The BlackBook provides all the commercial details you need to know ahead of the start of the American single seater’s season start in Alabama – brought to you by Blackbookmotorsport.com.
Like every motorsport series, IndyCar saw its season upended by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.
Balancing connecting with fans and commercial partners, keeping personnel safe and scheduling as many races as possible with county and state restrictions was a new and challenging task for organizers of North America’s premier open-wheel racing series. Despite this, 14 races were held from June to October, including the famous Indianapolis 500.
“What worked in one county or state didn’t necessarily translate to another,” IndyCar marketing director SJ Luedtke tells the BlackBook. “Finding out what we could do and where we could go to our circuits combined with finding broadcast times was really a huge challenge – it’s a puzzle we had to put together.”
Luedtke and her team were tasked with keeping fans engaged in the run up to the first race in Texas in June. “We embraced the power of video chats and conferences,” she notes.
Something IndyCar quickly got the hang of was its virtual iRacing challenge, an esports competition that included nearly every driver from the 2020 grid. It was an opportunity for the series to connect with fans, teams and commercial partners during the break.
“Two weeks after we shut down in St Petersburg [in Florida], we had a six-week iRacing challenge going with our partners at iRacing where we had every driver, just about, competing in liveries that helped deliver some value for our sponsors, and partnering with our partners NBC here in the States as well as streaming that internationally was a big win for everyone involved,” Luedtke says.
The iRacing challenge proved a successful way for IndyCar to connect with fans and sponsors
The series was also able to connect with fans through personal video chats with drivers on a weekly basis, while hosting events such as an auction enabled IndyCar to offer fans a unique experience and raise money for important charity partners.
Welcoming fans back in 2021
As the clock ticks down to the 2021 IndyCar season, the series is preparing to welcome fans and commercial partners back to the track. Luedtke likens the process to chapters: the first, spanning the first three races, is when the series will look to start to host fans at a limited capacity at the tracks, juggling different state restrictions.
“Then, we get outside of May, we’ll look at that as the next chapter,” she says. “Hopefully by early summer based on what we’re hearing in the States, vaccinations will be close to herd level immunity where we can open it up a little bit closer to what we all consider normal for the back half of our season.”
Despite the positivity, IndyCar faces a difficult balancing act of ensuring fans and commercial partners get the best possible experience with the series whilst prioritizing safety and keeping within local laws.
Targeting new demographics
Looking to the upcoming season, IndyCar is committing to diversity and inclusion through a series of programs, some of which began before the pandemic. In July, the series announced it was planning to reinvigorate its push for diversity and Luedtke outlined some important initiatives IndyCar has been working on.
“We have Next-Gen Racers, which is a karting experience based in Indianapolis and it’s been a successful program serving the African American and Latino American communities here in Indianapolis,” she says.
“Kids get opportunities to drive go-karts and learn to be mechanics, and we’re expanding that program into other race markets as well as expanding so it’s not just about driving. We know there’s a lot of other opportunities in and around the sport like business development and marketing.”
IndyCar has also partnered with African American-owned and led USF2000 team Force Indy, who are entered in the ‘Road to Indy’ ladder system which feeds into the main series championship. In terms of gender equality, the series will welcome Paretta Autosport for the Indianapolis 500, a team which is almost completely made up of women.
Simona De Silvestro will drive for Paretta Autosport at this years’ Indianapolis 500.
Sustainability in IndyCar
As the push for sustainable motorsport increases with the success of series such as Formula E and the introduction of electric SUV championship Extreme E, IndyCar is pushing to become more environmentally friendly. Whilst it is unlikely the series will make the switch to fully electric – the series feels “really strongly that [it] want[s] to hold onto [its] roots of motor racing which is having a somewhat traditional motor,” Luedtke says – IndyCar is putting in place some initiatives to ensure environmental and sustainable responsibility.
The series is looking to implement a hybrid system as well as innovating in areas of engine management and fuel. Additionally, reducing its carbon footprint at events, particularly the Indianapolis 500, is something IndyCar is passionate about.
“We know that’s the world’s largest single-day sporting event – it carries a lot of impact on the environment with it so our team at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is working diligently to see how we reduce that single event or the month of May footprint,” Luedtke says.
As with many other motorsport series such as Formula One, IndyCar is also aiming for carbon neutrality in the future. “Our goal is to become carbon neutral if not carbon negative in the next couple of years from an overall series standpoint,” Luedtke adds.
With an exciting line-up of old and new drivers and the potential to welcome fans and commercial partners back in full capacity at some point this year, 2021 is set to be a big season for IndyCar. Ahead of the first race in Birmingham, Alabama this weekend, the BlackBook presents a team-by-team breakdown of all the commercial details you need to know for the new campaign.
A. J. Foyt Enterprises
Last season: 18th (Charlie Kimball), 26th (Dalton Kellett), 28th (Sebastien Bourdais), 30th (J.R. Hildebrand)
Owner: A.J. Foyt
Team principal: Larry Foyt
Base: Waller, Texas
Cars: Number one (J.R. Hildebrand), number four (Dalton Kellett), number 11 (Charlie Kimball), number 14 (Sebastien Bourdais)
Sponsors and partners: ABC Supply (number one), K-Line Insulators (number four), Novo Nordisk (number 11), ROKiT (number 14), Chevrolet, Housby, K-Air Leasing, L&W Supply, Marwin Sports, Ripkurrent, Sexton Properties, Sherwin-Williams Coil Coatings
What they’ve been up to: After a difficult 2020, marred with Covid-19 infections and reduced running, A. J. Foyt managed to end the season on a high in St. Petersburg, Florida. The team has secured Canadian driver Dalton Kellett as a full-time driver for the 2021 IndyCar season after driving part-time for the team in 2020.
A.J. Foyt Enterprises are looking forwards to a more successful 2021 season.
Last season: 9th (Alexander Rossi), 10th (Ryan Hunter-Reay), 21st (Zach Veach), 23rd (James Hinchcliffe)
Owner: Michael Andretti
Team principal: Rob Edwards
Base: Indianapolis, Indiana
Cars: Number 26 (Colton Herta), number 27 (Alexander Rossi), number 28 (Ryan Hunter-Reay)
Sponsors: Gainbridge (number 26), NAPA Auto Parts (number 27), DHL (number 28), AutoNation, Genesys, Capstone Turbine Corporation, BMW, Gallant, Group 1001, DRV PNK, Oberto, Circle K, Gleaners, Ruoff Mortgage, Uni First, Window World, Carlyle, Kinetic Vision, PDI, Clausthaler, OI Orthoindy, Dickinson Fleet Services, DuraMax, Steinbrenner Racing, Curb Records, Hobson, The Stellrecht Company, David Tilton Racing, Military Motorsports, Rough Rider, Mi Windows, Business Furniture, Fields, Indy Truck and Auto Repair, Road to Indy, Indy Lights, Firstex Industries, Sirius, SailPoint, Data Robot, Juniper Networks, Cyberreason, Den Jet, Powertap Hydrogen, Kimoa, Allinsports Racing, Simply Max, Sol Yoga
Technical Suppliers: Honda Racing, Firestone, Siemens, DMG Mori, AAT3D, Orafol, Sharp, Guardian, Eroad, Axiatp, BASF, Delivera, Sherwin-Williams Coil Coatings, Lincoln Welders, Big Kaiser, Assosiated, IFN, Boss Laser, Hewlett-Packard, Onyx, Cooper Tires, Michelin, Andretti Technologies, Org Home, Impact, Racing Electronics
What they’ve been up to: Heading into the 2021 season, Andretti Autosport has re-secured driver Ryan Hunter-Reay and his partnership with DHL as well as Alexander Rossi and Colton Herta. Herta is aiming to seek out the 2021 championship after securing third place in the 2020 championship. Teammate and 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner Rossi also has his sights on the championship after a challenging 2020 season. One of the biggest names in American and international motorsport, Andretti Autosport has secured a large array of sponsors and suppliers in preparation for the season ahead.
Team owner Michael Andretti is hoping Andretti Autosport can fight for the title in 2021.
Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport
Last season: 3rd (Colton Herta)
Owner: Michael Andretti and George Steinbrenner IV
Team principal: Brian Barnhardt
Base: Speedway, Indiana
Cars: Number 29 (James Hinchcliffe)
Sponsors: Genesys Capstone (number 29)
What they’ve been up to: A fairly new team in the IndyCar world, Steinbrenner was founded under the name Harding Racing in 2017. After being forming partnerships with Steinbrenner Racing in 2019 and Andretti Autosport in 2020, the team was renamed to Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport. The team was moved to Andretti’s workshop as part of the deal and at the end of 2020 the team dropped the Harding branding. After a successful 2020 season with Colton Herta, the team has secured driver James Hinchcliffe and has its sights on more podiums and race wins in 2021.
Andretti Herta Autosport w/ Marco Andretti & Curb-Agajanian
Last season: 20th (Marco Andretti)
Owner: Michael Andretti, Bryan Herta, Marco Andretti, Mike Curb, Cary Agajanian
Team principal: Bryan Herta
Base: Indianapolis, Indiana
Cars: Number 98 (Marco Andretti)
Sponsors: Gleaners (number 98), IMSA, Hyundai, Curb Records, Honda, King Taco, Alarm.com, Castrol Edge
What they’ve been up to: The team is an amalgamation of Bryan Herta Autosport, Andretti Autosport, the Curb-Agajanian Performance Group and part owner and driver Marco Andretti. Andretti’s number 98 car will feature Gleaners Food Bank as its primary sponsor to accelerate food insecurity awareness across Indiana. The team will help support Gleaners’ ‘No one Runs on Empty’ campaign for a second consecutive year.
Arrow McLaren SP
Last season: 4th (Patricio O’Ward), 19th (Oliver Askew), 27th (Helio Castroneves), 31st (Fernando Alonso)
Owner: Sam Schmidt, Ric Peterson
Team principal: Taylor Kiel
Base: Indianapolis, Indiana
Cars: Number five (Patricio O’Ward), number seven (Felix Rosenqvist), number 86 (Juan Pablo Montoya)
Sponsors: Arrow Electronics Vuse
What they’ve been up to: New team Arrow McLaren SP completed its first new IndyCar season in 2020, 40 years after its last entry. The team had a strong first season, securing fourth place in the drivers’ championship and securing six podiums. Heading into 2021, the team has signed drivers Felix Rosenqvist and Juan Pablo Montoya and will be fighting to secure more podiums.
McLaren’s Pato O’Ward is hoping for another strong season with the Indianapolis-based outfit.
Last season: 17th (Conor Daly), 22nd (Max Chilton)
Owner: Trevor Carlin
Base: Delray Beach, Florida
Cars: Number 59 (Max Chilton)
What they’ve been up to: Carlin heads into its fourth full-time entry into IndyCar in 2021 after finding success in the Indy Lights series. Former Formula One driver Max Chilton returns to the team for another season with the Florida-based outfit.
Carlin is hoping for a strong season with driver Max Chilton in 2021.
Chip Ganassi Racing
Last season: 1st (Scott Dixon), 11th (Felix Rosenqvist), 12th (Marcus Ericsson)
Owner: Chip Ganassi
Team principal: Mike Hull
Base: Indianapolis, Indiana
Cars: Number eight (Marcus Ericsson), number nine (Scott Dixon), number ten (Alex Palou), number 48 (Jimmie Johnson and Tony Kanaan)
Sponsors: Huski Chocolate (number eight), PNC Bank (number nine), NTT Data (number ten), Carvana (number 48), Advent Health, Badger Sport, Honda, Hylant, Lincoln Welders, Machanix Wear, Okuma, PNC, Schwarz Partners, Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes, United Concordia Dental
What they’ve been up to: American racing legend Chip Ganassi Racing will continue with former Formula One driver Marcus Ericsson and his primary sponsor Huski Chocolate for a third season in 2021. Reigning series champion Scott Dixon will be targeting another championship in 2021 as new team driver Tony Kanaan looks to improve on his 2020 results and Alex Palou joins the team for the upcoming season. Seven-time Nascar champion Jimmie Johnson will make the move over to single seaters, joining the team at Chip Ganassi Racing on a part-time basis for 2021.
Nascar champion Jimmie Johnson will drive for Chip Ganassi Racing on the road and street courses in 2021.
Dale Coyne Racing w/ Rick Ware Racing
Last season: 24th (James Davidson)
Owner: Dayle Coyne and Rick Ware
Base: Mooresville, North Carolina
Cars: Number 51 (Romain Grosjean, Pietro Fittipaldi), number 52 (TBA)
Sponsors: Nurtec ODT (number 51)
What they’ve been up to: Former Formula One driver Romain Grosjean makes the switch to IndyCar for the 2021 season, sharing the car with another famous Formula One name: Pietro Fittipaldi. In 2020, the team partnered with Dale Coyne Racing and is set to continue this partnership for 2021. The team is also expected to run a number 52 Honda for the 2021 Indianapolis 500, hoping for better luck in the event after its car caught fire in 2020.
Former Formula One driver Romain Grosjean will drive for the team part-time.
Dale Coyne Racing w/ Vasser-Sullivan
Last season: 13th (Santino Ferrucci)
Owner: Dale Coyne, Jimmy Vasser, James Sullivan
Base: Plainfield, Illinois
Cars: Number 18 (Ed Jones)
What they’ve been up to: Dale Coyne has extended its partnership with Jimmy Vasser and James Sullivan for multiple years. After the team’s last win was secured in 2018, 2021 driver Ed Jones will be looking to bring the team valuable results.
Ed Carpenter Racing
Last season: 14th (Rinus VeeKay), 17th (Conor Daly), 25th (Ed Carpenter)
Owner: Ed Carpenter, Tony George
Team principal: Tim Broyles
Base: Indianapolis, Indiana
Cars: Number 20 (Ed Carpenter, Conor Daly), number 21 (Rinus VeeKay), TBA (Conor Daly)
Sponsors: United States Air Force (number 20), Sonax (number 21)
What they’ve been up to: 2021 marks the team’s 10th season competing in IndyCar after being founded by veteran driver Ed Carpenter. The team has retained the same drivers for 2021 season after seeing success in 2020. Driver Rinus VeeKay secured the 2020 Rookie of the Year title after securing a pole position and three top five finishes. The team sets to improve on its 2020 results going into the 2021 season.
Team owner and driver Ed Carpenter looks to improve on the team’s 2020 results in its 10th year in IndyCar.
Meyer Shank Racing
Last season: 15th (Jack Harvey)
Owner: Mike Shank, Jim Meyer
Team principal: Michael Shank, Jim Meyer, Jackie Heinricher
Base: Colombus, Ohio
Cars: Number six (Helio Castroneves), number 60 (Jack Harvey)
Sponsors: Sirius XM (number 60)
What they’ve been up to: Heading into its fourth year competing in IndyCar with one full-season entry, IMSA champions Meyer Shank Racing are setting out to improve results in 2021. Despite facing challenges in 2020, driver Jack Harvey managed to secure six top ten finishes. Partner and IndyCar veteran Helio Castroneves is looking to secure a fourth Indianapolis 500 win going into the 2021 season.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Last season: 6th (Grahan Rahal), 7th (Takuma Sato)
Owner: Bobby Rahal, David Letterman, Mike Lanigan
Team principal: Ricardo Nault
Base: Brownsburg, Indiana
Cars: Number 15 (Graham Rahal), number 30 (Takuma Sato), number 45 (Santino Ferrucci)
Sponsors: United Rentals (number 15), Fifth Third Bank (number 15), Panasonic (number 30), Mi-Jack (number 30), Hy-Vee (number 45), Nissin Foods
What they’ve been up to: Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing is looking towards a successful 2021 season after driver Takuma Sato secured the coveted Indianapolis 500 crown in 2020. The team has secured and extended several partnerships ahead of the 2021 season, including a deal expansion with Nissin Foods from associate Indy500 sponsor to full-season sponsor.
Takuma Sato won the famous Indianapolis 500 race in 2020.
Last season: 2nd (Josef Newgarden), 5th (Will Power), 8th (Simon Pagenaud), 27th (Helio Castroneves), 35th (Scott McLaughlin)
Owner: Roger Penske
Team principal: Tim Cindric
Base: Mooresville, North Carolina
Cars: Number two (Josef Newgarden), number three (Scott McLaughlin), number 12 (Will Power), number 22 (Simon Pagenaud)
Sponsors: Hitachi (number two), PPG (number three), Verizon (number 12), Menards (number 22)
What they’ve been up to: Team Penske has expanded to four full-season entries for the 2021 season. Drivers Josef Newgarden, Will Power and Simon Pagenaud, 2019 Indianapolis 500 race winner, will be joined by Australian Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin. After a successful 2020 season for the team, Newgarden and his teammates will be looking to bring the fight for the championship going into 2021.
Australian Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin agreed a multi-year contract with Team Penske to compete full-time in IndyCar.
AMR, Borg Warner, Chevrolet, Coors Light, Dallara, DEX Imaging, Firestone, Holmatro, Honda, Honda Generators, Larsens Inc, Lincoln Welders, Netjets, NTT, Pennzoil, Perkin Elmer, PFC Brakes, PPG, Safety-Kleen, Sherwin-Williams, Sirius XM, Snapon Inc, Speedway, Tag Heuer, Verizon, Xtrac
Africa and Middle East:
South Africa, Sub Saharan Africa: SuperSport
Sub Saharan Africa: Canal +
Across Asia: Star Sports, Fox Sports
Japan: Gaora Sports
Myanmar: Canal +
Australia: Fox Sports
New Zealand: Sky Sport
Canada: SN World, SN Now Plus, SN 360
United States: NBC, NBCSN, Peacock, IndyCar Mobile
Belgium: Voo Sport World
France: Canal +
Hungary: Arena 4
Ireland and United Kingdom: Sky Sports F1
Netherlands: Ziggo Sport
Portugal: Sport TV
Romania: Se Sport Extra
Across South America: Claro Video
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