Skip to content

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…

Latest Posts
  1. Bottas and Massa to remain with Williams for 2016

    Sep 3, 2015, 5:38 AM EDT

    NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 05:  Felipe Massa of Brazil and Williams drives ahead of Valtteri Bottas of Finland and Williams during the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 5, 2015 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Williams confirms an unchanged line-up for 2016, keeping Bottas and Massa together for a third season.

  2. Mardenborough set for GP2 debut at Monza with Carlin this weekend

    Sep 2, 2015, 2:36 PM EDT

    Photo: NISMO Photo: NISMO

    Jann Mardenborough steps up from GP3 into GP2 this weekend.

  3. James Hinchcliffe describes how inspired he was by Justin Wilson

    Sep 2, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    Hinchjw AP

    Hinchcliffe recalls racing, commentating on Justin Wilson.

  4. NHRA: Leah Pritchett climbing mountains as she continues to grow career

    Sep 2, 2015, 12:26 PM EDT

    All Photos: Gumout/Dote Racing All Photos: Gumout/Dote Racing

    Leah Pritchett looks to make her mark even more in NHRA Top Fuel, going into U.S. Nationals.

  5. Dixon: “I don’t think anybody had a stellar season”

    Sep 2, 2015, 11:22 AM EDT

    DixonJPM AP

    Dixon offers a rebuttal to Montoya’s dig about a “poor” season.

  6. Hulkenberg: Force India recovery influenced new deal

    Sep 2, 2015, 9:17 AM EDT

    xxxx during qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on August 22, 2015 in Spa, Belgium. Getty Images

    Hulkenberg reveals he held talks with Haas F1 Team about a seat for 2016 before opting to remain with Force India.

  7. Takuma Sato ends 2015 on a good note

    Sep 1, 2015, 6:37 PM EDT

    (Photo courtesy TakumaSato.com) (Photo courtesy TakumaSato.com)

    Sato improved four spots in the driver standings over his 2014 result.

  8. Ryan Briscoe finishes short 2015 season with top-five finish

    Sep 1, 2015, 5:25 PM EDT

    Firestone 600 - Practice Getty Images

    Substituting for James Hinchcliffe, Briscoe ended his abridged 2015 with his first top-five finish of the year.

  9. Report: Derrick Walker reflects on IndyCar tenure and future

    Sep 1, 2015, 4:07 PM EDT

    DerrickWalker2

    Walker spoke with racing journalist Gordon Kirby about his two years in charge of competition and operations.

  10. Social Roundup: IndyCar season-ending banquet

    Sep 1, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    © INDYCAR © INDYCAR

    A look at the festivities held in San Francisco on Monday night.

  11. Reports: IndyCar’s testing plans for Road America, updates for road course

    Sep 1, 2015, 1:07 PM EDT

    Generac Grand Prix Getty Images

    Track president George Bruggenthies provided details on what to expect at the track next June.

  12. Hulkenberg extends contract with Force India for two more years

    Sep 1, 2015, 9:19 AM EDT

    HulkLaunch15 Getty Images

    Hulkenberg announces two-year extension with Force India F1.

  13. Ten with Townsend: Sonoma and 2015 IndyCar debrief

    Sep 1, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    dixonconfetti Getty Images

    NBCSN’s Townsend Bell checks in for the final IndyCar installment of “Ten with Townsend” for 2015, after Sonoma.

  14. Dixon’s latest title a story of consistency, comeback, typical “Ice Man” cool

    Aug 31, 2015, 6:45 PM EDT

    DixonChamp2 AP

    MotorSportsTalk’s Tony DiZinno reflects on the latest championship achieved by Scott Dixon and the Target Chip Ganassi Racing team.

  15. Damien Power hits Sonoma in person, live tweets, preps for IndyCar video series

    Aug 31, 2015, 5:35 PM EDT

    © INDYCAR © INDYCAR

    Damien Power hits Sonoma to meet up with brother Will. Hilarity ensues.