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Rank Driver Points
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32 Townsend Bell 22
33 Pippa Mann 21
34 Martin Plowman 18
35 Buddy Lazier 11
36 Franck Montagny 8
Highlights from Day 1 of IndyCar State of the Union

Being Held in Indianapolis
Monday, February 13, 2012

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IndyCar is holding a two day State of the Series event in Indianapolis with all teams, drivers, media in attendance.  Here are some of the highlights:

IndyCar will have an additional network-television race, officials announced on Monday, from 5 the last few years to 6. IndyCar's season will start on ABC on March 25, on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. The other ABC races will be the Indianapolis 500 (May 27), the Belle Isle race in Detroit (June 3), the revived race in Milwaukee (June 16), the Toronto street race (July 8) and the Aug. 5 race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

IndyCar's other 11 races will be on the rebranded NBC Sports Network, formerly known as Versus.  More on that below.

A presentation was made from Twitter rep who talked about how Twitter should be used extensively to connect with their fans.  It enables team or drivers to connect with their fans without having to put out a press release or get an article written.  As AR1.com has said many times, we are now in a global marketplace, and that is even more true with social media like Twitter and Facebook.  Twitter has a 70% global reach and 30 percent is domestic.  Twitter works on any mobile phone, not just PDAs.  Fans want to hear from the athletes.  It is so important for the drivers to connect directly with fans.  TV is now doing a lot of tweets during their broadcasts.  Drivers can  using twitter to remind fans about a race on TV to try and drive TV ratings up.  He recommended drivers let fans know about the normal things they do as a person, normal everyday things that fans do as well, without giving out too much of their personal life.

IFM made a presentation on the marketing research they have done for IndyCar.  65 percent male audience.  Average income $26K to $50Krange.  Average HH income $62K, but in Brazil it is $102K.  Average IndyCar fan is 125% of average household income.  Relatively affluent fan base like most open wheel series worldwide.  Fans desire more road and street courses.  Lifestyle activities around events is very important to the younger fan.  IndyCar had 222 million total cumulative viewers in 2010, and that increased to 460 million viewers in 2011, up 107 percent.  Television news reach about IndyCar increased from 105 million in 2010 to 415 million in 2011, a 295 percent increase.  Total print and Internet articles up 37 percent.  Total print and Internet impressions up 29%.

He predicted that by 2015 global sponsor money will exceed ticket sales money.  Sponsors are claiming that they do not have enough research to determine their return on investment.  IndyCar needs to help their partners with getting this data.

New Verizon app (really the league's app) is coming out that will add live telemetry, team and driver data, communications, live and taped video and a lot more.  Fans can customize app to the drivers they like.  Will now also have tablet app in addition to phone app and it will work on Apple devices as well as Android.

Merchandise partner LIDS Sports Group talked about their program.  They run stores for Yankees, Cubs, Auburn and many other college teams, NASCAR Hall of Fame, etc.  Plan to have more selling points at tracks (booths, etc).  Will use sales associates from all their franchises and bring them into the track to help.  They want to add more drivers this year.  Can turn new product around in two or three days, depending on what a team wants.  Wider assortment of apparel, new materials.  Will also do novelties like pennants, cup holders, etc.  They want to bring driver and cars out to other stores they have in the market.

Next up was NBC Sports Network part of ComcastNBC.  NBC Sports are great storytellers.  That is what connects with fans.  Fans want stories to be believable. Their goal is to make big events bigger, and IndyCar bigger.  NBC's primary goal is to grow IndyCar, because ultimately that helps them.  Will try to mention every car at least once during the race.  Big prerace show before each race is planned.  Will have a IndyCar 36 program that will showcase a driver and team. They will spend 36 hours with team and drivers leading up to the race.  Bob Costas and Dan Patrick will be  on NBC Sports a lot and that will help the platform.  Bob Costas will do studio and town hall on IndyCar.  Will also have round table talk shows.  Same on-air talent as last year with one addition - Townsend Bell will be added on pit road. NBC Sports Network is in 76 million households to start and will use muscle to push the channel to a higher level with the distribution channels.  May use drivers on other NBC platforms like NBC itself.  Will use strategies like exclusive content for Olympics so people begin to learn about the new channel.  They want and need to drive viewers from one platform to another.

More later.....

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