Report: Andretti Sports Marketing adds ex-St. Pete race president

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Interesting story to pass on in the “business of racing” section this morning. Former Grand Prix of St. Petersburg president Tim Ramsberger is leaving the event to join Andretti Sports Marketing, per the Tampa Bay Times.

It marks the second high-profile departure from the St. Pete event in the last year; Honda also ended its title sponsorship prior to the 2014 race, but on that front, Firestone took over.

The St. Pete race – along with races in Toronto and Mid-Ohio – are run and operated by Green Savoree Racing Promotions, which sees former Andretti partners Kim Green and Kevin Savoree in charge on their own.

Andretti Sports Marketing, meanwhile, has quickly risen in the racing world. The organization promotes the Verizon IndyCar Series race at Milwaukee IndyFest, and also promotes races within Red Bull Global Rallycross (Volkswagen Rallycross DC) and FIA Formula E (planned Miami round).

Ramsberger told the Times he sees a better opportunity for himself within Andretti Sports Marketing, looking long-term.

“I think it’s a great opportunity and probably just a better opportunity for growth for me professionally long term,” he said.

Savoree told the Times not to worry and that plans are in place to keep the Green Savoree events running smoothly and with solid enough financial footing for the next several years.

The three Green Savoree events for IndyCar for 2014 are in the books – all of St. Pete, Toronto and Mid-Ohio had the unfortunate luck of rain falling on Saturday this year and races were either canceled (Pirelli World Challenge Round 1 at St. Pete) or postponed (IndyCar race 1 in Toronto). But race day crowds at each event looked healthy.

Meanwhile Andretti’s first IndyCar race of the year – Milwaukee – is next up on the schedule. It runs August 16-17 at the Milwaukee Mile.

Danica Patrick to sign off driving career at 2018 Indy 500

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With her full-time career in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series now coming to an end, following the end of the 2017 season this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Danica Patrick is embarking on a new path in 2018 with the two biggest 500-mile races in North America.

Patrick confirmed plans to participate in North America’s most marquee 500-mile races, the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500, during a press conference today in Miami. A team for the Indianapolis 500 has not been determined, and her options for the Daytona 500 are limited to NASCAR teams with three or fewer full-time cars, because a four-car full-time team cannot enter a fifth for the Daytona 500.

Patrick ended her full-time career in IndyCar after 2011 to head to NASCAR. She drove 10 races in 2012 before her first full Cup season in 2013, where she won the pole for that year’s Daytona 500 and ultimately finished eighth.

Her Cup career has seen her finish between 24th and 28th in points with seven career top-10 finishes, all between sixth and 10th place. She ranks 27th heading into this week’s finale too.

It was her IndyCar career though where she first entered the national conversation after a few years of apprenticeship driving for Bobby Rahal’s Barber Dodge and Formula Atlantic teams. A fourth place finish in the 2005 Indianapolis 500 with a number of laps led launched her into the racing stratosphere and helped produce the Indianapolis 500’s biggest rating in years.

Ultimately her best finish in the ‘500 in seven starts was third place in 2009, behind Helio Castroneves and the late Dan Wheldon.

She won at Motegi, 2008, for her first and only win in IndyCar.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – MAY 29: Danica Patrick, driver of the #7 Team GoDaddy Dallara Honda, makes a pit stop during the IZOD IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 Mile Race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 29, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

A visibly emotional Patrick announced this was the end of her full-time driving career to kick off the press conference, but switched to her future plans once she got through the opening remarks.

Patrick “never thought” she’d do the Indianapolis 500 again but when tossing around future ideas, the concept of running both Daytona and Indianapolis came up.

“I never thought I would do it. I always thought never, but I never said never. Here I am,” she said.

“Out of my mouth came, ‘What about Indy?’ That was really the first sort of idea that got me excited. Let’s do it. I called Haley (Moore, longtime PR rep). What did I just say I would do? She said, ‘Hell yes that’s a good idea.’

“I’m still surprised.”

Patrick will need to participate in the Indianapolis 500 refresher program for drivers that aren’t full-time drivers, so that will provide her a couple hours additional track time before practice opens to the full field in mid-May.

The new 2018 Dallara universal body kit comes into being this year too, and Patrick thinks she has improved as a driver over the last six seasons to be able to come back.

“(Going) 240… it’ll be no problem,” she deadpanned. “It’ll take a bit of adjusting. It’s different for sure. But I think I’m a better driver now. It’ll take a bit of acclimating. Yeah, I would like to get in a car before I get to Indy.”

Patrick said running the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500 “could” occur with her same teams she last ran with full-time, Stewart-Haas Racing and Andretti Autosport, respectively. But her options remain open for both.