INDYCAR Entertainment Rolling Out Hits in Hollywood
In six short months, INDYCAR Entertainment's enterprises have led to a surge in exposure in the media and entertainment industries for the IZOD IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Santa Monica, Calif.-based INDYCAR Entertainment, which represents the sanctioning body and the Speedway, has been involved in producing domestic and international programming as well as generating exposure for its star competitors. Most recently is a deal with 3net, the joint venture 24/7 3D network from Sony, Discovery and IMAX.
In autumn, 3net will premiere "On the Inside Line: The Indy 500," an all-access pass to the events and personalities of the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500. The program includes 3D coverage of drivers' last-minute preparations and team meetings, plus the stirring pre-race ceremonies. The speed and excitement of Pole Day and Carb Day are complemented by the drama of Bump Day as the 33-car field is set. IZOD IndyCar Series drivers Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, Simona de Silvestro and Will Power are featured.
"We have been fortunate to receive a great deal of interest from the Hollywood community in a very short period of time," said Sarah Nettinga, senior vice president of media and entertainment, INDYCAR. "The 3net deal is a testament to the excitement many in the community feel about INDYCAR. And I'm equally excited about the quality of programming on our development slate. We're looking forward to making several other announcements before the end of the year regarding our progress in the programming and entertainment arena."
The interest in INDYCAR programming overseas also has momentum, with deals involving Motorsports TV (France) and with RAI ITALY. Motorsports TV will broadcast "Crashes and Conflicts" and "Top 10 best finishes." RAI ITALY's programming is based on a DVD showcasing Alex Zanardi's racing career. "A Modo Mio – My Way" is being delivered to broadcast in two weeks.
"My U.S. racing experience has been always in my heart," said Zanardi. "I'm very thankful to INDYCAR Entertainment for its huge support, pulling out all of the footage from my races and my victories. They made true my dream -- to tell my story in a DVD."
Earlier this year, INDYCAR Entertainment worked with the top-rated FOX show "Hell's Kitchen" during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach race weekend for an episode that highlights the show's winning teams taking a ride in a specially-designed IZOD IndyCar Series two-seater race car and meeting several drivers. It will air in August.
FUEL TV's "Daily Habit," which showcases the hottest celebrities, action sports athletes and cutting-edge musical entertainment, also visited the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, producing a segment with driver Will Power that aired in May.
The 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500 also generated projects with SPEED's "Car Crazy;" the network's new program, "The Car Show" hosted by Adam Carolla; Discovery Education's "Holiday Facts & Fun: Memorial Day;" and ESPN's "Sports Science."
"Over the last 100 years many movies have been made about or involved the Indianapolis 500 and I am pleased that there is significant interest in our facility and our event as we step into the next 100 years of IndyCar racing," said Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation president and CEO Jeff Belskus. "As the world's largest single day sporting event, we feel that we have many compelling stories to tell and I am pleased with our renewed relationship in Hollywood and the conversations we have had with potential partners interested in telling those stories."
In addition to programming opportunities, INDYCAR Entertainment has partnered with the House of Blues and Live Nation to create promotional tie-ins with musical groups such as Hinder, which will perform at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 30.
INDYCAR Entertainment and key partners have revealed celebrity interest in the sport, too. Gordon Ramsay, celebrity chef and producer of "Hell's Kitchen," was grand marshal of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, and Patrick Warburton ("Rules of Engagement") attended the race. A celebrity contingent at the Indianapolis 500 included Jeffrey Donovan ("Burn Notice"), Jillian Michaels ("Biggest Loser"), Omar Miller ("CSI: Miami"), Zach Levi ("Chuck") and Rodger Cross ("24"). Film star Dan Aykroyd, who is currently in production on "Ghostbusters 3," served as grand marshal of the Honda Indy Toronto on July 10.
INDYCAR Entertainment's upcoming ventures include placements in the TV shows "Nerve Center" and "The Link" -- both of which air on National Geographic -- and in programs representing international networks, FUJI TV (Japan), Cartoon Network (UK), TV3 (New Zealand) and Canal+ (Spain).
"Our reason for establishing INDYCAR Entertainment was to grow the sport and invest in relationships in the entertainment industry that would help us bring the excitement of INDYCAR racing to the masses," said INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard. "The response has been extremely positive. We've closed deals on some exciting new projects and expect more in the near future. While anticipated, the rapid growth and interest in this side of our business is very rewarding."