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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Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”