Q&A: Kevin Healy on Milwaukee IndyFest activation heading into Wisconsin State Fair

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Throughout the year, MotorSportsTalk has been chronicling the preparation for the ABC Supply Co. Wisconsin 250 at Milwaukee IndyFest Presented by the Metro Milwaukee Honda Dealers. As the race nears, and the Wisconsin State Fair begins this Thursday at Wisconsin State Fair Park, we caught up with Milwaukee IndyFest general manager Kevin Healy of Andretti Sports Marketing for a wide-ranging chat of topics before the race. In part one of this two-part interview, Healy outlines plans for IndyFest activation at the State Fair, and expands on the race’s new partnership with Visit Milwaukee to expand the reach to fans outside the Milwaukee area:

MotorSportsTalk: Can you expand a bit on the Visit Milwaukee state tourism grant program? 

Kevin Healy: It’s a joint effort, marketing program. Essentially it’s a matching program that produces the economic benefit of tourism within the state of Wisconsin.

What it does for us is that it helps fund the marketing necessary to reach out to Northern Illinois/Chicago market to bring them in to the race. It helps us double our dollar value and do more marketing in conjunction with Visit Milwaukee. We’re able to build that into our overall marketing plan. That drives more into the event, adds to an important market and continues to expand the fan base for Milwaukee IndyFest.

Can you expand on what the plans for activation and promotion are at the Wisconsin State Fair?

KH: It is a full booth, display area throughout the State Fair. Whenever the fair is open, we’ll be there. It should be a lot of fun.

When you’re planning a race, you’re asking who are you trying to bring into the race.

There’s the core race fan – and you’re always going after them. You never want to take them for granted. Generally, they know racing in Milwaukee is excellent.

There’s families. With families, you’re building fans for the future. And that’s what we’ve done with the infield. 

The general entertainment seeker is another. State Fair had 1.1 million fan-goers last year, so that’s a lot of eyeballs. For us, activating in the fair, throughout the 10 days of the fair, is a great opportunity.

The activation will include multiple show cars – we will likely trade them out a couple times. That’s an obvious.

Then we will sort of replicate the winner’s circle. There will be the podium, with backdrop for a photo opp, and we will also have Trophy Night. The Milwaukee IndyFest trophy will be there, as well as the Astor Cup (the season-long Verizon IndyCar Series championship). It’s a long shot trying for the Borg-Warner – I’d love to get that out there – but we won’t give up.

There will be some interactive displays, including some science/tech elements for racing. Your goal is always to make that connection that turns someone into a fan.

There’s an IndyCar 101 component. We’ll have a couple different driver appearances; because once you meet a driver you can establish that connection.

At State Fair, they have a parade every day, a la Disney. There’s one day where probably the two-seater will be in the parade, and other days the Honda pace car. So you can see the pace car and two-seaters.

There’s a possible contest that if you’re a fair-goer, you can win a ride, work with IndyCar Experience for that. The grand prize is a hot lap 2-seater at Milwaukee IndyFest. That’s a big aspirational goal, since almost everyone would love to take that ride, and it creates that connection of winning and coming to the event. It’s a really cool opp.

For the State Fair – as I’ve said, when we first came back, without the State Fair and its level of cooperation, it just wouldn’t be possible for us to put on this event.

Here’s a deal on IndyFest tickets from the Wisconsin State Fair. State Fair runs July 31-August 10. 

Penske, DXC Technology continue on Pagenaud’s IndyCar

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Team Penske and DXC Technology will renew their partnership for the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season. DXC joined Penske in 2017, serving as a primary sponsor for six races on Simon Pagenaud’s No. 1 Team Penske Chevrolet.

In re-upping with Penske, DXC will again adorn Pagenaud’s entry – switching back to the No. 22 in 2018, with teammate Josef Newgarden carrying the champion’s No. 1 – for six races, the first being the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in April.

“Team Penske is excited to grow the partnership with DXC Technology for 2018,” said team owner Roger Penske via a release. “This is a technology-dependent sport and we were able to integrate DXC into our INDYCAR program this season and we will be ready to take our performance, and hopefully our results, to the next level with them in 2018.”

Pagenaud echoed Penske’s sentiments, adding that team and sponsor share a common philosophy that drives them forward. ““I enjoyed working with DXC Technology and representing their brand this past season. DXC Technology shares a similar philosophy with us at Team Penske, which is to strive for excellence. We are very proud to work together relentlessly toward further limits in our respective industries. We were excited to get a win with them in Sonoma and everyone at Team Penske wants to build on that as we welcome them back for 2018.”

DXC president, chairman, and CEO Mike Lawrie also highlighted Penske’s reputation as a point of interest to continue their partnership.

“Our partnership with Team Penske provides a great opportunity for DXC Technology,” said Lawrie. “Performance and reputation make Team Penske the type of organization with which we want to align. Like us, they strive for excellence in everything they do and work diligently to provide value for both sides of the relationship.”

Photo: IndyCar

The DXC partnership extension is one of several Team Penske has announced in recent weeks, which are as follows on the IndyCar program:

  • REV Group, a leading manufacturer of specialty vehicle brands serving the commercial, fire and emergency and recreational markets, will continue as a full-season associate sponsor on the No. 1 of Josef Newgarden and the No. 3 of Helio Castroneves during the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500 during the month of May.
  • Fitzgerald Glider Kits, North America’s leading truck glider kit assembler, will also continue as an associate sponsor with a presence on Newgarden’s No. 1 Chevrolet throughout next season.
  • Miller Lite, Discount Tire, Alliance Truck Parts, Wurth Group and Auto Club of Southern California and AAA have extended with Team Penske’s NASCAR programs.

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