Allan Brewer, IndyCar Correspondent
Mann to compete with RLL in 3 IndyCar events with newly signed TBC Retail Group sponsor
Rahal Letterman Lanigan's Pippa Mann today announced a sponsorship deal with National Tire and Battery that will put even more punch into the 27-year old Brit's performance at this weekend's New Hampshire Motor Speedway Indy 225 event.
Mann will also drive the #30 Dallara/Honda in IndyCar series events at Warsaw, Kentucky and Las Vegas, Nevada to close out the 2011 season.
"I’m absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to get back into an IndyCar this year," said Mann of the deal. "The team has a great history in IndyCar, and a reputation that precedes them for consistently fielding fast cars.”
Pippa showed her skills in Indy Lights last year
Pippa Mann comes to Indy Car after two seasons in the Indy Lights series. The Ipswich, England native got her start in karting, taking the karting world by storm by becoming the series' first female international event winner. She added another "first" to her personal achievements by putting the Sam Schmidt Motorsports car onto the pole for the 2010 Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. She trumped that move by becoming the first British woman to compete in the Indianapolis 500 on May 29th, finishing in 20th place in the 100th anniversary race at the Brickyard.
“Pippa showed her skills in Indy Lights last year, but we were also impressed with the way she handled herself at Indianapolis this season,” said team co-owner Bobby Rahal. Rahal won the Indianapolis 500 in 1996 as a driver, and again in 2004 as team owner with Buddy Rice behind the wheel in a rain-shortened race.
Mann distinguished herself both on and off the track at Indy; winning praise for her composed and informed manner in the press room and with fans, as well as avoiding rookie mistakes to earn a mid-pack finish in the Indianapolis 500 field after starting in the very last row.
“We are thrilled to have Pippa represent the NTB brand in New Hampshire. Not only is she a fine young lady with outstanding skills behind the wheel, she is building a solid reputation as being a go-getter,” said Orland Wolford, President and CEO of TBC Retail Group, parent of National Tire and Battery. “We look forward to watching her climb the ranks of racing.”
“NTB and all of TBC Retail Group have been great partners to work with in the past, and we are pleased to continue our relationship with this program,” said Rahal. “We have high expectations for this program and we anticipate that Pippa will work very hard to represent NTB and the TBC Retail Group as professionally as possible.”
Mann will be making her maiden voyage with RLL this weekend at Loudon’s one-mile oval, although the former Firestone Indy Lights frontrunner tested there with the team last month.
"Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing introduced me to Orland Wolford of TBC just under a week ago now. As we were admiring my new car, I think we both thought that the National Tire & Battery Red #30 was already looking pretty racy in her new color scheme, but that there was a little something lacking! Luckily, Orland agreed with me, and I can't thank him, TBC Corporation and Service Central enough for coming on board! I am extremely excited to be added to the roster of Indy Car drivers whom they have supported and I am looking forwards to representing National Tire & Battery and Big O Tires out on track for the remainder of this season!”
The Indy 225 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway gets underway Thursday afternoon with a pair of practice session on the Loudon oval. The cars will practice and qualify on Saturday afternoon, setting the grid for Sunday’s 225-lap event. The race can be seen live on ABC beginning at 4 p.m. Eastern Time.