One of the nuggets within the Indianapolis Motor Speedway morning release about 2017 ticket sales is that the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis will in 2017 no longer be the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis.
Instead, with Angie’s List two-year contract having expired, the race will be rebranded as the IndyCar Grand Prix with the potential a new title sponsor could emerge if one feels compelled to step up financially. A track spokesperson confirmed the news to NBC Sports, and said this could better position this race locally within the market.
The news isn’t entirely surprising given the Indianapolis-based tech company’s recent financials. Per the Indianapolis Star, the company has missed earning expectations, is losing business and has laid off at least 150 people within the last several months.
Calling the race the IndyCar Grand Prix, in the interim, does provide a better line of clarity as to the IMS road course race for the Verizon IndyCar Series as opposed to the clunky Grand Prix of Indianapolis moniker which held the title for the first three years.
However, the interest in the event has waned from the first year. Crowds declined steadily from 2014 to 2015, before this year had a seemingly more significant drop, owing in large part to brutally cold temperatures.
The event doesn’t necessarily need a title sponsor to succeed, but having one does help both the IMS and INDYCAR bottom lines – which are essentially the same pot under the Hulman Motorsports umbrella of Hulman & Co.
So, it will be interesting to see if another company steps up as a title sponsor of the one IndyCar race at IMS where a title sponsor can be had… since the Indianapolis 500, which is technically the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, has a presenting sponsor only.
We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.
And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.
After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.
In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.
Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.
“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.
“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.
“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”
Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.
“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”
Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.