IndyCar: Partnership with Apex-Brasil was not renewed

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One of IndyCar’s more prominent partners in recent years is going in a new direction.

Apex-Brasil, the Brazilian Trade and Investments Promotion Agency, had been partners with IndyCar since 2008 and used the sport to help promote the country’s foreign trade and investment opportunities.

But IndyCar has confirmed that Apex did not renew its contract with IndyCar at the end of 2014, choosing to steer its funding to other areas instead. Their most recent extension was announced on the day of the 2012 Indy 500.

However, Hulman Motorsports’ chief revenue officer, Jay Frye, said in comments to the Indianapolis Star’s Curt Cavin that talks are still ongoing with Apex about a possible return “if not for 2015, then for 2016.”

In the meantime, Frye says that four signed partnership deals will be announced in the next few weeks.

“There is a lot in the pipeline, some really good things coming,” Frye said. “There’s a lot of very good activity.”

At the start of its deal with IndyCar, Apex became the series’ official ethanol supplier. But soon after, the company expanded into promoting other Brazilian products. For example, Brazilian coffee was pushed in this 30-second spot, which was a common sight on IndyCar TV broadcasts during the 2010 season:

Apex also served as a personal sponsor for one of the sport’s top Brazilian stars, 2013 Indy 500 champ Tony Kanaan of Chip Ganassi Racing.

The news of Apex’s departure comes just weeks after the cancellation of IndyCar’s original 2015 season opener on March 8 in the Brazilian capital of Brasilia.

The series will instead start its season on March 29 in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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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.”