Herbalife Announces Indy 500 Sponsorship
Herbalife (NYSE: HLF), a global nutrition and direct-selling company, announced today that the company will serve as the primary sponsor for the No. 99 Sam Schmidt Motorsports/Chip Ganassi Racing entry in the 2010 edition of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race driven by Herbalife-sponsored athlete Townsend Bell.
Bell, 34, of San Luis Obispo, Calif. comes back to the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” in the bright green HERBALIFE SSM/CGR Dallara Honda open-wheel car after recording a sensational charge at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway in finishing fourth behind the wheel of the Herbalife machine in the 2009 running of the world’s biggest auto race.
Bell, the 2001 Indy Lights champion, started 24th in last year’s event and drove his way through the field to score his highest Indy 500 finish. He also finished tenth at Indy in 2008 and was the fast qualifier on the second day of time trials. Bell will be making his fourth Indy 500 start on Sunday, May 30.
“Teaming up with Townsend again and the strong team of Sam Schmidt Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing gives the Herbalife team a great chance to get to the winner’s circle this year,” said Herbalife Chairman and CEO Michael O. Johnson. “Townsend is a talented driver and a terrific athlete who personifies our message of living an active, healthy life. Millions of Herbalife independent distributors around the world are rooting for him.”
The SSM/CGR connection was established in 2009 when Alex Lloyd drove the No. 99 to a 13th place finish. Sam Schmidt Motorsports has qualified nine entries in the Indy 500 since 2001 with driver Richie Hearn recording a team-high sixth in 2002.
Schmidt drove in three Indy 500 races (1997-1999) before he was injured in a 2000 testing crash in Orlando, Fla. Schmidt began Sam Schmidt Motorsports in 2001.
“Bringing Herbalife on board for this year’s Indy 500 is very exciting for our effort in 2010,” said Schmidt, a three-time Indy Lights champion team owner. “A worldwide nutrition company such as Herbalife gives our SSM/CGR program a strong foundation to prepare a winning machine for Townsend. Again partnering with Chip’s operation puts us in a position to qualify well and race for the ultimate motorsports prize, the Indianapolis 500. We have an excellent team led by Chris Griffis and I am very proud to enter a solid effort for the Indy 500.”
Sam Schmidt Motorsports is the all-time victory leader in the Firestone Indy Lights Championship with 30 race wins and three driver titles.
A special Herbalife Weight-loss Challenge has already been established among the team members throughout the month of May. The winning members in the Herbalife Challenge will receive VIP trips to Los Angeles for a variety of entertainment activities.
“Chip Ganassi Racing enjoys the long-term relationship its had with Sam Schmidt Motorsports as a result of partnering sponsors, driver talent and technical resources over the last several years,” said Mike Hull, managing director of Target Chip Ganassi Racing.” The relationship Sam Schmidt Motorsports has with Herbalife and Townsend Bell furthers that continuity.”
Bell has international racing experience in addition to his North America open-wheel competition. The San Francisco-born driver competed in the 2003 International Formula 3000 series, finishing in the top-ten on six occasions in ten events. His best finish was third at Hungaroring. Later in 2003, Bell tested for the Formula One team, British American Racing, before returning to the IndyCar Series.
“With the announcement of Herbalife as our team’s primary sponsor for the 2010 Indy 500, we have all of the elements to produce a winning effort,” said Bell. “Teaming Herbalife with two championship operations, Sam Schmidt Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing, gives this program a tremendous combination to race for the victory. After last year’s limited schedule at Indy, I am confident about the Herbalife team’s chances when practice runs open on May 15.”
Qualification runs for the 33-driver field will be on May 22-23 with the 2010 running of the Indianapolis 500 is set for 1 p.m. EDT on Sunday, May 30.