Getty Images

Bobby Rahal reunites with sponsor from 26 years ago in new multi-year deal

Leave a comment

Young race car drivers, take note: never burn bridges with former sponsors. You never know when you may team back up with them again.

Bobby Rahal is the perfect example. Back in 1992, when he earned his third IndyCar championship, Rahal was sponsored by Total S.A., one of the largest oil and lubricant companies in the world.

Fast forward 26 years and Rahal and Total are once again partners, as it was announced Wednesday that the company’s TOTAL QUARTZ brand will become the official lubricant for the No. 15 Indy car that will be driven by Graham Rahal in the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series.

In what is being termed a multi-year deal, TOTAL QUARTZ will serve as an associate sponsor on Graham Rahal’s car for the entire season, and will also serve as primary sponsor for April 15th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

“I am very pleased to welcome Total back to the team after many years,” said Bobby Rahal, co-owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, with David Letterman and Mike Lanigan. “Reuniting with a world class company like Total, that is not only the fourth largest oil and gas company in the world, but one that also has a long and successful history in motorsports globally, is very exciting.

“Renewing the relationship with them after having been together for my championship year in 1992 is a real thrill for me personally given our success. It is an exciting time for the company as they expand in North America. We look forward to helping spread the word and flying the Total colors at Long Beach as the primary sponsor and seeing them on our cars as an associate sponsor for many years to come.”

Total is a major player in motorsports, including partnerships in Formula 1, 24 Hours of Le Mans, World Rally Championship, and Dakar Rally, among others. It’s also the official lubricant partner of Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and also the Red Bowl Global Rallycross series.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan was looking for additional sponsorship for this season for his son’s car, while Total was looking to partner with an IndyCar team. Because of Bobby Rahal’s relationship, once both sides started talking, it was a quick route to sealing a new deal.

“We looked to them, they looked to us,” Bobby Rahal said. “Consequently, the conversation was very lively, very passionate.

“Clearly having had a previous relationship didn’t hurt, that we had so much success before. I think clearly the success of the team over the last several years was a draw.

“Total has a great reputation in motorsports in particular, many Formula One championships, World Rally championships, Le Mans victories.

“For us Total represented in particular the potential of a real technical advantage that we might be able to fashion with them in terms of lubricants and what have you. It just seemed like a good fit as we approached it from both ends.”

Here are the starting times for 2020 NTT IndyCar Series action on NBC and NBCSN

INDYCAR Photo
Leave a comment

Another important tidbit for NTT IndyCar Series fans is out as INDYCAR and NBC announced starting times for the 2020 season. The full television schedule is also included.

There are different starting times at four races in 2020 from 2019. Those include the March 15 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the AutoNation INDYCAR Challenge at Circuit of the Americas on April 26, a later starting time for the Saturday night race at Iowa Speedway on July 18 on NBCSN

INDYCAR released the green flag times today for the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season that features starting time shifts at four races – St. Petersburg, Circuit of The Americas, Iowa and Mid-Ohio – and the anticipated evening return to Richmond Raceway.

Those four returning races represent the only significant green flag start time changes from a year ago in the 17-race 2020 NTT IndyCar Series schedule, beginning with the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg scheduled for Sunday, March 15.

The August 16 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio will be moved to an earlier starting time and will be broadcast on NBC. Previously, the race was scheduled for 4:05 p.m., but has been changed to a 12:45 p.m. Eastern Time green flag.

INDYCAR’s return to Richmond Raceway on Saturday, June 27 will begin at 8:15 p.m. ET. That is the only new event on the schedule.

Detailed broadcast information for the entire season will be announced at a later date.

Here are the notable changes to the starting times on the schedule:

The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which began at 1:40 p.m. ET this past season, will now have a 3:30 p.m. green flag. The race on the downtown streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., will be celebrating its 10thanniversary as the series’ season opener and be televised on NBC Sports Network.

The AutoNation INDYCAR Challenge at Circuit of The Americas on Sunday, April 26, will have a similar shift, moving from a 1:43 p.m. ET green flag this past season to 4:10 p.m. (3:10 p.m. local) in 2020. The permanent road course in Austin, Texas, will play host to the fourth race of the season and be broadcast on NBCSN.

The Iowa 300 at Iowa Speedway, set for Saturday, July 18, on NBCSN, will be better accommodated for an evening race under the lights with the green flag moving from 7:15 p.m. ET to 9 p.m. (8 p.m. local).

“The return of a night race for INDYCAR at Iowa Speedway is exciting news for our race fans, sponsors, and the entire region,” Iowa Speedway President David Hyatt said. “The cars look great under the lights, and the competition should be even more fierce given what should be cooler conditions. Our track provides some of the best racing you’ll see anywhere, which will be good for attendance. This will be a can’t-miss weekend for all race fans.”

The return to a true night race at Iowa was the result of fans requesting it. The race will begin at 8:00 p.m. CT on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network. And for fans and drivers, it is nostalgic, hearkening back to the first race many of them experienced … a night race on a short track.

The series hasn’t held a race that began after dusk at Iowa Speedway since 2015, and drivers and fans are welcoming it. Not only does it look more vibrant — and create sparks as cars bottom out — it also makes for better racing. Tires grip better when the track is cooler. Fans also avoid sweltering conditions during summer afternoons.

The Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Sunday, Aug. 16, will be the only race among the four that moves to an earlier start time. The race, which had a 4:05 p.m. ET start this past season, will shift to a 12:45 p.m. green flag in 2020 and be televised on NBC.

The NTT IndyCar Series heads to Richmond Raceway – the only new addition on the 2020 schedule – for the 11th race of the season on Saturday, June 27. The field will take the green flag at 8:15 ET for the start of the first Indy car race at the .75-mile oval since 2009. The race will be broadcast on NBCSN.