Andretti Sports Marketing will be promoting the NOLA round, but what else does Michael Andretti have in store for 2015?
Michael Andretti wears many hats in the Verizon IndyCar Series. He’s the owner of Andretti Autosport, he owns Andretti Sports Marketing (ASM) and he’s Marco Andretti’s father. At any IndyCar race weekend he has a lot of things on his plate, especially if his Mazda Road to Indy teams are competing at the same race weekend as his IndyCar team is.
However, promoting a race in a very new market for racing is something he’s prepared to do and has been on his radar for a long time. Andretti Sports Marketing has taken up the challenge and will be the promoter for the Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana on April 10-12, 2015. The idea for the race came about years ago, as Andretti tells Motorsport.com.
“Over two years ago I think is when the idea started with Starke Taylor [EVP, CMO of ASM] and Laney Chouest [owner of NOLA Motorsports Park], when they talked and that’s where it started. We just started the process of getting together and figuring out how do we attack it, Laney had to attack it from the standpoint of trying to go get funding from the state, and we had to go and start talking to IndyCar and try to get them interested and showing them how this could be such a great event for the schedule and things like that,” Andretti said.
Needs sponsorship to get off the ground
However, one thing that any event needs is sponsorship. Andretti was very upbeat about interest from sponsors, especially local businesses.
“It’s been really good, […] I think you’re going to be seeing a lot of announcements in the future of local companies coming out and supporting it. I think it’s going to be surprising when you see it in the end how many companies are going to come out and support it because they know how good it is for the state of Louisiana and New Orleans to have this event and I think they understand it and they’re going to come out and support it,” Andretti said.
Another thing that is helping Andretti is that New Orleans is a brand new market for major racing events to take place in. The 2013 ROTAX World Karting final was held at NOLA Motorsports Park as was the 2012 AMA Pro Road Racing season-ending race, but most of the racing at the track has been regional races until IndyCar will be visiting. Sponsors will be taking note, as Andretti explains.
“Well that helped, for sure. It’s a new market, which is always great, and it’s a great market, it’s a destination market, it’s one where our sponsors are very excited about to come in and bring in their customers and what not to entertain, I mean it’s a party town, y’know, and this is what this is going to be. This is going to be an event, it’s not going to be just a race, there’s going to be a lot of partying I’m sure here and that’s what it’s about. It’s going to be great for everyone involved,” Andretti said.
Gaining local interest has been a key focus, considering that in Louisiana, football is king. However, Andretti was at the LSU-Alabama game in Baton Rouge on Saturday while the next day he attended the Saints-49ers game in New Orleans. He was pleased about the interest shown at both venues.
“I was really surprised. We had a booth at both places and I was pleasantly surprised how much interest there was and questions about it and when it’s going to happen and all that. I thought that was really good,” Andretti said.
Road to Indy, how many cars will he field?
A new event isn’t the only thing on his plate for 2015. Andretti has yet to finalize his lineup in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires or in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires championship.
“We’re getting close, I think we’re going to have two cars in [Pro Mazda] and we’ve gotten one and hopefully two for Indy Lights as well. We were worried that we weren’t going to be able to get a program together but it looks like we are and I’m really happy to say that we’re going to be in [Indy Lights] again for the future.
His driver lineup will change, but he would like to run with Matthew Brabham again.
“I would love to do that, we’re working on that right now,” Andretti said.
As for 2014 Indy Lights title contender Zach Veach, Andretti indicated what 2015 could hold in store for Veach.
“Zach doesn’t want to do [Indy Lights], he wants to do IndyCar so we’re working on some programs there that maybe will get him in an IndyCar in the future.”