IndyCar

Matt Damon narrates new IndyCar campaign to highlight series’ stars

Leave a comment

IndyCar unveiled a new campaign to showcase its stars Thursday, focusing on the speed and inherent danger of the NTT Series.

Using the branding “A Different Breed,” the lead video highlights Josef Newgarden, Scott Dixon, Alexander Rossi, Pato O’Ward, Colton Herta and Simon Pagenaud.

Against a backdrop of race highlights and driver closeups, narrator Matt Damon (who waved the green flag for last year’s Indianapolis 500 with Christian Bale) says, “Not everyone can do 240 (mph) 2 inches from the ground. From your opponent. From failure. Not everyone wants to wrestle a 1,500-pound animal with no power steering with 5 Gs on the neck and go toe to toe with 20 other daredevils.”

SJ Luedtke, the vice president of marketing for IndyCar, said the goal is to showcase the “audacious athleticism” of its drivers.

“We want to put a definitive stake in the ground on what makes IndyCar unique in the motorsports landscape and the greater sports landscape,” Luedtke told NBCSports.com. “It’s our athletes. We are a sport. We believe it takes a really unique person to grapple with all of that and compete against the most skilled athletes in the world. It takes a different breed of person to do what our guys and gals do.”

The campaign, which was created with Chicago-based agency Schafer Condon Carter, will feature black and white still photography as a contrast to typical branding by IndyCar teams and sponsors. “It helps them look more heroic,” Luedtke said.

The campaign will feature multiple drivers in each spot (another departure from previous series branding that focused on individuals) and highlight its range of age and experience from Dixon, the 39-year-old five-time champion, to Herta, a 19-year-old who became the youngest winner in IndyCar history last year, and O’Ward, a 20-year-old upstart.

“It’s quite different from where we’ve been,’ Luedtke said. “We really want to lean into being a more youthful brand and telling the story of there’s a risk involved. Our competition team continues to make the sport safer and safer, but it is a piece of what differentiates us and our athletes from any other athletes, especially in mainstream sports.”

In another change from past campaigns that featured a seasonlong image or commercial, Luedtke said the promotion will be updated throughout the season depending on relevant developments and storylines.

“This is Chapter 1 to kick off our season,” Luedtke said. “That image is meant to change based on the story we’re trying to tell. Going into the month of May, we may have a whole different group of guys we’re highlighting in our print ads and be cutting another video to tell a different story. We’ll continue to do that iteratively over the course of the season.”

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

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
IMSA
Leave a comment

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.”