Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines:
1. Servia seeks to make noise at Toronto
2. Andretti Autosport promotes social media with @FollowAndretti car
3. Ortsbo.com partners with INDYCAR as official online translator service provider.
4. AFS Racing, Sam Schmidt Motorsports partner for seven IZOD IndyCar races
1. Servia seeks to make noise at Toronto: Oriol Servia has vaulted to fourth in the IZOD IndyCar Series standings compliments of top-10 finishes in the initial set of four road/street course races and top 10s (including a series career-high third at Milwaukee) on two ovals.
To get noticed in the championship chase, though, the driver of the No. 2 Telemundo Newman/Haas Racing entry says he has to win. Period.
"We have been knocking consistently at door for victory since Long Beach," said Servia, who enters the Honda Indy Toronto 89 points behind championship front-runner Dario Franchitti. "We are getting closer and closer but we still need to improve in some areas. The team has a tremendous record on the Toronto streets and I've had my share of good races, too.
"I have led the race many times (in 2005, '06 and '07 for a total of 58 laps) but never on the last lap, so my hope is that we can do that together this time."
Newman/Haas Racing has produced seven victories, 16 podium finishes and five pole starts in the Toronto event, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Servia, who will compete in his eighth race on the 1.755-mile Exhibition Place circuit, has a best finish of second (started fourth) in '05 with Newman/Haas Racing (the race won by Justin Wilson).
"I have led this race on many occasions and thought that the race was mine and experience showed me that, especially in a street race like this one, you never know what can happen until the last lap," said Servia, who has four top-10 finishes in Toronto. "I have been leading and just when I got to Turn 3 it started raining hard and I crashed while having dry tires on.
"In 2006, I was leading comfortably and was taken out in the Turn 3 braking area. As they say, 'practice makes perfect' and it takes a lot of practice at leading to end up winning and then it takes a lot of practice at winning to become good at winning. We are getting there.
"We have shown that yes we do have a car and team to be leading the race to the checkered flag but in no way is it a given. It will take a perfect weekend for us to be contenders but it is in our hands and nobody else's to achieve it."
The 11-turn, bumpy circuit, which will be clogged with 26 entries, also demands a "perfect" car to qualify up front and remain there throughout the 85-lap race.
"It actually requires a complex car setup," Servia said. "It has one of the longest straights of the championship, where obviously you want to be fast at so you want to take downforce off the car but then the hard braking areas and the slippery concrete areas at the apex of the corners ask for maximum grip and downforce."
Winning in Toronto certainly would benefit his championship aspirations (he finished second to Sebastien Bourdais in the 2005 Champ Car World Series standings), and it would strengthen his links with the city.
"My first time in Toronto was in 1998 for the Indy Lights races," said Servia, who won the '99 title. "Right away, I fell in love with the atmosphere and people in the city. It is one of those races that you don't mind coming early or staying longer after the race. Actually it happened like that in 2004. I stayed for a few extra days and ended up buying a condo downtown."
2. Andretti Autosport promotes social media with @FollowAndretti car: Andretti Autosport will combine the speed of IZOD IndyCar Series racing and the real-time engagement of social media with the #27 Team @FollowAndretti car, driven by Mike Conway, at the Honda Indy Toronto and Edmonton Indy races on July 10 and July 24.
Featuring the team's Twitter handle @FollowAndretti, the car is a first in the series to prominently invite fans to interact with team drivers, strategists and crew on and off the track via Twitter.
"In a sport like Indy car racing, speed is more important than anything-it's what we live for," team owner Michael Andretti, who is a twitter user himself @michaelandretti. "But away from the track, speed is important too. Twitter gives me and the team an outlet to talk directly to fans in real time, which really wasn't possible even just a few years ago. It's made a huge difference in how Andretti Autosport and our drivers can connect to fans and sponsors, and I think partnering with ExactTarget has put us in the position to do even more."
Powered by global interactive marketing provider ExactTarget, an associate sponsor of Andretti Autosport, the interactive marketing campaign offers fans the opportunity to receive exclusive content on Twitter and allows for real-time interactions from the team before, during and after the race. The effort also invites fans to register for email alerts and trackside update emails featuring exclusive videos, including interviews with drivers, team owner Michael Andretti and crew members.
"Social media provides a unique opportunity for brands to interact with consumers in real time and deliver personal interactions that build loyalty and ultimately drive sales," said Tim Kopp (@TBKopp), the chief marketing officer for ExactTarget. "The Andretti family is legendary for their innovation on the track, and once again they are breaking new ground by engaging fans in real time through a new cross-channel marketing campaign that offers fans engagement on Twitter and e-mail."
3. Ortsbo.com partners with INDYCAR as official online translator service provider: Ortsbo.com, the real-time social media experiential translation platform, and INDYCAR announced today a multi-year partnership that makes Ortsbo.com the "Official Online Translator Service Provider" for INDYCAR and the IZOD IndyCar Series.
The official kick off of the partnership, which will allow INDYCAR's teams, car and driver sponsors, and fans all over the world to keep pace with the premier open-wheel racing events, will be at the Honda Indy Toronto event this Saturday, July 10, in Toronto, Ontario, where Ortsbo is headquartered.
Ortsbo enables real-time conversational translation in more than 50 languages and seamlessly integrates with today's most popular social media platforms; translates e-mails on the fly with O4O (Ortsbo for Outlook) and connects with PC and Mac computers, mobile browsers and major search engine platforms.
Through Ortsbo, IZOD IndyCar Series enthusiasts around the world will be able to follow every twist and turn of the action-packed racing series and connect with their favorite drivers in their native languages.
"We look upon our relationship with Ortsbo as more than just a sponsorship," said INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard, "It's a true partnership that will help us expose Indy car racing to people around the world by breaking the language barrier between the fans and their favorite drivers. It will truly connect and engage all sides of the INDYCAR community,"
Transcripts of press conferences will be made available in multiple languages for distribution to the media, indycar.com and social media sites and may include drivers such as 2010 series champion Dario Franchitti, Marco Andretti, Danica Patrick and others.
Ortsbo also will host online INDYCAR Live and Global Events, similar to recent, world-record breaking Live and Global events with KISS band members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley and NBA MVP Steve Nash. These question and answer sessions between IZOD IndyCar Series drivers and fans will be made available in up to 53 languages.
In addition, Ortsbo will provide O4O (Ortsbo for Outlook) services to INDYCAR. Ortsbo for Outlook is a seamless add-on for Microsoft Outlook™ that automatically translates e-mails without any copying or pasting. INDYCAR's official website (www.indycar.com) also will be translated into three languages - Portugeuse, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese.
"Racing fans from all over the globe can now interact with some of the world's best drivers in a way they haven't been able to before," said David Lucatch, president of Ortsbo. "Ortsbo translates text automatically, eliminating the typically tedious and inefficient translation process of other services."
Ortsbo, the free, real-time chat translator, integrates with 13 of the most popular social media platforms, including Windows Live Messenger, Facebook, Google Talk, Yahoo! Messenger, iChat and AIM to allow users to instantly send and receive messages in 53 languages.
4. AFS Racing, Sam Schmidt Motorsports partner for seven IZOD IndyCar races: Team owners Sam Schmidt and Gary Peterson have competed in Firestone Indy Lights since its inception. Now they'll partner for an IZOD IndyCar Series entry in seven races, beginning with the Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Aug. 7.
"This is a fantastic win-win for both AFS Racing and Sam Schmidt Motorsports," said Schmidt, who fields the No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins full-season entry with driver Alex Tagliani. "In our pursuit to develop partnerships and relationships to enable the team to compete with two full-time entries in the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2012, we have secured sponsorship for select races starting with Mid-Ohio, but we didn't have the equipment or personnel to facilitate the program. Obviously, Gary Peterson and AFS Racing did."
The No. 17 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc., car with Raphael Matos behind the wheel competed in the first four events of the season. He had a best finish of seventh in the season opener on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. Schmidt said the driver for the remainder of the season will be announced later.
AFS Racing won two consecutive Firestone Indy Lights championships (in 2008 with Matos). Peterson partnered with Andretti Autosport in 2010 to enter two IZOD IndyCar Series races, and announced his intentions to compete in the series for 2011.
"It will be fun to race with Sam and his team instead of against them for a change," Peterson said. "What is that old saying? If you can't beat them, join them. Sam and I have had a long, competitive relationship as the two top Firestone Indy Lights teams. We're both former drivers and team owners, so we can relate to each other. One of Sam's best qualities, which I share, is his passion to win and succeed.
"AFS Racing is known for having some of the best equipment on the track, and I believe we've gathered together a good crew for our IndyCar venture. This arrangement with SSM is beneficial for both teams. It will allow us to share personnel, technical advice, overhead costs, etc. It puts us both where we want to be in anticipation of the new cars being released for the 2012 season."
The 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season continues with the Honda Indy Toronto on July 10 at Streets of Toronto. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 2 p.m. (ET) by VERSUS. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, SiriusXM channel 94 and www.indycar.com. The 2011 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Toronto 100 at Streets of Toronto on July 10. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at Noon. (ET) by VERSUS.