Phoenix Raceway to become ISM Raceway in 2018

Getty Images
0 Comments

The track now known as Phoenix Raceway, formerly known as Phoenix International Raceway and colloquially referred to as “PIR,” will in 2018 be known as ISM Raceway following Phoenix Raceway selling the naming rights to ISM Connect, a smart venue technology company.

ISM Connect, LLC is listed with a Randolph, N.J. base and has ramped up its motorsport involvement in recent weeks, including being the naming sponsor of Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon.

News that ISM Connect would take over Phoenix’s naming rights was first reported by The Arizona Republic, via AZCentralSports.com, on Monday.

The full Phoenix Raceway release is below. The track is set to host both NASCAR and the Verizon IndyCar Series once again in 2018, with the IndyCar race in April the last scheduled race for its current track configuration before the completion of its renovation project, which is sponsored by DC Solar. The IndyCar race next year is the third in its initial three-year contract since returning in 2016.

Phoenix Raceway and ISM Connect, a pioneer in smart venue technology, today announced a multi-year partnership that includes naming rights for the Raceway’s modernized venue as well as the installation of a groundbreaking digital fan engagement experience. Beginning in 2018, the venue will be known as ISM Raceway.

ISM’s 360° Connect network will provide the modernized venue with advanced, robust technology and data capabilities to create meaningful connections between fans, partners and the venue itself. This will be done through the use of digital display screens, interactive experiences, social media integrations and a mobile app that will give fans access to unique content, in-seat ordering, and more.

“We’re focused on building a world-class facility and the partnership with ISM will further enhance our technology capabilities and create opportunities to better engage with fans,” said Phoenix Raceway President Bryan R. Sperber. “ISM Raceway will serve as a premier motorsports and entertainment destination for generations to come.”

The ISM Connect network will power various fan activations and experiences throughout the venue, including the new infield Fan Zone, new pedestrian tunnel connecting the infield to the new seating areas and one of the two new Canyons – the immersive and interactive entrances. As part of the partnership, ISM Connect will also receive naming rights for one of the Canyons – providing over 20,000 square feet of fan engagement and brand activation that vertically spans multiple concourse levels.

“This partnership underscores our commitment to strengthening relationships and communication between venues, fans, partners and brands through innovative digital solutions,” said ISM Connect Vice President of Operations Jeff Hutchins. “ISM Raceway, powered by ISM Connect’s digital engagement network, will revolutionize how large venues connect every piece of their technology in order to gather and analyze data with the goal of improving the fan experience.”

The partnership with Phoenix Raceway further reinforces ISM Connect’s significant presence in motorsports as the company has brought ISM Vision Powered by BoldVu®, the World’s Largest 360° Digital Engagement Venue Network, to the NASCAR experience across the country.

Cadillac, Acura battle for top speed as cars back on track for Rolex 24 at Daytona practice

0 Comments

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The new hybrid prototypes of Cadillac and Acura battled atop the speed chart as practice resumed Thursday for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Chip Ganassi Racing driver Richard Westbrook was fastest Thursday afternoon in the No. 02 Cadillac V-LMDh with a 1-minute, 35.185-second lap around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway.

That pace topped Ricky Taylor’s 1:35.366 lap that topped the Thursday morning session that marked the first time the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was back on track since qualifying Sunday afternoon that concluded the four-day Roar Before The Rolex 24 test.

In a final session Thursday night, Matt Campbell was fastest (1:35.802) in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsports Porsche 963 but still was off the times set by Westbrook and Taylor.

Punctuated by Tom Blomqvist’s pole position for defending race winner Meyer Shank Racing, the Acura ARX-06s had been fastest for much of the Roar and led four consecutive practice sessions.

DETAILS FOR THE 61ST ROLEX 24How to watch, entry lists, schedules for the IMSA season opener

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN GTPRolex 24 at Daytona kicks off new golden era for sports cars

But the times have been extremely tight in the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) category that has brought hybrid engines to IMSA’s premier class. Only 0.9 seconds separated the nine LMDh cars in GTP in qualifying, and though the spread slightly widened to 1.378 seconds in Thursday’s practices with teams on varying strategies and preparation, Westbrook still pooh-poohed the importance of speeds.

“It’s always nice to be at the top, but I don’t think it means too much or read too much into it” Westbrook said. “Big fuel tanks in the GTP class this year, so you have no idea what fuel levels people are running. We had a good run, and the car is really enjoyable to drive now. I definitely wasn’t saying that a month ago.

“It really does feel good now. We are working on performance and definitely unlocking some potential, and it just gives us more confidence going into the race. It’s going to be super tight. Everyone’s got the same power, everyone has the same downforce, everyone has the same drag levels and let’s just go race.”

Because teams have put such a premium on reliability, handling mostly has suffered in the GTPs, but Westbrook said the tide had turned Thursday.

“These cars are so competitive, and you were just running it for the sake of running it in the beginning, and there’s so much going on, you don’t really have time to work on performance,” he said. “A lot of emphasis was on durability in the beginning, and rightly so, but now finally we can work on performance, and that’s the same for other manufacturers as well. But we’re worrying about ourselves and improving every run, and I think everybody’s pretty happy with their Cadillac right now.”

Mike Shank, co-owner of Blomqvist’s No. 60 on the pole, said his team still was facing reliability problems despite its speed.

“We address them literally every hour,” Shank said. “We’re addressing some little thing we’re doing better to try to make it last. And also we’re talking about how we race the race, which will be different from years past.

“Just think about every system in the car, I’m not going to say which ones we’re working on, but there are systems in the car that ORECA and HPD are continually trying to improve. By the way, sometimes we put them on the car and take them off before it even goes out on the track because something didn’t work with electronics. There’s so much programming. So many departments have to talk to each other. That bridge gets broken from a code not being totally correct, and the car won’t run. Or the power steering turns off.”

Former Rolex 24 winner Renger van der Zande of Ganassi said it still is a waiting game until the 24-hour race begins Saturday shortly after 1:30 p.m.

“I think the performance of the car is good,” van der Zande said. “No drama. We’re chipping away on setup step by step and the team is in control. It’s crazy out there what people do on the track at the moment. It’s about staying cool and peak at the right moment, and it’s not the right moment yet for that. We’ll keep digging.”


PRACTICE RESULTS:

Click here for Session I (by class)

Click here for Session II (by class)

Click here for Session III (by class)

Combined speeds