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With IZOD leaving, there’s two likely candidates that make sense for IndyCar

Sep 30, 2013, 3:00 PM EDT

Will Power AP

IZOD got what it could from the first four years of its six-year relationship with IndyCar before announcing its departure. It’s easy to forget now but there was a crescendo of activation from its initial dip into the series’ waters in 2008 through the end of the 2011 season.

While the last two years have seen a minimal IZOD presence, the presence of one partner increasing its visibility has been obvious and a second, long-time partner also makes quite decent sense. On the surface, it seems logical one of the two will take over for IZOD as title sponsor of the IndyCar Series.

VERIZON

Verizon would be a major coup for IndyCar title sponsor. It entered on a part-time basis with Roger Penske in 2009, with Will Power’s third car carrying Verizon signage at two races (Long Beach, Indianapolis). Verizon upped the ante to full-time sponsorship in 2010 with Power and hasn’t looked back since.

Beyond the No. 12 Team Penske Chevrolet, though, Verizon has entered into a partnership with IndyCar via the official Verizon INDYCAR app, and it has a team of marketing people at every race working to provide inside access for the fans.  Verizon has also been visible on the rear wheel guards of every single IndyCar this year, new for 2013.

From a “beyond IndyCar” standpoint, think for a second about how many Verizon stores and dealers there are nationwide. You have a company that could use IndyCar as its selling point versus NASCAR – sponsored by rival Sprint. Marketing aspects could include speed (230 mph-plus), the Indianapolis 500, and a variety of circuits and markets unmatched by any North American series. It also targets a much wider demographic outside the niche that is racing fans, given the level of exposure and the number of individuals nationwide who have Verizon products.

It’s exciting to write about the possibility, and I’m hoping it’s not just a dream at this point. If not Verizon, though, there’s one other company that makes a ton of sense:

FIRESTONE

IndyCar, its drivers and teams, love their Firestone tires. So much so, that there was a near mutiny toward the end of Randy Bernard’s era at the helm of the series at the mere suggestion of Continental tires coming into play as a replacement, both as a tire partner and potential title sponsor.

Looking at Firestone’s landscape this year, there have been many key changes. Longtime heads Al Speyer and Joe Barbieri have moved on. The company entered into sports car racing this year with the Bridgestone brand supplying the DeltaWing, but that will end at the end of the year with all prototypes in Tudor UnitedSports Car running on – ironically – Continentals next year. Additionally, Firestone moves on from Indy Lights at the end of the year, with Cooper supplying them next year.

From a branding and activation standpoint, Firestone could put all its muscle behind IndyCar and there would be no better way to do so than as title sponsor.

I will say this as a word of caution, though. Firestone would be a more conservative choice because it penetrates an older audience and the automotive market first, whereas you tend to think of Verizon as a company that could reach a wider, younger audience.

And if history is a judge, Firestone’s been here before. The awkward, clunky “Bridgestone presents the Champ Car World Series powered by Ford” from 2003 through 2006 was a nice way of saying, “Well, we have Firestone/Bridgestone support, but not much else.” By 2007, the warning signs had emerged for Champ Car, Bridgestone pulled its title sponsorship and Champ Car was absorbed by INDYCAR prior to 2008. Correlation is not causation, I know, but I don’t think anyone in the current landscape wants to feel the same about the possibility of a Firestone title sponsorship this time around.

Bottom line: I’d be happy with either, given their current involvement in the sport and respective levels of activation. So long as we don’t hearken back to the “Pep Boys” or “Northern Lights” eras…

  1. wallio - Sep 30, 2013 at 4:09 PM

    No way on Firestone. The “near mutiny” you reference was because Firestone was no longer interested in suppling IndyCar. It demanded a huge price increase to stay, and for whatever reason, the teams agreed. Love how they complain about costs but turn down (nearly) free tyres. Anyway, firestone is not in play. Verizon though makes a lot of sense. Hope it happens.

    • PJC - Sep 30, 2013 at 6:54 PM

      Actually… Randy Bernard apparently thought he was above everyone in IndyCar, blowing off the drivers, team owners, sponsors and manufacturers. He repeatedly set up meetings, often having important people come from long distances, then would cancel at the last minute and leave them hanging.

      He was immediately fired when it was discovered he had repeatedly blown off numerous meetings with Firestone, who were trying to sign a new contract, because he had been negotiating a deal with another manufacturer which would benefit himself.

  2. bikesgonewild - Sep 30, 2013 at 4:47 PM

    …kind of a shame…even as a kid & a racing fan in the ’50’s & early ’60’s, the names firestone & indy went hand in hand in my mind long before goodyear made it’s presence felt…

  3. AGMWorld - Sep 30, 2013 at 5:37 PM

    If Verizon becomes the IndyCar title sponsor, I would definitely be concerned that they will end their sponsorship with Will Power.

  4. wallio - Sep 30, 2013 at 11:17 PM

    ^Nice to see Tony George finally has made a screen name here. Long live the Vision eh?

    Spin it however you want Tony, IICS teams had to pony up big time for this contract, way more than Continental was asking. Now whether or not that matters is another story (Stones are obviously much better tyres). I’he been thinking about this all day, and what about Fuzzy’s? They not only sponsor the Triple Crown, but they had the biggest souviner/PR trailer of ANYONE at Pocono this year. Why not? Patron used to sponsor ALMS.

    • Tony DiZinno - Sep 30, 2013 at 11:29 PM

      Hardly spinning, Wallio. Well aware of the increase that came about as a result. I’m not sure whether Fuzzy’s has the capacity to make a leap to title sponsorship support, but anything’s possible.

    • snoopyo - Oct 1, 2013 at 4:21 PM

      Awesome wallio. I was wondering if that was Tony George as well. TG was the one who thought he was above everyone and TG blew off meetings as well mainly a big one with CART owners before his league raced its first race in Orlando.

  5. wallio - Oct 1, 2013 at 7:55 AM

    ah, I wasn’t referring to you Tony, but PLC, as Tony George lol.

  6. f1fan1 - Oct 1, 2013 at 10:47 AM

    Angie’s List, from one bullsh!t gomer company to another. Either that or Clabber Girl. It’s all going to be coming out of the family pockets anyway if they want to keep this turd from being flushed.

  7. wallio - Oct 1, 2013 at 11:49 AM

    Well Clabber Girl wouldn’t be the worst idea, honesty is the best policy afterall.

  8. Jeff - Oct 1, 2013 at 1:10 PM

    I like the idea of an automotive-based company sponsoring IndyCar.
    Of course Verizon might be able to bring in some people who aren’t race fans.

  9. worknman24hours - Oct 1, 2013 at 9:55 PM

    Indycar better get a big sponsor to commit and soon.

    Of the two, Verizon would be the best.

    It could be called the Verizon FIOS Indycar Racing Series.

  10. Jeff - Oct 3, 2013 at 12:41 PM

    Robin Miller reported that Verizon is out because Randy Bernard was fired by the owners.

  11. indycar02 - Oct 4, 2013 at 4:14 PM

    dont lol but maybe budweiser? bed bull?…

  12. indycar02 - Oct 4, 2013 at 10:07 PM

    ive read godaddy is leaving andretti autosport, so, maybe godaddy to sponsor indycar.

    • worknman24hours - Oct 5, 2013 at 9:07 AM

      Not enough money at Godaddy.

  13. worknman24hours - Oct 5, 2013 at 9:12 AM

    Any sponsor is preferable to no sponsor.

    Indycar better get busy.

  14. kitnamania13 - Oct 5, 2013 at 1:07 PM

    Why not have BCG sponsor the Indycar series? They could even arrange it that instead of paying Indycar with money, they just give the series more brilliant ideas.

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