Miles says IndyCar title sponsor coming 'very soon' but won't confirm NTT-Data
Mark Miles, the head of US motor racing’s IndyCar Series, has said that he remains confident that a new title sponsor will be announced this month, but would not be drawn on whether it will be NTT-Data, the Japanese IT giant.
The organisers of the series have been in the market for a new major sponsor after Verizon, the US telecoms group, decided not to extend its deal beyond the 2018 season.
Miles, the president and chief executive of IndyCar parent Hulman & Co., wants to see a new partner in place before next month’s test in Austin, Texas, ahead of the new campaign in March, and is also anticipating a new presenting sponsor for the showpiece Indianapolis 500 in May.
At a press conference on Wednesday to present national network NBC’s expanded coverage of the 2018 season, Miles (pictured, right) said: “Today we are not making an announcement about our next title sponsor, but I would just say to you we expect that that will be very soon, and we are delighted at the news that we expect to be able to make quite quickly."
He added: “I won't be specific at all, but we're quite optimistic now that we will soon be able to name a new presenting sponsor for the Indianapolis 500-mile race. All these are great companies that love IndyCar racing and the 500 and will be, I think, great partners in helping us grow the sport."
Talk that NTT-Data, a sponsor of the Chip Ganassi Racing team, could be stepping up its involvement in IndyCar was stimulated by a new commercial that NBC aired during its coverage of Sunday’s NFL wild card playoff game between the Chicago Bears and the Philadelphia Eagles that featured defending champion Scott Dixon (pictured, left) and the Indianapolis 500, with several close-ups of the company’s branding on the driver’s visor.
Asked if this hinted at the new title sponsor, Miles said smilingly: "You don’t think that was by design, do you? But right now, I’m not even going to confirm if we have a deal signed or not. That will be revealed soon."
The 2019 IndyCar season starts with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in Florida on 10 March, and NBC is to show eight of the 17 races, including the Indy 500, on its main channel, with others on cable channel NBCSN.
The offering will add to up to almost 350 hours across all platforms this year.
Miles said: "This will be the most complete and robust season of IndyCar viewing for our fans."
NBC is assuming exclusive live coverage of IndyCar in a three-year deal, which has brought an end to the long-running broadcasts of the series, in particular the Indy 500, on rival network ABC.