(Illustration courtesy IMG)

NASCAR partners with marketing powerhouse IMG to expand global broadcasting reach

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With NBC Sports set to take over the final 20 races of the Sprint Cup Season and the final 19 races of the Nationwide Series (soon to be renamed) in 2015, NASCAR on Monday announced that it has hired marketing heavyweight firm IMG in “establishing a long-term and sustainable global commercial broadcast media distribution strategy,” according to a NASCAR media release.

Combined with Fox Sports’ telecasts of the first 16 Cup races, the first 14 Nationwide Series races and the entire 20-plus Camping World Truck Series schedule in 2015, IMG will, according to the media release, “be responsible for helping the sport increase its footprint, audience base and revenues outside of North America and South America.

“In addition to leveraging the popularity of motorsports in key international territories like Western Europe and Australia, IMG will further develop NASCAR television rights commercially in markets where motorsports are less widely known such as Southeast Asia, China and Eastern Europe.”

NASCAR races are currently broadcast in over 175 countries through more than 20 broadcast partners around the globe. All existing international rights expire at the end of this season and IMG will help in renewing existing contracts and potentially expanding to include new contracts with other entities, and especially extending NASCAR telecasts into international markets that do not currently broadcast races.

“NASCAR, already a global brand with deep international appeal, is positioning itself for robust growth beyond our borders by partnering with the world’s television and digital media content delivery leader,” said Brent Dewar, NASCAR chief operating officer. “This long-term partnership with IMG Media signals to the world our strong intentions to grow the sport in every corner of the world.”

Added IMG senior vice president and head of Media North America Hillary Mandel, “We have a history of working with ‘blue chip’ world-class sports in the U.S. and developing brands internationally. This experience and expertise will ensure the right broadcasters embrace NASCAR for the renowned sports property it is. Our dedicated team will work with NASCAR and alongside our unrivaled global sales force in more than 30 offices worldwide to ensure both extensive media coverage across all platforms and increased awareness worldwide. We are extremely excited by the opportunities that lie ahead.”

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Ecclestone has ‘no doubts’ Monza will remain on F1 calendar

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MILAN (AP) Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone is confident the Italian Grand Prix in Monza can find the needed cash to stay on the calendar.

Ecclestone tells the Gazzetta dello Sport, “We will find the right solution – I no longer have doubts – to provide a future for the Italian GP.”

No circuit has hosted more F1 racing than Monza, but officials at the track outside Milan have had trouble producing the estimated 25 million euros ($26.6 million) per year that Ecclestone seeks to keep the race in place after the current contract expires next year.

Ecclstone says, “Things have been cleared up and there is only one go between, (Angelo) Sticchi Damiani, the president of the Italian Automobile Club.”

The Italian GP next year is scheduled for Sept. 4.

Alternative engine solution rejected by F1 Commission

Nico Rosberg

Plans to introduce a new alternative, cheaper engine into Formula 1 for 2017 – hypothetically a 2.2-liter V6 similar to what is seen in IndyCar – will at least temporarily go on the backburner.

The F1 Commission has rejected the so called “alternative engine solution,” where several companies submitted proposals to be that alternative supplier.

“The F1 Commission voted not to pursue this option at this stage — however, it may be reassessed after the Power Unit manufacturers have presented their proposal to the Strategy Group,” the FIA said on Wednesday.

“The parties involved have agreed on a course to address several key areas relating to Power Unit supply in Formula One,” the statement added.

Meanwhile the statement outlined four things the current manufacturers – Mercedes, Ferrari, Renault and Honda – would be tasked with improving on the current 1.6-liter formula:

Those are:

  • a guarantee of supply to teams
  • the need to reduce the engines’ cost
  • simplification of the specification
  • “improved noise”

Further meetings between the manufacturers and the governing body are scheduled, including one this weekend at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix season finale.

As F1 heads into the final weekend of the season, political/paddock items such as Red Bull and Toro Rosso’s respective power unit futures, whether Renault’s takeover of Lotus will finally become official and what will happen with Manor’s team leadership stake – this marks Graeme Lowdon and John Booth’s final weekends although ex-McLaren man Dave Ryan has been hired as the team’s new racing director – are among the talking points.

Stoffel Vandoorne’s Super Formula test hampered by engine woes

Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Stoffel Vandoorne
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You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Dominant GP2 Series champion Stoffel Vandoorne had his first go in a Super Formula car at Suzuka on Wednesday, but the engine woes that have hampered his Formula 1 team’s efforts (McLaren) all season appear to be equal opportunity woes.

Vandoorne only completed a limited day of running due to technical issues; naturally, and in an unfortunate coincidence, the Super Formula cars also have Honda power.

The Belgian is now en route from Japan to Abu Dhabi, where this weekend’s final round of the GP2 season will be held alongside the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

FIA Formula E to remain at Battersea Park following vote

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Wandsworth Council’s Community Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee voted seven to four late Tuesday night, in favor of retaining the FIA Formula E event in Battersea Park.

This will see the London ePrix – the season finale for the electric open-wheel championship – continue at the site for at least the next two seasons.

The 2016 race will run July 2-3, to avoid a direct head-to-head clash with the British Grand Prix a week later in Silverstone.

Battersea Park’s race faced local opposition in recent weeks, which put the race under threat.