IPS: IRL: Indy Racing League News and Notes 2007-03-06

INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES -- March 6, 2007 Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines 1. Ritmo Named Official Timepiece of IndyCar Series 2. Season Preview: Mile High Motorsports 3. Corning to sponsor Indy Pro Series doubleheader...

INDYCAR SERIES NEWS AND NOTES -- March 6, 2007

Today's IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series headlines
1. Ritmo Named Official Timepiece of IndyCar Series
2. Season Preview: Mile High Motorsports
3. Corning to sponsor Indy Pro Series doubleheader at The Glen

1. Ritmo Named Official Timepiece Of IndyCar Series: The IndyCar Series today announced a multi-year partnership with Ritmo Mundo, the Beverly Hills, Calif.-based maker of watches, clocks and watchcases that has been acclaimed for offering a wide selection of timepieces that blends tradition with trends. The five-year partnership makes Ritmo the official timepiece of the IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series and includes a licensing agreement for IndyCar Series-branded Ritmo timepieces that can be expanded to include driver-branded timepieces in the near future.

As part of the partnership, Ritmo will present a $100,000 watch to the IndyCar Series championship driver and a watch to each IndyCar Series race winner as well as a $25,000 watch to the Indy Pro Series championship driver and a timepiece to each Indy Pro Series race winner.

Ritmo will promote the partnership through traditional channels such as the IMS Radio Network, IndyCar Series magazine, Indianapolis 500 race program, indycar.com banner ads and video displays at each series event. Additional promotion includes an IndyCar Series-branded ad campaign for print and new media focusing on Ritmo's relationship with the series.

Further, Ritmo will also include the IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series champion drivers in separate campaigns. "Today's partnership announcement with Ritmo gives the IndyCar Series a true marketing partner committed to activating its relationship and building a mutually beneficial licensing program," said Gerald Raines, national sales senior director for the IndyCar Series. "In a very short period of time, Ritmo has garnered an astounding amount of retail, press, and consumer attention, resulting in becoming one of the hottest watch brands throughout the world, making it a natural fit for the IndyCar Series."

Combining early 1900s design with modern, trendy Italian styling, Ritmo Mundo was founded by luxury retailer and watch aficionado Ali Soltani. With offices in Milan, Italy and inspired by timepieces of the 1920's, '30's and '40's, the brand has moved from an unknown brand to a cult 'must have' watch. Over the course of the past five years, RITMO has found selective partners to highlight its product through diligent distribution in each region. Celebrating exhilarating growth and continual innovation, RITMO has redefined luxury timepieces by providing a unique blend of century old designs with sensuous extraordinary Swiss and Italian craftsmanship.

"This year, RITMO celebrates five years in business and there is no better way to celebrate exhilarating growth and continuous innovation today than to announce our long-term partnership with the IndyCar Series," Soltani said. "Our partnership draws upon the rich 90-year history of Indy car racing to expose our brand to an unprecedented audience of sporting and lifestyle enthusiast. Soon, special edition and limited edition RITMO IndyCar (Series) timepieces will be introduced thrilling watch and car enthusiast simultaneously."

Soltani's motivation was the realization that people bought watches in a mix and match fashion and had collections in much the same way as they have shoes, ties or scarves. This led him to think about creating a watch brand that would have price sensitive collections in various colors and styles. Genuine Ritmo watches are sold exclusively through their worldwide network of authorized retailers and are a wardrobe favorite on shows such as "American Idol" and "CSI: Miami." Elizabeth Taylor, who inspired the very first Ritmo watch, leads the list of high-profile artists who indulge in the craftsmanship, glamour and unique, bold designs of the watches. Today, Ritmo adorns the wrists of Sarah Jessica Parker, Gwen Stefani, Sean "Diddy" Combs, Lindsay Lohan, Tyra Banks, Beyonce Knowles, Jennifer Lopez, Denzel Washington, Busta Rhymes, Sting, Jeremy Piven and the stars of "Entourage," as well as Bill Clinton, Samuel L. Jackson, Quincy Jones and Larry King.

Ritmo watches have also been featured in major studio films "Snakes on a Plane," "Red Line," "Ocean's Twelve" and the upcoming "Ocean's Thirteen."

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2. Season Preview: Mile High Motorsports: Leading up to the season-opening Miami 100 on March 24, we'll preview the teams and drivers that will compete in 2007 for the Indy Pro Series' Firestone Firehawk Cup. Today, is series newcomer Mile High Motorsports.

CAPSULE LOOK
Owners: Grant Bentrud, Micky Gilbert
Driver: Micky Gilbert (No. 54)
Team Manager: Grant Bentrud
Chief Mechanic: Pete Bloathner

Overview: Mile High Motorsports joins the ranks of several teams entering Indy Pro Series competition for the first time in 2007. Team owners Grant Bentrud and Micky Gilbert started looking at the series in 2006 and partnered with Guthrie Racing for Gilbert to drive the doubleheader event at Infineon Raceway, where he recorded two top-10 finishes. Since then, the team has been a flurry of activity acquiring everything needed to mount its own effort.

At the recent Open Test at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Gilbert was 18th-quick on the road course and 21st on the oval. Those showings weren't discouraging, however. The time on the oval was only six-tenths of a second off the leader.

Watch For--Improvement: Gilbert has been racing competitively since 1991, winning SCCA Formula Mazda and Star Mazda Expert titles. As the team comes together, expect to see strong results.

IN HIS OWN WORDS Micky Gilbert, co-owner and driver: "Right now we're just looking to get organized. You have an enormous amount of undertaking with a new startup team. We'll look for speed after the organization is done. I think we've got a good team together. We just have to get it all under control right now. Personally, in the last two months, I've done 30 days on the go-kart track, just intense, intense training. My ribs are feeling it right now. I'm working my butt off to get my skill level up. I'm doing everything I possibly can to get in shape. I feel great. I just want to focus now on the car and the team and get everything in line."

***

3. Corning to sponsor Indy Pro Series doubleheader at The Glen: Corning Incorporated, the title sponsor of the Indy Pro Series race at Watkins Glen International since 2005, will double its pleasure this year by titling both halves of the Indy Pro Series doubleheader at the famed road course this season. The Corning Twin 100's will be run during Watkins Glen Grand Prix event weekend on July 7-8.

"We are proud to further our relationship with a partner so vital to our community," said Watkins Glen International President Craig Rust. "Corning Incorporated's decision to sponsor both 100's demonstrates their continued commitment to the world-class racing held here at The Glen."

This will be the first year that Corning Twin 100's will run at Watkins Glen. In 2005 and 2006, a single Corning 100 was run during the Watkins Glen Grand Prix weekend. The Indy Pro Series introduced doubleheader weekends in 2006 as a cost-effective way to add races to the schedule. The addition of the second Corning 100 will give race fans two opportunities to see the talented up-and-coming drivers of the Indy Pro Series.

Corning holds an extensive history at the legendary road course dating back to 1983 when Corning Enterprises, a then newly formed subsidiary of Corning purchased the track and formed a partnership with International Speedway Corporation (ISC). In 1997, ISC became the sole owner of the historic facility and continues to run its operations today.

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The 2007 IndyCar Series season begins under the lights with the XM Satellite Radio Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 24. The race will be telecast live by ESPN2 at 8 p.m. (EDT) and broadcast by the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPN Deportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio and www.indycar.com. The sixth season of Indy Pro Series competition begins with the Miami 100 on March 24 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be telecast at 5 p.m. (EDT) on March 28 by ESPN2.

-credit: irl

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Series IndyCar , Indy Lights