

“Indy 500 PlayAction brings an exciting, new kind of competition to the 91st Indianapolis 500,” said Joie Chitwood, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president and chief operating officer. “It’s an innovative way to engage the community of race fans through mobile technology. PlayAction is a perfect match for the Indy 500 since the race has been all about competition and technology since 1911.”

While similar contests have been used with National Hockey League and National Basketball Association games and the Skins Game in golf, this is the first time the technology will be used at Indianapolis Motor Speedway or during an IndyCar Series event.

Emmis officials expect thousands of fans to participate.

“Any Indy 500 fan with a U.S. mobile device can compete against fellow enthusiasts, whether they are listening to the event on WIBC 1070 AM, 97.1 HANK FM or any other affiliate of the IMS Radio Network, or watching the events from the Speedway,” Emmis Vice President and General Manager Tom Severino said.

The game will be available to mobile subscribers in the United States and Canada. U.S. carriers include T-Mobile, Nextel, Cingular, Sprint, Verizon, Boost Mobile and Alltel.

Race fans can register online at www.playaction.tv/indy500 or use their mobile devices, text “Indy” to 24365. There will be 10 questions on each of the days and each day will have a winner.

Prizes include ticket packages to next year’s Indianapolis 500, bronze and silver badge credentials for track access next May, and a checkered flag autographed by this year’s race winner.

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