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The Score - Anthony Schoettle

Welcome to The Score, your place for hard-hitting sports business news, fast-breaking updates and fuel-injected debate.  Buckle up.  I'm your host, Anthony Schoettle, IBJ sports reporter.

Sports Business

Chevy, Lotus engines could infuse $30 million annually into marketing IndyCar

November 18, 2010
KEYWORDS Sports Business

Can IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard sell ice to an Eskimo? Perhaps.

But, according to Terry Angstadt, president of the open-wheel series’ commercial division, the effort to attract Chevrolet and Lotus as engine suppliers to the IndyCar Series was a “true team effort.”

The Chevrolet deal was announced Oct. 12 and the Lotus deal is being announced today.

“I really get upset when all the bad things are credited to [former IndyCar CEO] Tony George, and all the good things are credited to Randy Bernard,” Angstadt said. “That’s very naïve.”

The growth in the series this off-season dates to reunification in 2008, and has a lot to do with the series’ decision to launch a new engine and chassis package in 2012, Angstadt said.

Angstadt says Bernard does get a major nod for forming the ICONIC Advisory Committee, and jumping into negotiations with Chevy, Lotus and other potential series suppliers.

“But the consummation of these deals takes a lot of effort on the part of a lot of people,” he added. “Guys like Tony Purnell, for instance, have been a huge help.”

Purnell is a businessman and former principal of the Jaguar and Red Bull Formula One teams, who became a member of the ICONIC committee this year.

Credit aside, Angstadt expects big things from the series’ two new engine makers.

“In time, we expect the new engine manufacturers to be just as active as Honda in marketing and activating for the series,” Angstadt said.

Some sports marketers wondered if the marketing and sponsorship pie generated by engine makers would grow, or stay the same and be divided among them.

“Absolutely, the plan is for marketing from that category to grow,” Angstadt said. “If there are two new engine manufacturers in 2012, we could see the marketing spend in that category triple.”

That kind of marketing muscle, sports marketers said, is what the series needs to grow television ratings and attendance. IndyCar sources said Honda spends $10 million to $15 million in marketing annually. If what Angstadt said is true, the two new engine manufacturers would put another $20 million to $30 million annually combined into billboards, TV, radio, print and Web ads as well as point-of-purchase promotions and marketing at each track where the series races.

The good news doesn’t end there for the IndyCar Series.

Angstadt said that while a deal for a new “mega activating” sponsor—potentially as big as series title sponsor, Izod—is coming together a little slower than expected, he anticipates an announcement before year’s end.

“We’re awfully close to that category exclusive announcement,” Angstadt said. “That announcement could come before Thanksgiving.”

And that’s not all. Angstadt today is headed to Brazil, where he will meet with Apex Brasil officials, and hopes to sign two new sponsors.

“We hope to sign two letters of intent,” Angstadt said. “That would make this trip a real success.”

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