Happy Birthday to reigning IndyCar champion Will Power


A day after one of IndyCar’s greatest champions, Mario Andretti, celebrated his birthday, IndyCar’s current champion, Will Power, is doing the same this Sunday.

The pride of Toowoomba, Australia is now 34 years old and also less than a month away from starting his title defense after finally breaking through last Labor Day weekend at Auto Club Speedway in California.

Perseverance is the word that comes to mind to describe Power’s career so far. He was one of many drivers with uncertain futures following the North American open-wheel merger of 2008, but while his Champ Car team did not make the jump to IndyCar (Indy Racing League), Power himself did.

Despite having to get used to new equipment and tracks, Power did enough in 2008 (including a win in Champ Car’s finale at Long Beach) to earn an opportunity from Team Penske the next year to fill-in for Helio Castroneves while the latter dealt with federal tax evasion charges.

Power finished sixth in the 2009 opener at St. Petersburg in Castroneves’ No. 3 car. Castroneves came back for the next race in Long Beach after being acquitted, but Power was not pushed aside. He would make six starts for Penske that season, and rewarded Roger Penske’s faith in him with a win in Edmonton.

His 2009 campaign ended prematurely with a nasty practice crash at Sonoma that fractured two vertebrae and concussed him. But that did not keep Penske from awarding him a full-time program from 2010 onward.

You probably know the rest of the story from here. Power endured three consecutive championship near-misses from 2010-2012, but established himself as part of IndyCar’s core group of drivers. And in 2014, Power at last achieved his dream of becoming a champion, earning three wins and seven podiums along the way.

This year, Power takes the champion’s No. 1 with him into a season where his biggest competition could come from his own team. In addition to the aforementioned Castroneves, there’s a resurgent Juan Pablo Montoya and now, a stellar newcomer to the Penske stable in Simon Pagenaud.

But Power is ready for the challenge, wherever and whoever it comes from.

“[The championship was] something I worked really hard for the last 15 years,” Power said recently at IndyCar Media Day. “To finally get it, get the monkey off the back, yeah, it’s given me more motivation this year. I don’t have to worry about that. I know I can do it.”

We wish Power a Happy Birthday today.

NTT re-signs as IndyCar title sponsor in multiyear deal starting with the 2024 season

James Black/Penske Entertainment

The IndyCar Series has re-signed NTT as its title sponsor in a multiyear agreement starting in 2024.

NTT, a global information technology and communications company based in Japan, became the series’ title sponsor before the 2019 season after starting as a sponsor of the No. 10 Dallara-Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing.

NTT Data (a subsidiary of parent company Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp.) will remain the official technology partner of IndyCar, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indy 500 and the NASCAR Brickyard weekend.

With the extension, an IndyCar spokesman said NTT would become the second-longest title sponsor in series history. The longest title sponsor was PPG from 1980-97 (under the CART sanction of the Champ Car Series).

NTT replaced Verizon, which was IndyCar’s title sponsor from 2014-18 after IZOD from 2010-13.

“NTT is an excellent partner across our enterprise with strong expertise and a deep commitment to our sport,” Penske Corp. chairman and IndyCar owner Roger Penske said in a release. “From Smart Venue technology at the Racing Capital of the World to the reimagined Series mobile application, NTT is transforming the fan experience in new and innovative ways. We look forward to a bright future together.”

NTT has used artificial intelligence-enabled optical detection technology at IMS to provide information to the track’s operations and security teams, helping improve fan traffic flow and safety, the track said.

“IndyCar is a great partner for NTT Data because of our shared commitment to driving innovation, increasing sustainability and delivering amazing experiences,” NTT Data CEO Kaz Nishihata said in a release. “We also appreciate how IndyCar is so diverse, with drivers from 15 different countries, and races that range from short ovals and superspeedways to road and street courses. It’s both an incredible sport and a wonderful example for our world.”

NTT also has been instrumental in helping redesign the IndyCar app and providing more race and driver data for use in NBC Sports’ broadcasts by utilizing 140 data points from every car in the field.

“NTT is fully invested in the development and growth of our sport and has already established a terrific track record in our industry with problem-solving capabilities and access to top talent and tools,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said.

Said NTT Data Services CEO Bob Pryor: “We’re thrilled to continue our collaborations that enhance and expand the fan experience for motorsports and serve as proof points for data analytics, AI, and other innovative digital technologies. For more than a century, this racing series has pioneered innovations making driving safer for everyone, and by continuing this relationship, we will accelerate the pace of innovations and new technologies, particularly related to sustainability that ultimately can benefit organizations, communities and individuals around the world.”

Starting as a Japanese telephone company, NTT grew into a $100 billion-plus tech services giant with U.S. operations based in Plano, Texas.