Little cars big deal for IRL

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hotwheelsIndy Racing League officials are finalizing a deal with Mattel’s Hot Wheels to roll out a line of replica open-wheel cars this spring. As little cars go, this is a pretty big deal. Hot Wheels, which first came out in 1968, is easily the leading seller of toy and replica cars in North America. Hot Wheels has long been one of Mattel’s top revenue generators internationally.

Mattel officials approached the IRL last year about releasing a line of the standard-sized Hot Wheels cars to look just like the real race cars, something which should make IRL sponsors very happy. Though Mattel isn’t forking over much cash for the deal, the California-based company is promising to put lots of marketing muscle behind the initiative.

“This is a pretty comprehensive program where Hot Wheels is going to come up with a bunch of cars,” said IRL spokesman John Griffin. “They’re working with all the teams and drivers, so you’ll see a 7-11 car and a Motorola car and a lot of others. Clearly from a licensing and promotional stand point, this is a huge opportunity for us.”

Mattel also has proposed releasing a special series of larger toy IRL cars, and intends to put the 2009 IRL schedule on all of its packaging for IRL-themed items. IRL also will have a prominent presence on Hot Wheels’ interactive Web site.

Mattel officials are currently working on a number of promotions for the new line, Griffin said, and plan to be active at IRL races during the upcoming season.

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