USCC: Extreme Speed signs up Ryan Dalziel for 2014 season

Leave a comment

Just days after closing their American Le Mans Series run with a second-place finish in the P2 team and driver’s championships, Extreme Speed Motorsports has revealed its plans for next year’s inaugural Tudor United SportsCar Championship season.

The Scott Sharp-led squad has signed former 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Ryan Dalziel (pictured), who drove full-time this past year with Starworks Motorsport in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series. There, he and co-driver Alex Popow were part of a thrilling championship battle in the Daytona Prototype category before eventually finishing fifth in the standings.

Dalziel also competed in the ALMS this year for SRT Motorsports at Sebring, Le Mans and last weekend at the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. In 2012, he helped Starworks claim the GRAND-AM North American Endurance Championship and took three ALMS wins for CORE Autosport in a Prototype Challenge machine.

“I could not be happier or any more excited about joining ESM in 2014,” Dalziel said in a team release. “I have been a huge admirer of the team over the past few seasons. I was really impressed with 2013, at how quickly they adapted to the P2 class.

“ESM and [sponsor] Patrón are really stepping things up for 2014 and I think that as a team we will be very strong. I know many of the key people within the team and am really proud to be part of their driver lineup. I think together, we can accomplish many wins.”

In his own thoughts, Sharp said he was “extremely excited” to have a talent like Dalziel on board.

“I truly feel he is the perfect fit – super fast in everything he drives, technically committed, a team player, and a really great guy,” the former IndyCar pilot said. “I think he will fit into exactly what we and the rest of the team have been building for the last four years.”

Dalziel will team up with Sharp in the No. 01 ESM Honda Performance Development ARX-03b as the team transitions from the ALMS’ P2 category to the Prototype category in the new United series.

As for ESM’s sister car, the No. 02 HPD ARX-03b, its driving duo of Johannes van Overbeek and Ed Brown will remain intact for a second straight season. This past year, the JVO/Brown combo notched three podium finishes at Long Beach, Baltimore and Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

‘Game-changing’ multi-year agreement will take INDYCAR, NBC Sports ‘to the next level’


NEW YORK – As the fourth Nor’easter in three weeks bore down on the Big Apple, it was tough to spot people that were clearly in a good mood.

But Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports and NBCSN, was clearly in a good mood.

On Wednesday morning at 10 am ET, we all found out why: NBC will become the exclusive home of the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500, starting in 2019.

The new three-year deal not only makes “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” part of the network’s “Championship Season” – its collection of high-profile championship events from May to July – but also reaffirms NBC’s status as the home of motorsports television in the United States.

That status is something Miller doesn’t take for granted.

“It’s important people know that storytelling is in our DNA, and motorsports lends itself very well to storytelling,” Miller said as he, INDYCAR CEO Mark Miles and driver James Hinchcliffe made a snowy trek to the New York Stock Exchange to promote the deal on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.”

“We’ve had great success with the second half of the entire NASCAR season, and then we’ve had half of the IndyCar package [since 2009] … But we never had the real meat of the series and that didn’t set anybody up for success.

“Having the entire package of IndyCar now – all 17 races, qualifying, practice, you name it – really sets IndyCar on a strong path and solidifies NBC’s position as the home of motorsports. I think it becomes a property much like the Premier League, the NHL, and even the Olympics and the Triple Crown. We have 100 percent of the media opportunity and we can put all those great assets behind it.”

With the storm no doubt keeping some traders home, the floor of the NYSE was relatively subdued. But that made it no less important to be at the heart of Wall Street. Miles and his team are pursuing a new title sponsor for the IndyCar Series to replace Verizon, which will fully focus its efforts in the series with the powerhouse Team Penske going forward in 2019.

The new deal – which includes 8 races per year on the NBC network (with the remaining races going to NBCSN), live streaming of all races, and a direct-to-consumer package with NBC Sports Gold – gave Miles plenty to push for any potential backers. As for Hinchcliffe, he held his own nicely in an interview that also explored IndyCar’s global ambitions, the impact of technology on the sport, and of course, his spin around the ballroom on “Dancing with the Stars.”

On the ride back to 30 Rock, Miles was confident that NBC can play a big role in attracting a sponsor that can help the series keep growing.

“With respect to our work in finding the best title sponsor, it’s really important – and this has not been talked about much – but we expect to work with hand in glove with NBC’s sales,” he explained. “We have the opportunity to create packages which are both broadcast sponsorship and series sponsorship, I think, in a way that doesn’t come along very often.

“Usually, the media deal and the sponsorship deal doesn’t align like this, so we’re really excited about the offering we’ll have and the approach to the market we can take.”

Should the partnership with NBC bear fruit on that front and others, it will only add to the upswing that the IndyCar Series has had in recent years.

Hinchcliffe has been a witness to that. He entered the series in 2011, when it was trying to find its footing after the sport’s reunification three years earlier. After 13 years of CART vs. the Indy Racing League, getting everything back under one roof was not a smooth process.

But fast-forward seven years, and things have changed for the better. TV ratings and digital viewers have gone up. Race scheduling has become more stable and enhanced with the return of traditional open-wheel markets. And this year’s debut of the universal aero kit aims to pump up the action on the track, while also giving the cars a cleaner, meaner look.

Now, with NBC all in, Hinchcliffe is bullish on his sport’s future.

“This is a game-changing thing for us,” he declared. “If you look at the last four or five years, we’ve seen a steady growth in pretty much every measureable metric that there is – in a time where, globally, motorsports is in a bit of a downturn.

“The fact that IndyCar was able to rally against a global dip in motorsports interest, attendance, sponsorship – it speaks volumes to what we have been doing and this is just gonna take us to that next level.”