IndyCar Series extends deal with ESPN International for worldwide television rights A.J. Foyt Racing hires new engineer Eleven IndyCar Series drivers entered in PRI karting event Dallara honored at World Motorsport Symposium
1. IndyCar Series extends deal with ESPN International for worldwide television rights: The IndyCar Series today announced an extension of its long-time association with ESPN International for worldwide (excluding the United States and Brazil) distribution of IndyCar Series broadcast rights until 2010, with a further two-year option for both parties.
The multi-year extension agreement gives ESPN International the exclusive right to distribute live, delayed and highlight programs via all forms of broadcast media, broadband, webcast and mobile for all IndyCar Series events, including the Indianapolis 500, Indy 500 support programming and Firestone Indy Lights.
“We are very pleased to extend our long-term partnership with ESPN International,” said Charlie Morgan, president and chief operating officer for IMS Productions. “The broad reach of ESPN International is a real benefit to our drivers, teams, sponsors and not least of all, the worldwide open-wheel racing fan.”
Earlier this year, the IndyCar Series announced its domestic television package including a renewal of its long-time partnership with ABC for the Indianapolis 500 and four other races and a new partnership with VERSUS for a minimum of 12 events annually.
“We are delighted to be able to extend our deal with the IndyCar Series,” said Tim Bunnell, senior vice president of programming at ESPN International. “Motorsports continue to be hugely popular with sports fans around the world. It therefore makes sense that the IndyCar Series is part of our programming strategy for our channels and part of our global program distribution strategy.”
The IndyCar Series continues its long-term partnership with BAND TV for Brazilian television rights.
“It’s only natural that we have a broad-based international television distribution package with ESPN International given the diverse driver line-up and schedule offered by the IndyCar Series,” said Terry Angstadt, president, commercial division for the Indy Racing League, the sanctioning body for the IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights. “The IndyCar Series has a broad and loyal global television audience.”
Based in Bristol, Conn., ESPN, Inc. is the world’s leading multinational, multimedia sports entertainment company featuring a portfolio of more than 50 multimedia sports assets. ESPN is 80 percent owned by ABC, Inc., which is an indirect subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. The Hearst Corporation holds a 20 percent interest in ESPN. ESPN International has grown to include ownership — in whole or in part — of more than 45 television networks outside of the United States, as well as a variety of brand extension businesses, which allow ESPN to reach fans in 201 countries and territories.
2. A.J. Foyt Racing hires new engineer: A.J. Foyt Racing hired Adam Schaechter as the team’s chief engineer. Schaechter’s first day with the team was Dec. 1.
Schaechter worked in the Champ Car World Series from 1999-2004 and 2006-07 and with chassis manufacturer Swift in 2005.
“It’s always a bit of an unknown as to how everyone will communicate, but I was impressed with the way A.J. (Foyt), Vitor (Meira) and Adam worked so well together,” team director Larry Foyt said after the team tested Dec. 9 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. “Adam seems like he fits right in with our group. I’m excited about our team’s potential for the season.”
3. Eleven IndyCar Series drivers entered in PRI karting event: The Masters division for the Snap-on Stars of Karting presented by the IndyCar Series All-Star Karting Classic on Dec. 11 will resemble an IndyCar Series race grid.
Eleven IndyCar Series drivers are entered in the event to be held in conjunction with the Performance Racing Industry trade show at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.
Scheduled to compete are Marco Andretti, Townsend Bell, Ed Carpenter, Jay Howard, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Raphael Matos, Vitor Meira, Will Power, Buddy Rice, Alex Tagliani and Dan Wheldon. Also entered are former series drivers Bryan Herta and Max Papis.
For many of the drivers, the competition on a course set up in a parking lot of the convention center will be a return to their roots. For Vision Racing’s Carpenter, it’s also a second day of track activity before he joins his family at Walt Disney World. He joined Meira and Matos in testing Dec. 9-10 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“Karting is where it all began for me, but it’s one part of my driving that I’ve never completely stepped away from,” said Power, who competed for KV Racing Technology in 2008. “I still drive karts regularly both here in Indianapolis and back home in Toowoomba (Australia). The karts are so fast and the tracks are so demanding that it’s the best way to keep your eye in between races or during the off-season.
“And on top of all those benefits, it’s a huge amount of much fun and something you can do with your friends, whether it’s other drivers or just your mates. So you can understand why so many drivers keep racing karts through their whole careers. Any training you do that’s also fun is always great.”
Firestone Indy Lights drivers Bobby Wilson, Cyndie Allemann and James Davison are entered in the Karters division race.
Action begins at 7 p.m. Admission is free with a PRI show credential. A 30-minute highlight show will be broadcast by FOX in April.
“We are very excited to have the All-Stars Karting Classic return,” said Steve Lewis, producer of the PRI Trade Show. “Kart racing is where many of the drivers now enjoying successful careers at upper-level auto racing series began. The All-Stars line-up last year featured a tremendous array of pro drivers, and everyone can look forward to another stellar group of Stars karters and great racing action.”
4. Dallara honored at World Motorsport Symposium: IndyCar Series chassis manufacturer Dallara was honored at the World Motorsport Symposium awards in Oxford, England.
Dialma Zinellis, Dallara’s head of aerodynamics, accepted the Racecar Aerodynamicist of the Year award. Dallara is the sole chassis supplier for the IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights.
The 2009 IndyCar Series season opens April 5 with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. The race will be telecast live at 2 p.m. (EDT) by VERSUS. The 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season begins with a doubleheader race weekend April 4-5 at St. Petersburg.