IRL: Indy Racing, ABC and ESPN extend contract

INDIANAPOLIS, Sunday, Sept. 2, 2001 - The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indy Racing League, ABC and ESPN, Inc. have agreed to terms that would extend and expand their partnership through 2007, it was announced today. Under terms of the ...

INDIANAPOLIS, Sunday, Sept. 2, 2001 - The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indy Racing League, ABC and ESPN, Inc. have agreed to terms that would extend and expand their partnership through 2007, it was announced today.

Under terms of the agreement, the three partners are committed to telecast and promote the Indy Racing League as their exclusive American open-wheel racing series for the term of the contract. "Our 36-year partnership with ABC Sports is one of the great traditions of the Indianapolis 500," said Tony George, president and CEO of both the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indy Racing League. "The combination of ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 gives us the best broadcasting and cable platform in American television to carry America's premier open-wheel, oval-track series.

"We are proud to be energetic partners with ABC and the ESPN networks in bringing our exciting brand of Indy Racing to the broadest and most extensive audience in American open-wheel racing."

"Growing the relationship between ABC Sports and the Indianapolis 500 has always been one of our top priorities, and we have been very pleased with the growth of the event under the current contract," said Howard Katz, president of ABC Sports. "We are excited about the potential of growing the Indy Racing League, and this arrangement gives us the ability to put in place long-term strategies that will help to grow both the League and the 500."

"The Indy Racing League is the leading American open-wheel racing circuit, based upon the heritage of the Indianapolis 500," said Mark Shapiro, senior vice president and general manager of ESPN Programming. "ESPN has chosen to partner with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indy Racing League as the future of open-wheel racing in the United States." The new agreement will include more live coverage from Indy Racing League events, including daily programming originating from Indianapolis by ESPN2's "RPM 2Night" during May for the Indianapolis 500 and similar origination programming from several Indy Racing events each year.

"It is very important to the growth of our sport to have more television news reporting of the Indy Racing League, and I am grateful to the ESPN networks for making this commitment," George said. ABC Sports has televised the Indianapolis 500, the premier event of the 14-race Indy Racing League, since 1965 and live since 1986. Indy Racing League events have been seen on ABC and the ESPN networks since the League debuted in 1996. ESPN has televised Indianapolis 500 qualifying since 1987 and ESPN2 joined the coverage in 1996. In 1999, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indy Racing League, ABC Sports and the ESPN networks entered into a five-year agreement to run through the 2004 season.

The Indy Racing League, now in its sixth season, is America's premier open-wheel racing series. It was founded in 1994 by George to promote the American tradition of open-wheel, oval-track racing and to preserve the affordability and accessibility of the sport to all drivers.

ESPN, Inc., The Worldwide Leader In Sports, is a multinational, multimedia sports entertainment company, comprised of six domestic television networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS, ESPN Today, ESPN Now). ESPN, seen in more than 84 million homes, and ESPN2, seen in more than 80 million homes, combine to provide extensive coverage of Indy Racing League, National Hot Rod Association and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series events. ESPN2's "RPM 2Night" serves as the race fan's only daily source for motorsports news, analysis, highlights and features. ESPN Classic, seen in more than 41 million homes, showcases classic Indy 500, NASCAR and IROC races. ESPNEWS, seen in more than 25 million homes, is the nation's only 24-hour sports news network.

ABC Sports has been the broadcast home of the Indianapolis 500 since 1965 and the Indy Racing League since it debuted in 1996.

-IRNLS/IMS-

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About this article
Series Automotive , IndyCar
Drivers Howard Katz , Tony George
Tags TV