Harrah's to Sponsor Panther Racing and Vitor Meira at Indy 500 Casino Company Bets on Former IRL Champs and 2005 Indy 500 Runner-Up INDIANAPOLIS (May 25, 2006) -- Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: HET), the world's largest casino ...
Harrah's to Sponsor Panther Racing and Vitor Meira at Indy 500
Casino Company Bets on Former IRL Champs and 2005 Indy 500 Runner-Up
INDIANAPOLIS (May 25, 2006) -- Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: HET), the world's largest casino entertainment company, today announced it will sponsor Panther Racing driver Vitor Meira, one of the Indy Racing League's premier drivers, during Sunday's 90th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race®.
Meira, who finished second at last year's Indianapolis 500 , has recorded a Top Five and two Top Ten finishes in the first three races of the IndyCar Series season. He enters the Indy 500 in eighth place in the IndyCar Series points standings, and qualified on the second row for this year's race -- the best start for both Meira and Panther Racing at the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
"This is a fantastic opportunity for us to align ourselves with one of the world's best drivers during auto racing's premier event," said Ginny Shanks, senior vice president of brand management for Harrah's. "The Indy 500 is the grandest stage in all of motorsports, and we feel strongly that Panther and Vitor are well positioned to take the checkered flag this year."
"We are just thrilled about this newest partnership with Harrah's," Panther co-owner John Barnes said. "They produce winners in their casinos every day, and they've signed on with another group of winners here at Panther Racing. We've got all the pieces in place to win this race on Sunday."
Meira joined his team owner with excitement over the team's newest addition.
"We're thrilled to welcome Harrah's into the Panther Racing family for the 2006 Indy 500," Meira said. "I'm hoping to build on last year's great run, so the team can also welcome our new friends into the Winner's Circle for the world's best drink of milk."
In addition to finishing second at last year's Indianapolis 500, Meira recorded the second-closest finish in Indy Racing League history at Kansas in 2004. He has two additional second-place finishes in the past two seasons, and many within the racing industry expect this year's Indianapolis 500 to be a breakout event for him.
Meira, the inaugural winner of the Indy Racing League's Rising Star Award, qualified sixth for this year's Indianapolis 500 and will have a strong starting position in the second row. The Brazilian-born resident of Indianapolis has recorded 15 top five finishes and 26 top 10 finishes in 45 Indy Racing League starts.
Panther Racing ranks third on the all-time IndyCar Series victory list with 15 wins and the team won back-to-back championships in 2001 and 2002. Panther also captured the Infiniti Pro Series Championship in 2003, when it won seven of the 11 races held that season. The team is coming off it's best finish in the Indy 500, a fifth place result last season with 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier.
Off the track, Meira is an accomplished triathlete and active in charitable work. He was auto racing's first Special Olympics ambassador and holds a Brasilia Ambassador Award -- similar to a Golden Key Award -- in Brazil.
Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. is the world's largest provider of branded casino entertainment through operating subsidiaries. Since its beginning in Reno, Nevada 68 years ago, Harrah's has grown through development of new properties, expansions and acquisitions. Harrah's Entertainment is focused on building loyalty and value with its customers through a unique combination of great service, excellent products, unsurpassed distribution, operational excellence and technology leadership.