Report: Verizon close to deal to become IndyCar title sponsor

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The Sports Business Journal is reporting that Verizon and IndyCar are close to a deal that would see the telecommunications giant be named IndyCar’s title sponsor.

Per sources who spoke to the SBJ, Verizon would commit to spend approximately $10M a year in rights, activation and media. The length of the deal would be 10 years, valued at $100M.

Quite honestly, the move would make sense on so many levels that to my occasionally skeptical eye, I wasn’t sure a deal like this could actually happen. Because in theory, back in September when news of IZOD’s departure was confirmed, I thought a Verizon title sponsorship would be simply too good to be true.

If it happens, Verizon’s activation will be the key to the partnership, between retail stores and ad promotion and other outlets where they can promote.

They can promote a “speed” aspect – both in terms of its actual 4G LTE service and Internet speed – and with the comparison of IndyCar’s top speeds (230mph-plus) versus NASCAR’s (200mph-plus), with their title sponsor still Sprint.

For five years, Verizon has been among the most active in the motorsports sponsorship business with Roger Penske’s organization. It entered with Will Power on a part-time deal in 2009, before it became a full-time sponsor in 2010.

In 2013, Verizon signage was visible on all rear wheel guards in the field, and Verizon has also stepped up to sponsor the pole award – now officially known as the Verizon P1 Award.

This year, Verizon’s presence on cars will not only be for a full-season for Power, but for eight races on Juan Pablo Montoya’s No. 2 car and at all three cars at the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis (Power, JPM and Helio Castroneves) May 10.

The company works with Indianapolis-based Just Marketing International, JMI for short, on its motorsports sponsorships.

Porsche pulls GTLM cars from Mid-Ohio because of COVID-19 positives

Porsche Mid-Ohio COVID-19
David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Porsche will skip Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race with its two GTLM cars at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course after three positive COVID-19 tests were confirmed during the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

That resulted in Porsche choosing to pull out of the Nurburgring 24 Hour endurance race in Germany, electing to avoid sending any team members as a precautionary measure.

Porsche Motorsport announced Tuesday that its COVID-19 decision also would apply at Mid-Ohio to its No. 911 and No. 12 teams.

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Three of Porsche’s four IMSA GTLM drivers — Laurens Vanthoor, Frederic Makowiecki and Nick Tandy — also were racing in Le Mans. The trio has remained isolated in Europe and won’t be allowed to travel.

“Based on yesterday’s decision that no employee or racing driver of our Le Mans team will participate in the Nürburgring 24 Hours, we have today decided that this ruling will also apply to the upcoming IWSC race in Mid-Ohio,” Fritz Enzinger, vice president for Porsche Motorsport, said in a release. “This means that Laurens, Nick and Fred will not be traveling to the USA.

“This is very regrettable, but we would like to emphasize that in this case as well the health of all those concerned is the prime focus of the decisions we have taken.”

The decision also affects Earl Bamber, who teamed with Vanthoor to win the GTLM championship last year in the No. 912.

Porsche said its GTLM Porsche 911 RSR-19 entries will return for the Oct. 10 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

That will reduce the GTLM class to four cars — two Corvettes and two BMWs — this weekend at Mid-Ohio, in what could be somewhat of a 2021 preview. Porsche Motorsport announced earlier this year that it will leave IMSA after the 2020 season because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.