Indianapolis to once again ring in New Years with IndyCar ‘descent’

(Photo courtesy

IndyCar will ring in the New Year for the second straight year with a ceremonial drop of one of its open-wheel cars late Thursday in downtown Indianapolis.

But instead of calling it a drop, IndyCar officials have rechristened the ceremony as an “IndyCar descent.”

“No one wants to drop an IndyCar,” Bob Schultz, Downtown Indy’s Senior Vice President of Marketing and Events, told the Indianapolis Star. “It’s just too precious.”

Not to mention expensive.

So, instead, the two-seat open-wheel racer will descend in downtown Indianapolis, similar to the way the Waterford crystal ball descends in Times Square in New York City.

By the time the IndyCar reaches the ground, those attending the celebration will be yelling “Happy New Year” and hugging, kissing and cheering in the new year.

This year’s “descent” will have extra special meaning as it will be the official kickoff to the celebration of what’s to come nearly six months later: the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The event begins Thursday night at 8 pm ET on Georgia Street in downtown Indy and will include a number of musical performances by popular local bands.

The car will begin its descent at 11:59 pm ET, followed by a fireworks display.

A test run of the descent took place Tuesday and everything went off without a hitch.

“It was completely safe last year, but now the aesthetics have been improved to contribute to an incredible midnight experience,” Schultz said.

Weather last year was below zero; this year temperatures are expected to be higher. As a result, organizers are anticipating larger crowds, as well.

“It’s where the people are going to be,” Schultz said. “So if you want to be in the heart of that the energy of our downtown, there is no greater time than New Years Eve this year.”

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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.