|Tsunehisa Okuno - head of global business for NTT|
Mark Miles - IndyCar CEO
Tsunehisa Okuno - Head of Global Business, NTT
Jay Frye - IndyCar President
Chip Ganassi - IndyCar Team Owner
Art St. Cyr - Honda HPD Boss
Jim Campbell - GM U.S. Vice President, Performance Vehicles and Motorsports
Scott Dixon - IndyCar Champion
Tony Kanaan - IndyCar Driver
MARK MILES: Good afternoon, everybody, and thank you so much for joining us for what we believe will go down in the history of IndyCar as a truly red-letter day. No better place for us to make an announcement like this than here in Detroit. Detroit is pivotal to the success of IndyCar and goes back in our history. This is the home of the Chevy Detroit Grand Prix and the only place where we race twice. Our double-header is here. It's the home of legendary owner Roger Penske. It's the home of General Motors and Chevrolet, which are such important partners to us, so perfect sense to be here for this announcement.
It's also great to be here at the auto show. This auto show to us is about the industry, the auto industry and about innovation. When I think about the auto industry and I think about innovation, I think that's a pretty good match with IndyCar. So we're glad to be here.
Later on we'll call up two guys that are so important to us, Jim Campbell and Art St. Cyr, who lead for, in this case, GM and Chevy and Honda, their motorsports engagement, and they are pivotally important partners to us. We want to thank them for being here and for all that they do with the IndyCar Series every year.
Our news today is recognition of the power and global appeal of IndyCar as a global brand, and it's the beginning of a powerful new partnership which will rock the motorsports world. But rather than me announce it, let's see if this video can do a better job.
|Participants pose for a group photo|
KEVIN LEE: We are extremely excited about this, and IndyCar, all of its partners, including NBC, cannot wait to get the 2019 season started for the NTT IndyCar Series. We're ready to race now, and in some ways, we are already racing because preseason testing began yesterday, and about half the field is actually on track right now as we speak at Sebring. So we're excited to welcome NTT to the fastest, most versatile and most exciting form of motorsports on the planet.
We have several guests coming up to join us today to tell us how this deal got done, and we want to start with the man of the hour, please welcome the executive vice president, head of global business from NTT, Tsunehisa Okuno.
TSUNEHISA OKUNO: Nice job.
KEVIN LEE: Mark, we will start with you. This has been hinted at for a long time, but we all know a deal is never done until it's done. Tell us how it all came together.
MARK MILES: I think a few things. One, IndyCar for the past several years has been growing in all measures of fan engagement and I think as a global brand, and so the platform was attractive. I think it goes back to 2012 when Chip Ganassi Racing formed a sponsor relationship with the No. 10 car, and NTT Data is I think the biggest operating company of NTT here in the United States.
We started talking about this possibility not very long ago, near the end of the championship I think in early September, and in no time at all, led by Jay Frye on our team and Mark Sibla, who engaged directly with NTT Data, soon we were invited to Tokyo, and there we had a meeting together which I'll never forget. Takuma Sato, one of our best-known drivers and champions who happens to be a hero in Japan, was with us, and by the end of that discussion, we said, let's get this done, and then we talked about the timing, and we said, well, look, you've got to be on the firesuits and the cars and everything by our first open test, which is coming up in the middle of February. Let's announce it in Detroit. It's the perfect place, and so it got done, and we want to thank you very much, Okuno-San, for your team's work.
KEVIN LEE: Mark, what makes NTT such a great fit for IndyCar?
MARK MILES: I think this relationship is perfect. We are a global brand, and when I think about racing, I think we're international, so you think about the team owners, you think about drivers from all over the world. I'm sure that was part of how NTT saw us. But we see them as a giant technology and communications company. When I think about the future growth of IndyCar, what's more important than developing technology? It drives our racing, our teams. Everybody in the paddock needs data in usable form to improve.
I think about -- we take 50 million data records off the cars in an average two-hour race. To me that's content. With NTT we can make that usable and compelling content for fans that will continue to grow the sport and attract younger fans.
So I just think we have a great fit, and then I think it was important that NTT Data had this history with IndyCar, which will mean that we hit the ground running. We're in seventh gear already.
|Miles welcomes Tsunehisa Ohuno|
Q. Okuno-San, welcome to IndyCar, welcome to Detroit. The entire paddock is very excited about this new relationship. Tell us what this does for your business.
TSUNEHISA OKUNO: Thank you, Kevin. Hello, everybody. My name is Tsunehisa Okuno. Tsunehisa is my first name, and Okuno is my last name. Please call me Okuno-San. It's very common in Japan to call me Okuno-San, or call me Tsunehisa. I think Kevin practiced to pronounce my name very hard, so it's not easy to pronounce.
Every Chinese character has a meaning, and Tsunehisa in Chinese character means "forever," so call me Okuno-San or Tsunehisa or Mr. Forever. I should have talked to you about that beforehand. Sorry about that.
So we are very excited to be here and to be a partner for the IndyCar. The IndyCar racing is getting more popular also in the Japan market mainly thanks to the Japanese driver, Sato Takuma, who won the championship two years ago, the Indy 500. There was a special TV program in Japan, and I clearly remember during the program Mr. Sato, Takuma Sato, impressed us by saying that he saw something very special, very different after he became the champion of Indy 500.
So I personally expect to see something very different through the cooperation with the IndyCar and the other partners, and the entity would like to bring something very exciting to the IndyCar fans.
NTT, our total revenue is more than $100 billion U.S. dollars, and every year we are spending $4 billion for R&D, and NTT Data has a very close relationship with Chip Ganassi, and we are already the technology partner for the Tour de France, for example, the bikes. So we are very excited to be here and to offer many things very exciting, right.
So I hope our relationship with IndyCar and the other partners will last forever. Thank you very much.
KEVIN LEE: Thank you.
We are pleased to be joined by several other guests, including a couple of active legends joining us as drivers. Come on up. We welcome, he's won more races than anyone other than AJ Foyt and Mario Andretti. He's the reigning champion, a five-time IndyCar champion and an Indy 500 champion, Scott Dixon, and the next guy probably gets the loudest ovation every year at the Indianapolis 500, a race he won in 2013, also an IndyCar champ, Tony Kanaan. Thank you.
Scott, I'll start with you, just a very basic question. How does the NTT IndyCar Series sound to you?
SCOTT DIXON: I think it's fantastic. I think with myself and Tony, we've had a great partnership with NTT for many years. Obviously at Chip Ganassi Racing, too. I was lucky enough to win a race for them in 2017 at Road America. But I think with how the two companies are going to work together, I think it's going to be fantastic for branding, pushing it. We have the greatest racing in the world, and we're going to be able to push it together.
But it's the perfect marriage, and looking forward to the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series to kick off.
KEVIN LEE: TK, you have also driven the NTT Data car and you have literally worn their technology. I want you to explain that a little bit and what they're bringing to IndyCar.
|Frye, Rahal and Ganassi|
TONY KANAAN: Yeah, it's such a great pleasure to be here. Especially I've driven their car for three years. There's a reason that I came to Chip when I came to Chip, and in the past I developed this shirt, we call it the heater shirt, but that's just the technology they can bring to the series. I mean, the shirt was something that was amazing when we launched that it could actually read my heartbeat and my heart rate while I was in the car.
A company that spends $4 billion in R&D a year, I think it has a lot to bring to the series. You know, it's a lot of familiar faces. I have good friends at NTT, so I'm really excited for IndyCar. It shows how strong the series is and how good of a job Mark Miles and his team with Jay Frye turned it around, as soon as we had a title sponsor leaving, and in four months to turn this around and have this announcement today, so really excited.
KEVIN LEE: Tony's relationship with NTT continues. He now drives the famous No. 14 for AJ Foyt. Several other guests, we'll bring them all up together. Jay Frye was mentioned, the president of IndyCar. Let's welcome Jay Frye. And also a couple of IndyCar legends, drivers, car owners now. His image is on that iconic Borg-Warner trophy over there, the 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner and he also has won it as a car owner, Bobby Rahal. Chip Ganassi drove in the Indianapolis 500, he's won it as a car owner five times plus 12 IndyCar championships, including last year with Scott Dixon. Chip Ganassi, everyone. And finally, representing IndyCars, two auto manufacturers, let's welcome the President of Honda Performance Development, Art St. Cyr. And Jim Campbell is here, the General Motors U.S. Vice President, Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. We welcome you, and you welcome us to your hometown here of Detroit.
Jay, let's start with you. Speak to the significance from a series standpoint of what this deal does.
JAY FRYE: Well, last year we had a really big announcement with the new car which we think was very successful. Today's announcement is a huge announcement. Obviously this is something that affects the entire paddock from the broadcast partners to the promoters to the teams. We couldn't be more proud to partner with a global brand like NTT. I want to send a big thanks to them for all their hard work.
KEVIN LEE: Bob, you can speak to it from a team perspective, and I don't think anybody has been more invested than you have as a driver; your son drives for your team; Takuma Sato drives for Bob's team; his partner is David Letterman and also Mike Lanigan. What does an announcement and a partnership like this mean to the teams?
BOBBY RAHAL: Well, I think it's a huge announcement obviously for the series, but for those of us within the series, it's great. Very meaningful because obviously it shows the value of the series, and everybody has been working hard to raise that value. The racing is -- I don't think anything is any better anywhere in the world, and so it's nice to have them, NTT, come on board. I mean, it's a huge international company.
This can mean nothing but great things for the series and for all of us involved in the series the same. We're thrilled about the longevity of it because as a team owner now we've got something to really sell, not just this year but in years to come, so I think it's just a home run for all of us within the series.
KEVIN LEE: Chip, I think many of us would thank you for getting this relationship started. You know this group better than anyone. Tell us about the group from NTT.
CHIP GANASSI: Thanks, Kevin. You know, I think what's interesting, I think we're going into our eighth year now with NTT in 2019, and I think what I see is they do business globally with a lot of major, major corporations around the world. They entertain these people at the track and they have good relationships, but after a day at the track I can see a good relationship turn into a great relationship. So I'm excited about them coming on as a series sponsor.
KEVIN LEE: Art, Honda is the reigning IndyCar series champion from a manufacturer perspective. Safe to say you're probably excited to get it started again here coming in 2019?
ART ST. CYR: Yeah, we can't wait. I mean, the IndyCar Series right now is some of the best racing you'll get in the entire world. We have great teams, great drivers, great competitions, sometimes too great a competition. But no, it's really great that we're really happy to be a longtime partner with IndyCar. This will be our 26th year in IndyCar. So it's good for us, and we're looking forward to St. Petersburg, which is going to start here in March.
KEVIN LEE: And Jim, Chevy won the Indianapolis 500 last year. We think of Indianapolis as the racing capital of the world, but this truly is the Motor City, and Detroit is always a perfect spot for an announcement of this magnitude. What's your reaction to this news?
JIM CAMPBELL: Well, this is great news, and I'm so glad that Mark and Jay decided to make this announcement with NTT right here in Detroit. For us, IndyCar is special because our co-founder Louis Chevrolet, him and his brothers, where did they race? They raced at Indy. And so we love the sport. I'm with Art; the racing is spectacular; it's edge of the seat, so exciting, and I have so much respect for these team owners and the drivers and what they do every day. Such talent.
|Ganassi, St. Cyr and Campbell|
I think it's exciting, NTT is going to bring all this technology services expertise, and they're going to help turbocharge our sport. They're going to start I think with the app. They're going to make that app really accessible, lots of ways for the fans all over the world to connect with our sport that we love so much. I think it's a great relationship.
And then the other thing is we look at NTT, they have ties in the auto industry, and so to make this announcement here in Detroit where we have the North American International Auto Show I think is quite appropriate. Whether it's working on AV or electrification or the way we use data to make all that happen, I think it's an appropriate place to do that.
I also want to say to Jay and to Mark and Kevin, thank you for putting me at this end of the podium closest to these trophies because that makes me really motivated every day. It's great to have NTT on, and congratulations.
KEVIN LEE: And to commemorate this moment and this new partnership, IndyCar and its drivers have a special gift for Okuno-San. I'd like Jay and Mark, come on over --
MARK MILES: So there will be more days like this in the future, but to help get us started, we hope you'll appreciate this helmet from the NTT IndyCar Series and find a nice place for it in Tokyo.
TSUNEHISA OKUNO: Thank you very much. Should I put it on? Maybe I should learn how to drive. Thank you very much.
KEVIN LEE: Thank you to the North American International Auto Show for hosting us. We can't wait to get started at St. Petersburg in March this year on either NBC or NBCSN. Thank you very much for joining us today.