INDY RACING LEAGUEÂ® GREEN FLAG TOUR RACES TO THE FINISH LINE AFTER STOPS IN 13 CITIES NATIONWIDE INDIANAPOLIS, March 6, 2005 -- After traveling more than 7,800 miles criss-crossing the country to bring the excitement of IRL IndyCarÂ® Series ...
INDY RACING LEAGUE® GREEN FLAG TOUR RACES TO THE FINISH LINE AFTER STOPS IN 13 CITIES NATIONWIDE
INDIANAPOLIS, March 6, 2005 -- After traveling more than 7,800 miles criss-crossing the country to bring the excitement of IRL IndyCar® Series racing to fans new and old alike, the Indy Racing League® today concluded its tremendously successful inaugural "Green Flag Tour." Tens of thousands of IndyCar racing fans witnessed the "Green Flag Tour" which began Feb. 21 in Indianapolis and made 13 city stops in 14 days. The tour crossed the finish line in Miami today just in time for the season-opening Toyota Indy 300 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. The Green Flag Tour visited nine of the country's top-10 markets, including 10 cities that host IndyCar Series racing. After a strong start in Indianapolis, the Green Flag Tour powered forward to Denver, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Dallas, Chicago, Detroit, New York City, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, St. Petersburg, Fla., and Miami.
"There's nothing more exciting than seeing someone experience IndyCar Series racing for the first time, and with the Green Flag Tour, we were able to introduce thousands of people to our sport," said Brian Barnhart, president and chief operating officer of the IRL. "The Green Flag Tour was a success in every respect, and I hope it becomes a new tradition, helping us launch the season every year with fan interaction and education."
Some of the highlights of the Green Flag Tour include:
* Hanging out with the world-famous Laker Girls in Los Angeles
* Showing elementary school children in the San Francisco Bay area the official "Green Flag Wave"
* Turning heads while parked in downtown Denver during rush-hour traffic
* Surprising 7-Eleven customers during refueling stops in just about every city
* Challenging IRL driver Tomas Scheckter of Panther Racing in a go-kart battle in Detroit
* Getting stopped by truck drivers in Oklahoma who heard about the Green Flag Tour on the radio and wanted a peek at the two-seater
Several drivers and racing personalities came out to help the Green Flag Tour spread the word about the thrills and sportsmanship found in IndyCar Series racing. Participants included 1996 IRL IndyCar Series co-champion Scott Sharp; Alex Barron and Patrick Carpentier of Red Bull Cheever Racing; team co-owner Michael Andretti and drivers Dario Franchitti, and Bryan Herta of Andretti Green Racing; three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Johnny Rutherford and driver A.J. Foyt IV of A.J. Foyt Racing; Scott Dixon, Darren Manning and Ryan Briscoe of Chip Ganassi Racing; driver Tomas Scheckter of Panther Racing and Danica Patrick and Buddy Rice of Rahal Letterman Racing.
In addition, sports TV and radio personality Jack Arute traveled with the Green Flag Tour, reporting on its progress along the way. Arute is ABC sports' top pit reporter and has been a member of the network's Indianapolis 500 broadcast team since 1984.
The Chevy SSR safety vehicle also was a popular attraction during the tour. The Chevy SSR will serve as the official pace vehicle for all 2005 IRL IndyCar Series events, marking the second-consecutive season that a truck-based Chevrolet will lead the charge to the green flag.
"We couldn't have made the Green Flag Tour a reality without the help of our sponsors and drivers, but especially without the amazing support of our fans nationwide," said Ken Ungar, senior vice president, business affairs for the IRL. "Not only did we raise awareness -- and definitely a few eyebrows -- with the branded multi-vehicle Green Flag Tour caravan, but we also connected with the fans in a truly unique way that makes me proud to be part of this sport."
Jack Arute added, "This tour was part Olympic Torch Relay and part Cannonball Run with a little Blues Brothers thrown in the mix. We were on a pedal-to-the-metal mission to get the Green Flag to Miami and couldn't possibly have had more fun spreading the Indy Racing spirit straight from the road."
Sponsors of the Green Flag Tour include Chevrolet, Honda, Toyota, Target, Jim Beam, Delphi, Firestone, Pennzoil, 7-Eleven, Pioneer and TAG Heuer.
The IndyCar Series Green Flag Tour was managed by Ignition, Inc., an Atlanta-based company that is known for creating unforgettable branded experiences through experiential marketing, strategic marketing and marketing innovations to help make lasting, emotional consumer connections around the world. Ignition, Inc. has managed the IndyCar Series Fan Experience since its inception in 2003.
The 2005 IndyCar Series season begins with the March 6 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway and concludes on Oct. 16. The season includes 17 races in the United States and Japan, including the greatest spectacle in racing, the Indianapolis 500. The series, which is known for its hallmark, wheel-to-wheel excitement at speeds of up to 220 miles per hour, debuts its all-out competition on street and road events later this year with three brand new events on its schedule.