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The Score - Anthony Schoettle

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Sports Business

Sherwin-Williams ready to make mark on Speedway, IndyCar Series

August 5, 2015
KEYWORDS Sports Business

Sherwin-Williams plans to make its mark on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar Series—literally.

The Cleveland-based paint maker recently signed a two-year, multimillion dollar deal to become the official paint supplier of the Speedway and IndyCar.

Speedway and Sherwin-Williams officials declined to release precise financial details.

As part of the deal, Sherwin-Williams will supply paint for the Speedway’s $30 million renovation to be done in front of next year’s 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.

That part of the contract will add “north of several hundred thousand dollars” to the value of the deal for the IMS, said Bobby Moody, Sherwin-Williams’ director of motorsports.

“It’s a great claim to be part of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway renovation and that was attractive to” Sherwin-Williams, said Jay Frye, chief revenue officer for Hulman Motorsports, the division of Hulman & Co. that oversees the IMS and IndyCar. “They really wanted to supply the paint for the walls of this iconic and historic venue.”

This is a marketing tactic Sherwin-Williams has used before. For instance, it supplied the paint to cover the Golden Gate Bridge in the Bay Area of California.

As official paint supplier of the IndyCar Series, Sherwin-Williams also will supply paint to all the teams except Team Penske, which has a deal with PPG Industries. That part of the deal will save teams a high five-figure amount annually, Frye said.

“Sherwin-Williams paint will go on their race cars, transporters, facilities and more,” Frye said. “And they use paint week after week. So it’s a big savings for the teams.”

Sherwin-Williams’ deal with IndyCar mirrors the league-wide deal it has with NASCAR, Moody said.

Frye, who worked in NASCAR for nearly two decades before joining Hulman Motorsports in November 2013, helped grease the skids for the Sherwin-Williams deal.

The agreement has several business-to-business components including entertainment and hospitality options at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and other tracks where the series races but also has a direct-to-consumer marketing component including signage at the IMS.

“We’re working that (business-to-consumer) part of it out,” Frye said. “But there certainly could be some point-of-sale IndyCar displays in Sherwin-Williams stores. A lot of that will be around the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500, so it will be good for the Speedway and (IndyCar) Series.

“There’s a lot more to this. We’re currently working on what’s next,” Frye added. “There’s a great enthusiasm on their part to do more.”

Sherwin-Williams officials said they are excited to promote at tracks where the IndyCar Series races but NASCAR’s Sprint Cup does not.

The Sherwin-Williams deal is the latest in a string of new sponsorship pacts the series has forged in the last 18 months, including a title deal with Verizon and agreements with Panasonic, Tag Heuer, Angie’s List and Lilly Diabetes and renewals with Chevrolet and Sunoco.

The series is “real close” to renewing its deal with Honda as an engine supplier and major sponsor, Frye said. The current Honda deal expires at the end of this year.

With year-end television ratings and series-wide attendance figures expected to be up this year over last, Frye said he thinks the IndyCar Series will continue to gain momentum.

The open-wheel series has two more races this year and concludes Aug. 30 in Sonoma, California.

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