State of INDYCAR Event Transcript
January 11, 2011
THE MODERATOR: We welcome you to the State of IndyCar 2011 event. This is not a typical program you're about to see. We have a lot of exciting things that we're going to talk about this afternoon. We have a lot of fantastic people we are going to introduce you to.
That being said, please feel free to applaud, stand up, cheer, enjoy yourselves. This is a very informal program we're about to present. Again, lots of great things to talk about. Enjoy yourselves, have a great time this afternoon.
As I look to my right and left at these symbols of great achievement, the IZOD IndyCar Series trophy and the Borg-Warner trophy, all the fantastic heroes that have won that great race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as the Speedway continues its centennial era celebration this year, we take a look back at the first of three four-time winners of the Indianapolis 500.
THE MODERATOR: Welcome to the stage the future stars of IndyCar. The reigning Star Mazda driver, Indianapolis's own Conor Daly, 2010 Firestone Indy Lights champion J.K. Vernay.
Now the best of the best, the confirmed drivers for the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series campaign that could be with us this afternoon. Hailing from Canada, Alex Tagliani. Two-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion, from New Zealand, Scott Dixon. Returning this season with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Justin Wilson. Your 2010 Mario Andretti champion from Australia, Will Power. Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner, from Team Penske, Helio Castroneves. Your 2004 champion, Tony Kanaan. A native of Brazil, returning with A.J. Foyt Racing, Vitor Meira.
Now our American heroes. The 2009 Firestone Indy Lights champion who will compete with Panther Racing in 2011, here is JR Hildebrand. A California native making his IZOD IndyCar Series debut with Chip Ganassi Racing, Charlie Kimball. The youngest winner in IndyCar Series history, joining Chip Ganassi Racing this season, Graham Rahal. The first woman to win a major open-wheel race driving for Andretti Autosports, please welcome Danica Patrick. A third-generation driver carrying on the family legacy, for Andretti Autosports, Marco Andretti. The reigning winner of the Grand Prix of Long Beach, returning to Andretti Autosports, Ryan Hunter-Reay. Driving for Sarah Fisher Racing, from Indianapolis, Indiana, Ed Carpenter.
Now please welcome to the stage your reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion and defending Indianapolis 500 winner, Dario Franchitti.
On behalf of IndyCar, we'd like to welcome all drivers, teams, sponsors, media and guests to today's presentation.
Let's turn things over to IndyCar's CEO Randy Bernard.
RANDY BERNARD: Thank you and good afternoon. On behalf of the Hulman-George family, we'd like to welcome you. It's also a big privilege today to have the 500 Festival with us. If we could just bottle you up and take you to all 17 events and let you create your magic that you do here in Indianapolis, we'd have a successful series all around the world. We appreciate your being here. Thank you.
We are here today to talk about our business and marketing plan. It's very important for us to make sure that we gain your confidence, number one. Number two, each and every one of you are delivered the same message so we can convey something very consistent out there.
I want to say right now, we're not going to give you all the press announcements today. We have a plan, and timing is a very important part in the next four months. I will start off by saying one of the biggest questions I'm asked: Will IndyCar make a profit in 2011? Let me make it very clear, the most important thing that we can do is not take shortcuts. We have to set a foundation that is going to continue this legacy for the next hundred years. That's the most important thing that we can do.
Of course we want to make a profit, but the most important is lay down that foundation.
Now, what is our commitment to you? We've broken this today into six areas. The first area is the fans. We must be committed to giving you compelling competition and entertainment and value from this sport. That's the most important thing we can do for you. You'll hear us talk tremendously about this today.
Second, for the sponsors, we must grow your brands, give you return on investment, and we must create a positive experience for your customers.
Team owners, we have to work as a partner. We have to communicate. We have to listen. We have to do what's in the best interest of the sport for this competition.
The drivers, we have to showcase you as the very best-of-the-best. You have to be the fastest, most versatile racecar drivers in the world. It's imperative that we create credibility to our fans that you are the best. We will do that.
Now, I ask two things from you: continue to be yourself and continue to be accessible. I hear all the time from fans always asking, Are the drivers that accessible? How many times have you gone to an NFL game and gotten an autograph? Our drivers are the best in the world. They go to the autograph sessions. They are fantastic. I'm going to stand up and talk more about that because it's very important.
Next, the promotors. We're committed to selling tickets for you. We'll do that by growing our fan base and growing our television audience.
Last but not least is the press. We must give you relevant information, quality statistics, and great, compelling story lines. That's our promise.
Now, after we hear from IndyCar management, we'll here from Jeff Belskus. He and his team will talk about their plan for the Indy 500 this year.
I'm not going to stand up here and talk for an hour and a half. When I got here last March, I wasn't sure what I was going to talk about from the standpoint of a team. What I can now say is we have one great team. They put the plans together. They're the ones that are going to fulfill it and be held accountable with me. It's important for them to showcase what they can do.
I want to give special credit Terry Angstadt and Brian Barnhart. They've done an outstanding job of making sure we have this together today. I hope you enjoy it. Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: Please welcome to the stage, Brian Barnhart, president of competition and operations.
BRIAN BARNHART: Good afternoon. Welcome, everyone. I appreciate your effort to be here at Indy. We have a little bit different format for this meeting than previous years. I'll be making this fairly short as we don't have many changes from the operational and competition standpoint for 2011. Since our season-ending event in Homestead last October, we've had several big announcements and additions to the IZOD IndyCar Series. We're building some solid momentum as we move into the 2012 race season with the introduction of our new race chassis. Dallara has broken ground on their facility here in Speedway for the production of the 2012 car. Along with the new car, we'll be going back into a competitive environment in the engine department. Our long time partner Honda will continue to be involved and will be joined by Chevrolet and Lotus beginning in 2012. We certainly welcome them back to IndyCar competition.
I don't think we could have asked for anything better as we enter the next phase of racing. Tony Cotman will be giving everybody an update on the equipment later in this presentation.
We have one more year of racing the current equipment package. We're looking to a great season in 2011. The 2011 schedule has a different look, including a new event in Baltimore on Labor Day weekend. It should be an outstanding venue, located right in downtown Baltimore on the inner harbor. We'll also be returning to some tracks and markets where we're had success in the past, including New Hampshire, Milwaukee, and perhaps Las Vegas. We'll begin our on-track activities with an open test at the Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama on March 14th, 15th, and 16th.
Our second open test will be at Kentucky, and will take place on May 9 and 10 with the IndyCars running on the 9th and the Lights cars running on the 10th. These will be the only open tests of the year, but we'll be adding some track time and practice sessions to several events during the season. In addition to those open tests, we'll have extended track time at New Hampshire and our season-ending event. This will take place on Thursday after moving into the facility on that morning. We'll be adding a practice on Friday at Milwaukee and Thursday at Iowa, similar to what we did last year at Infineon and Mid-Ohio.
Bill (indiscernible) is currently working on the event schedules for each weekend. As soon as we have them finalized, we'll distribute them to everyone.
During the off-season, we've been soliciting input from the drivers and owners with regards to rules and procedures for the 2011 season and beyond. After several conversations and meetings, we have a few changes that I'll go over with you here today.
One change will be with our pit selection process for 2011. Beginning this season, the order for pit selection will be determined by qualification results instead of by entrant points. Qualification results will determine the pit selection order for the next similar venue on the schedule. Qualification results on a road and street course will determine the selection process at the next road and street course on the schedule and the next qualification results from an oval will determine the pit selection process for the next oval on the schedule.
Entrants will not have the option of averaging teammates. All pit selections will be done on an individual basis. The selection process for St. Pete, the season-opening event, will be done based on the entrant points from 2010. Pit selection process at Indianapolis will remain unchanged.
We'll also be increasing the performance standard for participation. For several years on the road and street course events we used 107 percent of the fastest lap time as the cutoff for participation. We'll be moving that down to 105 percent this year for the current season. As an example, the fastest lap time is 60 seconds on a road course, you must be at 63 seconds or better to continue to participate for that weekend. This is consistent with our position of having the best teams and drivers in the world and will continue to tighten the competition.
On ovals we'll continue to use miles per hour rather than lap times to evaluate participation.
Another change, for the first practice session, we'll be going back to something we did in 2009. The first practice session will be a 75-minute practice session. The first 45 will be for rookies and cars outside the top 10 in points. An extra set of tires will be made available to these participants for purchase to their discretion. The final 30 minutes will be for all cars after the first 45 minutes are run for the cars outside the top 10. After the conclusion of the first practice session, the entrants will be required to return tires to Firestone. Those in the top 10 will have to return one set of tires. Those that ran the first 45 minutes will have to return two sets of tires.
In an effort to improve the tire usage and tire efficiency on race weekends, we'll also be making a change in the road course qualifying segments in 2011. You'll only be allowed to use one set of tires for each of the knock-out rounds of qualifying. It will continue to be your choice to use red or blacks in those segments, but you'll be only able to use one set during any segment. Whatever set you start the segment with must remain on the car. Again, your choice on red or blacks, but limited to one set for each segments. The requirements for reds on race day will not be changing, so you have to take that into consideration choosing your tires for each qualifying segment.
One other change involves the restarts. We've been listening to the fans and made the change for the desire to have the restarts take place closer to the start/finish line. Instead of accelerating as we come through turns three and four on the ovals, we'll be waiting till you approach the start/finish line, waiting till the field is all the way out on the front straightaway. On the road and street events, this won't represent a significant change. This is basically how we currently restart. However, on the ovals, it will change not only the location as we move closer to the start/finish line, but sometime during the 2011 season we'll also be debuting double-file restarts on the ovals. As we come to the one-to-go signal prior to the restart, the command will be given for the field to line up in double-file formation. We'll have the cars line up in double-file order with the leader on the inside of the front row and each car behind move into position accordingly.
This has been an issue for a number of reasons. I think moving the restart point closer to the start/finish line and going to a double-file can be a positive move for our series. This is something the fans clearly want to see. I feel it's important for us to listen to them.
We've always talked about cautions breeding cautions and the risk for accidents on restarts could increase because of being double-file, but that's something we'll all have to deal with. It will add value to the entertainment of our show and I'm sure you're all capable of doing that at this level of racing.
Basically those will be the changes in rules and procedures for the 2011 season. Obviously we think these changes will bring improvements to our sport and hopefully add value to our existing fans and attract new ones for all of us as well.
One other bit of business to take care of is the leader circle program. We will be distributing the leader circle forms tomorrow and looking for them to be returned no later than January 28th. Notification of leader circle acceptance will be made by February 18th. The terms, fees and details will be included in the application form you'll receive later this week.
The remainder of the operations and competition portion of this program will consist of Tony Cotman with a 2012 equipment package update and Roger Bailey will have an update on the ladder system, including the Firestone Indy Lights, the Star Mazda and the F-2000 series.
I appreciate everyone's efforts to be here as we make preparations for the 2011 season and I wish you the best for a great season. Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: Now welcome 2012 IndyCar project manager, Mr. Tony Cotman.
TONY COTMAN: Obviously there's many things going on in 2012, many things to talk about, a lot of excitement being generated. I just wanted to touch on a few things today. I picked a few topics to try to simplify it and thought they might be points of interest.
Today IndyCar announced the engine capacity will be reduced from 2.4 liter to 2.2 liter maximum. It was evident further improvements and efficiency were possible and by the IndyCar Engine Committee led us in this direction.
What is the IEC? IndyCar Engine Committee is a working group made of all the manufacturers competing in the series and chaired by IndyCar. The group meets several times a year to discuss manufacturer's goals, emerging technologies while developing a roadmap for the future.
As you can imagine, achieving 750 horsepower while maintaining minimum mileage limits is a big challenge which we're all looking forward to. Thanks to everybody in the IEC for their participation. We've had a great start.
Engine regulations have been published for some time but to the manufacturers only. These are not available to the public. We may tailor down a version later to be more simplified, but it's obviously very comprehensive. We've discussed before there will be three baseline power levels between speedways, short ovals and road and streets. We're going to stick to that. All types of circuits require certain levels. We can tune as we need. This will primarily be achieved through different boost levels.
One note. Along with that is the fuel cell. It requires about five to six gallons less fuel because of the reduction in horsepower to operate at a speedway versus a road and street. It's a little wrinkle we have to think about, how we going to achieve that, how we going to still provide good racing?
Aero kits are available. Information, regulations are available to companies interested in participating. These will be tailored into a more simplified format and published to the general public and media closer to May once the details have been more clearly defined.
Remember, when we're designing these aero kits or building them up, we're defining the parameters in conjunction with designing the vehicle. So it's a difficult situation. It's not that we can sit there and come out with a set of aero regulations when we don't know anything about the vehicle yet. As the vehicles evolves, the regulations will evolve along with it.
I would expect to see at least four different aero kit manufacturers in 2012. That was one of our goals, was multiple engine manufacturers, aero manufacturers. That's obviously a good beginning.
The process for aero kits. It's pretty simple. There will be a discussion with interested suppliers or manufacturers. The suppliers or manufacturers will be approved. Coming May of each year, you'll be able to announce your intent to want to be an aero kit manufacturer to the series. More participants will be announced to the general public in October. So basically there's a window from May to October to decide if you want to be in for the following season. Once you're in, you stay in for a couple years minimum. Then we'll go through a simple process of (indiscernible) the components and then it will be on to team selection.
Obviously a lot of challenges for teams, choosing the correct package prior to the season, understanding the package, making the correct decision. I've said many times before that the style of racing we know today will change. Teams will be challenged with decisions as engine manufacturers, along with having to determine which aero kits they're going to use. I think this is all good, exciting for IndyCar. I like to see teams challenged.
Technology. Look at a lot of areas of technology. Obviously we're trying to get through to the younger audience, get new kids involved, new excitement in IndyCar. Some of the things we're looking at, proximity sensors on the vehicles, projecting images inside the cockpit to give a better in-car fan experience, having access to what the driver is seeing. Use of cell phone technology today is incredible. At the end of the day, I think there's three or four good things that we have in the works, not all necessarily going to be unveiled in 2012, but with some good support, we can project two or three years in advance where we're going to be. Wouldn't it be cool if you could sit there in the stands looking at your cell phone picking up telemetry of your favorite driver, in-car views, facial expressions? All that technology is out there.
While we do that, we're still trying to maintain the most versatile racing series in the world. Competition will still be driven at the highest possible level. Fans can look for a new vehicle with a sleek, sexier appearance. The sound of turbo is coming back. We expect to have two show cars for display at the Speedway during the month of May. We can provide a peek into technology and the styling. Remember, the goal is to provide a platform for free-thinking, open-minded participants, while exploring creativity, challenging teams and manufacturers. We want the boundaries to be pushed by all and excitement to a high level in our series.
We look forward to the future of IndyCar together with drivers, teams, manufacturers. Thank you for your time.
THE MODERATOR: Now please welcome to the stage Mr. Roger Bailey, executive director Firestone Indy Lights.
ROGER BAILEY: In 2011, for the first time in the history of IndyCar, we've created a ladder system that will allow drivers to progress up to the IZOD IndyCar Series. We've also attracted an important new partner for the 2011 season and beyond. The ladder from this point on will formally be known as the Mazda Road to Indy. I'd personally like to thank John Doonan in helping us make this a reality.
We have created a six-rung ladder beginning with go-karts. Unfortunately, the go-kart is somewhat confusing in that there are six major sanctioning bodies that control the sport. Until such time as we have this ironed out, it's difficult to determine how we're going to choose a champion. Once that has happened, we will send the champion on to the Skip Barber Racing School. As many of you know, for the young drivers, the opportunity to drive in a Barber car is the first time they've driven a winged car. That should be exciting for those guys.
The Barber champion will get a scholarship of $200,000 to take with him or her up to the new USF 2000 series. The champion of the USF 2000 series will take a $350,000 scholarship up to the very well-established and long serving Star Mazda Series. And the Star Mazda champion will take a $500,000 scholarship to the Firestone Indy Lights Series. The Firestone Indy Lights Series will take between $500,000 and $1 million to the IndyCar team of his or her choice.
In addition to the scholarships that we've just mentioned, we've created an additional scholarship that will welcome the USAC national driving champion into the Firestone Indy Lights Series. This year it will be Bryan Clauson. Bryan will run all of the six oval races, and for the remaining races, I think it will be the five or seven remaining, Conor Daly will take the driving duties for all the road and street courses.
I'd like to thank Mazda and especially Firestone for their contribution in making this program a reality. Firestone Indy Lights as a series will have a competitive 13-race schedule again, six ovals, seven road and street courses, including for the very first time a stand-alone event in Canada. It should be a very exciting time for all of us.
The Mazda Road to Indy will compete at a combined eight events in the 2011 season. Four of the events will have the top four rungs of the ladder competing at those events. Finally I'd like to thank all the owners and sponsors that have joined us in supporting this concept at all levels, ensuring that the IndyCar Series has a strong supply of drivers for many years to come. Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: Here is senior vice president and general manager, IMS Productions, please welcome Robby Green.
ROBBY GREEN: I'm the senior vice president and general manager of IMS Productions. While the official and public release of our broadcast schedule has not been released, I would like to tell you today that ABC has announced with us in partnership the races that they will carry. That is, they'll carry the season opener and the finale, which is of course to be determined, the opener in St. Pete, along with the hundredth running of the Indianapolis 500, the hundredth anniversary. Also Milwaukee and Loudon, New Hampshire. Versus is going to be carry the lion's share of the schedule, carrying the rest of the races and also qualifying for the Indy 500.
As most of you know, ABC plays a critical role in our sport and brand, also representing us in the international distribution of our product.
I had the pleasure a few months ago to meet with many of those syndicators and distributors, and am pleased and excited to report to you all of them are excited about the growth and direction of our sport. They all share a couple of things they need from us and we're working hard to deliver. Those are that they need more content and that they need our product delivered to them in HD. Rest assured, we're working very hard to deliver both of those to them.
We have to continue to sell our sport and our brand, and those around the world, that our drivers represent and are among if not the most elite drivers. With their support and commitment we'll continue to do that.
On the Versus side, I think the most popular question that I'm asked, and I think that you also want answers to, is, When is the merger going to happen? I wish like anything that today I could tell you that. I wish I could invite my friend from Versus in the audience to answer that question, but I simply can't do that. I will share with you the information that Randy and I learned this weekend while traveling together. That is that by the end of this month, the merger is expected to happen and that within a day or two following, they believe the official announcement will happen as well.
Will there be a peacock in our logo? Will our sport and races have the opportunity to air on NBC? I'm sure you've thought of these questions as well as many others. What I can tell you is that we're confident this deal is a deal and will soon close. Internally we've prepared for that day and have received counsel not to finalize contracts or agreements with many of our TV talent and personnel in the belief that the post merger will offer all involved greater strength and opportunities.
We are excited and remain confident this is going to be great for the IZOD IndyCar Series and look forward to sharing more details as they fall into place. Our Versus ratings grew significantly from 2009 to 2010, showing a 40 plus percent growth in key demos while other motorsports declined in theirs.
It's my pleasure and I would appreciate your help in recognizing a few key members from our broadcast partners that are in the audience. I can't see, but Jamie Davis, if you'd stand up. Jamie Davis is the president of Versus. Leon Schweir is the senior vice president of production and executive producer for Versus. Joining us from the Comcast network sales department is Steve Margosian. Steve is the senior vice president of marketing solutions. Terry Lingner is our producer of IndyCar Series on Versus. And then finally Scott Goodyear. He's a driver analyst and work us with in the broadcast booth for our ABC races.
Others such as Rich Feinberg and Dan (indiscernible) are still in an airport somewhere, but I'd like to extend that thank you as well for that effort in attempting to make the trip. It want to thank you all for what you've done. We couldn't do what we do without your continued support. There's no possible way to achieve what we have or what we expect without your leadership, support and passion for our sport, our brands, and the sponsors that make it all possible. So thank you for that.
As further evidence of our commitment to growth, Firestone Indy Lights Series returns to television for 2011. This is great news for a deserving series and a group of professional athletes. Our plan is to deliver at minimum all of the Firestone Indy Lights Series races where Versus is the broadcast partner. In working with the scheduling and distribution team at Versus, we have secured a much better time for those races to be aired, and that would be Wednesdays following the race at 6 p.m. eastern. We are also planning to deliver the standalone event from Three Rivers as a broadcast as well.
Airing these races not only provides activation for your team and your sponsors but also the commercial inventory now available and for sale. I encourage everyone involved within the Firestone Indy Lights Series program to work with Greg Gruning and Steve Margosian and their teams in depleting the available inventory as well as challenging them to create specific and individualized packages for your sponsors to support these efforts. Let's make this the beginning of what in 2012 represents a full and complete coverage of this series. I look forward to speaking with each of you while getting to know you and learning how we can help. Thank you for your time.
THE MODERATOR: Would you please welcome Mr. Terry Angstadt, president of commercial division.
TERRY AGNSTADT: We would now like to take a few minutes and inform you about the exciting new developments and plans for 2011 from the commercial side of IndyCar.
The commercial division represents sales, marketing both brand and event, PR, media relations, venue analysis, selection and management. You will hear directly from our young, talented and highly motivated team with a focus to make this business better.
Speaking of venues, we are very pleased to announce that Octane Management has reached an agreement with the City of Edmonton and we will race in that beautiful city as previously scheduled in July.
I would also like to mention that we sincerely feel like we have the best value in sports entertainment with tickets at most of our venues starting at $30.
Speaking of entertainment. We want to give you a preview of a new prerace, at-track concept that we'll be unveiling in the next few weeks. This has smoke and fire and elevators and you name it, but we really think it will be entertaining for the fans, a lot more video boards really focusing on enhancing the entertainment value as well as the experience at every one of our races.
Another quick, exciting announcement. Tomorrow we will launch of Indy 500 Centennial Tour with our events from Morale Entertainment. This group includes Mario Andretti, Al Unser Jr., Johnny Rutherford, Larry Foyt, Sarah Fisher, Davie Hamilton, Martin Plowman, Jack Arute, Ms. IZOD and the Indy Racing Experience two-seater team. We have the legends, the current and the future stars of the Indy 500. We will visit the Rahmstein medical facility bases in Iraq, Bahrain, Turkey, we'll be on an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf and a base in the UK. We are going to take 10 days thanking our troops firsthand for protecting our freedom.
I would also like to echo a comment Randy made earlier. As a former 500 Festival board member, I would like to encourage everyone to become more familiar with what that fantastic organization does for this city and the Indy 500. You can't imagine the month of May without a mini marathon, a princess program, kids days, educational programs, mayor's breakfast, the parade and the Snake Pit Ball, a fantastic organization.
Now you're going to hear a little bit more about our marketing plans from Kasey Coler (phonetic). Thank you very much.
THE MODERATOR: Please welcome to the stage, the director of marketing, Mr. Kasey Coler (phonetic):
KASEY COLER: Thank you. We'd like to start off 2011 with four very simple goals for IndyCar marketing. We need to increase our TV ratings. Two, we need to increase the number of people we have attending our events. Number three, we need to grow the Indy 500 and our other events. Number four, we need to grow IndyCar Nation. As a side note, IndyCar Nation is the official fan base of IndyCar. It's free to all fans. The second level is called Champion. This was formerly called Indy Downforce. We're excited about the opportunities we have for fans to experience certain aspects they never have in the past this year.
For this year, with those four simple goals, we need a stage that will help us attain the growth we expect from this great sport in 2011. Displayed is the block and tackling needed for this growth. IndyCar is a lifestyle and we must thank our title sponsor IZOD for bringing back into focus for our sport the momentum we recently experienced that can be directly attributed to the fact that the fastest, most versatile racecars and drivers in the world were reintroduced to pop culture and mainstream media. That exposure has allowed us to divide our marketing into two key segments, endemic and non-endemic. The non-endemic fan segment focuses on the casual sportsfans who consumes sports via mainstream media. These efforts will be led by our partners who speak to this consumer on a daily basis, IZOD, Verizon, Starwood Hotels, among others. The fact that our series will be racing in St. Petersburg, Florida, Long Beach, Sao Paulo and Baltimore, Maryland, will feature our product to the mainstream sports fan who typically does not travel to a racetrack outside of the city.
The second segment, this is where IndyCar marketing has placed a majority of the our focus for 2011, is the endemic segment of motorsports fans. There are three key groups we'll be attracting to IndyCar.
The first one is the grass-roots short track fan. For the past few years, we've heard from these fans. Once they were passionate IndyCar fans, but their biggest complaint has been that their drivers are not having an opportunity to drive in IndyCar. This year through our partnership with USAC, Bryan Clauson will be driving for Firestone Indy Lights Series. We will once again award scholarships to the 2011 USAC national drivers champion to compete in the 2012 Firestone Indy Lights Series season. Along with scholarships for our drivers, we have entered into a full marketing partnership with USAC for the purpose of making sure their fan base returning back to IndyCar. You'll see IndyCar having a much larger presence on the national USAC drivers tour as well as short tracks across the United States.
Number two, stock car and NASCAR fans. Current statistics say we have as high as a 70% crossover rate with NASCAR in terms of our fan base. We're working on a couple programs that we hope will take advantage of that crossover a and lead into higher TV ratings.
The third group is karting. There are currently over 30,000 karters across six sanctioning bodies. Our mission is to be as inclusive as possible to all karters and karting organizations with the goal being that all karters will have the top talent graduate into the Road to Indy ladder. But also, maybe more importantly, is connecting our sport and drivers to those karters that may not have the talent or desire to become a professional racecar driver but can become the next generation of IndyCar fans.
For next year, one initiative we're going to be taking is to host the top 10 karting drivers from each of the governing bodies right here in Indianapolis. Each driver will receive a full day of instruction from their appointed IZOD IndyCar Series driver. On top of the professional instruction from our drivers, these karters will get the opportunity to go behind the scenes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and learn not only why the Brickyard is so important to IndyCar racing but also the world of motorsports. This event will be taking place in late summer. We look to have a formal announcement here in the coming weeks with details for participation.
As we talk about karting being a piece to connect to that future fan of IndyCar, we're also proud to announce the starting this year of a garage area which will be open to ages nine and up at all events except Texas Motor Speedway. This is a huge step in allowing the future fans of IndyCar the opportunity to see the cars and stars up close.
We'll also debut a mobile stage in the garage area that allows fans the opportunity to learn more about the technical side of our sport. This stage will travel through the garage area with a host and actually feature tech talks. This stage is sure to be a fan favorite this year.
These are just a few of the key marketing initiatives we'll be introducing this year. Our focus is making sure that we keep the fans that have made this sport so great over the years, reaching out to the former fans that stepped away, and identifying those future fans and making sure we get them to our races and tuning into our TV for continued growth of the sport. Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: Please welcome Amy Konrath, Denise Abbott, and Steve Shunc, vice president of public relations.
AMY KONRATH: The IndyCar PR department is taking a new approach to how we handle our job this year with more aggressive tactics but in a much more focused manner. This year our goals are to garner exposure for the sport, create heroes out of our drivers, increase brand recognition, service the media, provide PR value for all of our partners, and tell everyone's compelling story. To do this we're going to take a three-pronged approach to how we tackle the media starting with the newest member of our team, Denise Abbott.
DENISE ABBOTT: I wanted to say hello. I've been working the sports and entertainment industry for about 16 years, most recently as the director of media relations and marketing for ASA Entertainment in Los Angeles, as well as heading the PR and marketing department for the professional bull riders for six and a half years.
While my responsibilities at IndyCar will be many, I will be primarily focused on working with our partners to tell the stories of our accomplishments and working with the drivers. I feel very fortunate and am very happy to be working for IndyCar at this exciting time and look forward to working with all of you for years to come.
AMY KONRATH: The second part of the equation is Steve Shunck, who is going to tackle things with us with the racing media.
STEVE SHUNCK (phonetic): I think we were introduced earlier as the younger staff. I'll age myself here. My first Indianapolis 500 was in 1973. Probably most of our field wasn't even born in 1973. I grew up in Whitehouse, Ohio. We used to get up at 4:00 in the morning, drive over to Indianapolis, come over for the 500.
The moral of the story is coming over to the Indianapolis 500, I used to memorize the starting lineup for the 500 every year. Mom said, Where is that ever going to get you? You need to memorize your spelling list. I guess it kind of paid off.
I'm usually on the other side of the camera working with the drivers trying to prompt them to say something great. I also do a lot with the photographers and the free-lance photographers that we have out there. One of the big things I'm trying to tackle and put my arms around is the great history of Indianapolis and IndyCar racing in combining all the record books. The records go back to 1905 and combine AAA, USAC, CART and IndyCar into one so we have unified records so when the ESPNs of the world or sports people want to have the definitive record, What does Dario Franchitti's record wins equal, that's the same as Jordan Johncock, Parnelli Jones, legends of the sport.
It's great to be up here and look forward to a great 2011 season and long beyond. With the centennial coming up for the Speedway, that's an important time to embrace our past and present.
AMY KONRATH: Just to recap quickly, I handle the overall strategy for the department, starting with the IZOD IndyCar Series through Firestone Indy Lights and the Mazda Road to Indy. I also serve as the point of contact to the sports media as we want our drivers to be positioned as world-class athletes. Between Steve, Denise and I, we will be responsible for advancing race markets starting several months in advance with planning all the way through to the final PR event after the race.
Some additional notes, we've also retained BZA PR out of Los Angeles which will help us. BZA has done a lot with professional sports throughout the U.S. and has done a lot of work, in fact, with the motorsports industry. We're very excited about what they bring to the table.
To give you a little quick preview of things to come, be sure to tune in Thursday morning to the CBS Early Show, FOX and Friends and wake up with Al Roker. As Terry mentioned, we're kicking off the Centennial Military Tour. We'll have drivers talking about this great trip.
I think the most important thing we want to stress to you guys is we are here to help, we are responsive, accountable and do what we can to grow this sport. We're looking forward to a great season with all of you.
THE MODERATOR: Now welcome vice president of sales, Mr. Greg Gruning.
GREG GRUNING: On behalf of the IZOD IndyCar Series sales team, as I reflect on 2010, I couldn't be more proud at the effort that was put forth. We were able to procure 14 new partners in 12 months and arguably one of the more challenging environments we've seen in some time. As a wise person once told me, You're only as good as your last sale. As we look at 2011, the slate starts at zero. But not to worry, we've got a plan.
There are three key areas of focus. The first is a renewed focus getting after team sales, revenue to where our race venues are, and getting after corporations. In doing that, I've tweaked the organization to better align to get after these goals. The first is Brian Zep (phonetic), who was director of client services and is now moving over to lead the team in race venue sales part of the organization. I'm excited about that. Aaron Godeny (phonetic) will remain in place. I know he's happy to hear that for corporate sales. The third key area is I promoted Mark Sibla (phonetic) to take over as director of client services.
I am confident with these three individuals we will meet or exceed our goals for 2011.
The second key area of focus for the sales team is going to be developing best of class client service organization. So Mark has his work cut out for him. The area that's so critical for client service and what we felt in 2009, 2010, and will feel in 2011, is primary purpose of that organization, to leverage the assets of the league with that of our partners. To do what? To create integrated marketing strategies. When successful it does two very important things for us. One, it generates a generous return on investment for our partners as well as raises the value of our brand, so we can get our brand out to areas that traditionally we haven't been seeing. That's a big win for all of us.
I reflect on one of the big successes in 2010 to demonstrate what the power of activation is. That's IZOD, our new title player for 2010. We were able to get billions of impressions through media, media defined as TV, radio, print, social media. We leveraged the assets of IZOD, the NFL. We leveraged the IZOD Center, Macy's.
What ended up happening when we measured it, we saw that one of our key demos of growth, the 25- to 34-year-old male demo grew exponentially. The brand awareness of IZOD came up tremendously year after year. All of it culminated into a 350% return on investment. God, that number just feels good saying. I'll say it again. A 350% return on investment in year one. You can imagine the excitement we look at what we develop what the strategies are going to be this year with IZOD as our title partner, let alone adding key partners, new partners, such as Verizon, Sonoco, Avis, the list goes on and on, as well as partners that have renewed. That's why we're so confident that 2011 will bring one of the best years yet for the IZOD IndyCar Series.
The third and final area of focus is the creation of a new department led by Phil Sparks. He has spent time putting together his team. I believe all three of them are here, Natalie, Ashley and Matt. We've created a department called the guest relations department. The sole purpose of that department is to delight our customers, delight our current partners as well as our potential partners.
I promise you, when successful, it makes my job in and out of the boardroom that much easier. So how is that going to be felt and touched throughout the season? This team will be solely looking at making sure the days running up to the race, the at-race experience and post-race experience second to none.
In closing, from a sales perspective, I couldn't be more confident and passionate and excited about what 2011 brings. We've got a phenomenal team. We've got the strategy in place and the prospects look extremely bright for an unbelievable 2011. Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: Welcome to the stage Mr. Jeff Belskus, president and ceo, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation.
JEFF BELSKUS: Thank you. As I look ahead to this incredible milestone of the hundredth anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 race, I'm in awe of what it means to me personally and everyone at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Normally when I use a Power Point presentation, I regard the title slide as a way to get started. This one carries an important message. We're still using our traditional tagline, The Greatest Spectacle in Racing, and nothing has changed in that regard for us. This year we are distinguishing this special race with a special tagline, The Most Important Race in History.
Our fans see it as the most important race in history. Companies and sponsors are recognizing it as the most important race in history, one of the most important media events in auto racing history. We're very pleased with the interest level that the hundredth anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 race is receiving.
At this time I'm going to introduce Mark Dill (phonetic), our vice president of marketing and public relations, to share with you some of those plans.
MARK DILL: I want to start by saying thank you to everyone here today for your interest in our sport and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
I know this first slide looks awfully busy. It's cram packed with a lot of information. Trust me, I won't walk you through every bullet point. The point I wanted to make here is we have a month of May that is full of activities that we think are very exciting. This stuff doesn't even include all the wonderful things that the 500 Festival organization is putting on.
But I do want to make the point that what we're doing to assemble these activities is listening a lot to our fans. We are bringing the voice of the customer into our office at 16th and Georgetown. We've had focus groups. We've done a lot of outreach through online networking and social networking.
Some of the things they're telling us, for example, we know they love their heroes, the drivers who have competed in the Indianapolis 500. To answer and respond to that, one of the things we're doing is we're inviting every living veteran, there are 269 of them, back to the Speedway for the hundredth anniversary of the Indianapolis 500. We will stage the day before the race, among many things that day, the world's largest autograph session. I know our fans are going to eat it up.
We also are going to stage, and I can't go into the details right now, but it's going to be the most impactful and unique military fly-over that has ever occurred at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. That's something to look forward to. We know our fans are a patriotic lot, so they'll love that.
We also want to surprise and delight. One example is with our partner Matell, we are going to stage the most powerful and mind-boggling stunt ever performed at an auto racing facility. Stay tuned.
This slide is a lot of logos we've created to give some brand equity to the events that you saw in the previous slide. I'm bringing several of these to the surface. I want to start with our emerging tech day because that's the first event of the month of May. That's actually occurring on May 7th. We're very excited about that. That's an outreach and part of a kickoff that we're doing to address the emerging trend of sustainable and green technology. At the core of that, we are going to stage three alternative power auto races: electric, solar and hybrid. We're going to be involved with 50 universities in pulling off that event.
We have also three great sponsors for that event, Allison, Indianapolis Power & light and Duke Energy. They're going to take a high profile. On opening day, we are going to be presenting our celebration of automobiles. That's going to look a lot like a (indiscernible). What we're going to have are 250 classic automobiles. But what's really neat for the first time ever we are going to stage an exhibition, one of the classifications will be the 24 manufacturers of the first Indy 500. That's going to be exciting and something our fans have asked for.
In March we're going to launch something called ourgreatest33.com website. That's a neat thing because it's going to have a lot of content and activity. At the core of that, we're going to enable our fans to vote for the drivers that they feel are the 33 greatest drivers that ever competed in the Indy 500. That will come from a list of 100 drivers nominated by the members of the media and other experts. I know our fans are going to have a lot of fun with that.
We've also branded our Snake Pit. We're actually creating a platform we can take out to college towns, near universities, engage a younger demographic, which is a key part of our marketing thrust.
Another thing our core fans are going to love is we're going to have as many as 70 of the 74 surviving cars that have won the Indianapolis 500 at our Hall of Fame Museum. That's really exciting. I know there will be a lot of interest in that.
We're also doing a lot of neat work with 15-time Grammy award winning musician David Foster. David is presenting a sweepstakes as part of a national tour. He's going to launch it in Los Angeles, be on the Jay Leno show, hitting a lot of markets where we know we have the greatest number of fans across the country. The sweepstakes is all about winning a 2011 Indy 500 pace car. The proceeds will go to David's foundation which is to help families that are struggling through the process of organ donation with one of their family members.
Finally in a couple of weeks we're going to be launching what we're calling our Back Home Again in Indiana Campaign. That's reengaging with communities across the state, getting them excited about decorating their communities for the Indy 500. Those that demonstrate the greatest creativity and originality are going to be in competition for a $25,000 grand prize. That was the size of the purse of the first Indy 500, incidentally.
Next thing I wanted to touch on is our promotional outreach. We've already got that underway. A lot of neat things are already happening. We're doing it on a global, national, regional and local scale. Some of the highlights include, you want to be on the lookout for this, we're excited, Sports Illustrated is going to do a commemorative issue completely dedicated to the hundredth anniversary of the Indy 500. We're going to be starting our national ad campaign in a couple of weeks. I'm sure some of you have seen the features they're running in Road and Track Magazine, Racer Magazine, other publications. The media has really picked up on it. Last month I'm sure you noticed that we had, with the United States Postal Service, an announcement around a commemorative stamp. That's what you see pictured here, with Marmon Wasp, the winner of the first Indianapolis 500.
Before I wrap up, I wanted to note for you that everything we are doing is being driven by a promotional strategy. It includes five pillars. All of these fit within the context of the activities that I just laid out to you, but also we're doing similar activities for our Brickyard 400, our Moto GP races. The five pillars around this strategy are the attraction of new fans, the satisfaction of core fans, the overall fan experience, cause marketing, and sustainability. We know that we need to develop new fans, that next generation of fans. We need to reach out to younger fans and develop them. But we also need to appeal to minority groups. Almost 40% of the Indianapolis population comes from Hispanic and African American demographics. We need to be more welcoming at the Speedway with those groups. We have programs in place. For example, for the first time ever, we're going to do a local radio broadcast with WEDJ Spanish-language broadcast. Those that prefer their race information delivered in that language can come out, get a headset, wire in, and really enjoy the Indianapolis 500.
I mentioned our outreach with the Snake Pit platform. Also we announced earlier this year a kids club. That's targeted at the young kids that are out there, young families. We're doing some agreements and programs with institutions like the Children's Museum.
Also for our core fan, I want to stress we are really listening, we're inviting inside, we're bringing people literally into our offices. That is driving a lot of the programming that I've been talking about.
As far as the fan experience, it's all about our entertainment value, convenience and creating value. I'll give you a few examples. For example, with respect to convenience, we are going to launch for the first time print-at-home tickets. That's something we think will be particularly important as buying patterns change. We're going to make it easy for people to come to the Indy 500. We also have for our core fans an Indy 500 Fan Reward Program. We want to reward those fans that have been with us the longest and those that are purchasing the greatest number of tickets.
Finally, here is the message I would like everybody in this room to take out and communicate. We all know the economy is in tough times right now. We're reaching out to families. We are for the first time making 12 and under, children 12 and under, free for general admission when they're accompanied by an adult. We think we're going to have a great response.
I mentioned cause marketing. That's also something very important. What we're doing with that that is consistent with our outreach to youth is that we want to focus the cause marketing around the betterment of children. But more importantly, it's simply the right thing to do. Think about health and welfare, education and outreach to underprivileged youth. We want to do what we can to make a difference.
The other thing we're mentioning on is the green and sustainability movement. There's going to be a lot of exciting announcements of the tech day coming up in the coming weeks.
In closing, I want to give you all something. I want to make you the first folks outside of our company to be able to see one of four brand spots. These are video brand spots we will use on the web and in television commercials as part of our promotional campaign around the hundredth anniversary of the Indy 500. This happens to be a personal favorite of mine and talks about the importance of bricks to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I hope you enjoy.
THE MODERATOR: Welcome back to the stage Jeff Belskus and Randy Bernard.
JEFF BELSKUS: Thank you. The momentum that our sport of IndyCar racing has built over the last year is very encouraging. The success of the IndyCar Series is important to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the relationship between IndyCar and IMS couldn't be better. We have our collective visions in sync and we're looking optimistically to the future. We've accomplished many good things over this past year and the leadership of both organizations are communicating well with one another and complementing each other at every level.
There are many examples of the successes we've had over the last year. A great example is this morning's example of opening an entertainment office in Los Angeles, California. It's an important market for growth and for the branding of both the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the IndyCar brand.
RANDY BERNARD: Jeff, we're excited about this. First of all, we hired our senior vice president Sarah Day. Sarah had nine years of experience as managing director of the NASCAR entertainment office in L.A. She also was executive producer of Talladega Nights and NASCAR 3D amongst many other films. Why would we get Sarah? We want somebody with motorsports experience. Very important to us. We also want to welcome here today Greg Barker and John Beach. Both of them have over 10 years of experience in the media world, one coming from NASCAR and one from an agency. We think we'll have a great office out there that will deliver a tremendous amount of assets to us to share with you to all of our drivers or creating heroes.
The last thing, if it's okay, I'd like to talk about is we always introduce the Hulman-George family board members. I think it's important that there's another generation, ones that work every single day right along with us, 8 to 5, that never want any recognition. I think it's time for everyone else to meet the next generation because they will be the ones that will take over and take IndyCar and IMS to the next level.
JEFF BELSKUS: Exactly right. I think they're generation six of the Hulman family. We have Kyle Krisiloff with us here today, Tony George Jr. with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway we have Jessica Gunter, and last but not least our director of corporate partnerships Gerald Krisiloff who I don't happen to see at the moment.
RANDY BERNARD: There's our hour and a half. I hope it was compelling for you. I hope you learned something. Today was about learning the marketing and business strategy of IndyCar for 2011. We promise you we will work hard, be responsive, we will listen and communicate.
Thank you so much for attending.