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IndyCar eyes name change for title sponsor UPDATE #8 This SPEEDTV article by Robin Miller says the IRL is down to a final two for title sponsorship of the series - Subway and CitiFinancial.

08/09/08 After signing a new television deal with cable channel Versus, Indy Racing League officials are still confident they can ink a title sponsor by year’s end.  Sources close to negotiations said there are five finalists, with Subway restaurant chain being the frontrunner. Kodak also is a candidate and league sources confirmed William Rast, a clothing maker known for its jeans, is another finalist. The other two finalists are technology companies, but league sources wouldn’t say who they were.

“We’re still bullish,” said Zak Brown, president of Just Marketing International, which was hired by the IRL to help find a title sponsor. “I’m still as optimistic as ever we can get this deal done. In fact, I’m more optimistic.”

A big part of the deal, said sources close to negotiations, is the title sponsor’s commitment to make a multi-million dollar ad buy with the new TV partner. Current league sponsors were surprised by the announcement that Versus would air at least 13 of the IRL’s races starting next year.

“The way the league can alleviate the fears is to sit down with all their partners; the manufacturers, teams, sponsors and potential sponsors and lay everything out,” said Doug Boles, a former IRL team co-owner who now works for Atlanta-based Ignition Inc., which represents such companies as Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines in marketing deals. “Their challenge is to show us how this makes sense and to demonstrate a clear plan for growth.” IBJ.com

08/07/08 Thursday's TV announcement is regarding the IRL's new TV package, not about the title sponsor.

08/06/08 The IRL has called a media conference for Thursday to make a major announcement.  Tony George and other IRL executives will be on hand for the announcement, speculated to be Subway as the new title sponsor.

07/21/08 This Indianapolis Business Journal article pretty much says the same thing as our previous update.

07/15/08 The Indy Racing League, which has been without a title sponsor on its headline IndyCar Series since 2002, has been in discussions with at least two prospective sponsors, Kodak and Subway, industry sources say, and a third candidate has emerged in the past month. The IndyCar title is thought to go for the mid- to-high seven figures annually.

Kodak serves as an associate sponsor at Penske Racing for both its NASCAR and IndyCar teams. Its motorsports sponsorships, including an official status deal with NASCAR, expire at the end of this season, and the company has said it is working with Octagon to evaluate its future course.

Subway, whose motorsports ties are with Tony Stewart on the NASCAR side, had its marketing officials at the Indianapolis 500 and talks have progressed from there. Just Marketing International, which represents the IRL, also counts Subway as a client. Terry Angstadt, president of the commercial division, and Greg Gruning, vice president of sales, have been spearheading the IRL’s sales efforts along with Just Marketing.  Scenedaily.com

05/23/08 IRL Commercial Division President Terry Angstadt said that as many as 20 companies this weekend will be at the race and "at least one company has said it would like to begin serious negotiations about a naming rights deal immediately after the race." The IRL also is "close to announcing a deal for an exclusive clothing sponsor." Washington Times

The goal is to secure a five-year title sponsorship contract before the end of this year. The officials want a sponsor that "will get excited about building a marketing program of its own around the series -- not just shell out a few million bucks and have a hands-off approach." Likely candidates are technology companies, energy drinks, financial services and fast-foot restaurants," though officials are not naming potential companies. Indy Star

05/06/08 Recall that Gene Simmons said "Indy Racing League" or IRL was not a good name for the series.  Again we are hearing rumors that the name could become the XYZ IndyCar World Series. The world series part sounds better than 'league' and it does underscore the fact that the series races outside the USA.  There are not too many racing entities called 'league.'  Most are referred to as a 'series.'

03/28/08 Today at Homestead Tony George said there are no plans to change the name of the series.  "We feel Indy Car" is the best description of what we are."  "We may add a title sponsor to the series, however."  "Some people liked the name 'PPG Indy Car World Series' name," said George, hinting that 'World Series' could be in the series name when they add a title sponsor to the front, such as 'XYZ Indy Car World Series' as an example.
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