COORS' BACKING PUTS GROWTH ON TAP FOR USAC'S TOP SERIES IN 1999 LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Jan. 18, 1999 -- When the United States Auto Club rolls into the Walt Disney World Speedway for its portion of the Transworld Diversified Services...
COORS' BACKING PUTS GROWTH ON TAP FOR USAC'S TOP SERIES IN 1999
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Jan. 18, 1999 -- When the United States Auto Club rolls into the Walt Disney World Speedway for its portion of the Transworld Diversified Services Indy 200 weekend, it will sport a new name for its premier series and look to impress an important new fan. The USAC Silver Crown Series, a perennial fan favorite for its unpredictable races, tight point battles and the nostalgic appearance of the cars, will debut its new title--the "Coors Light Silver Bullet Series"--at the season opener Jan. 23. In addition, the Field Marketing Director for Coors, Dennis Maple, will experience his first USAC event. "I'm really looking forward to the first race at Orlando and the beginning of our relationship with USAC," Maple said. The Coors Brewing Company, already an established sponsor in auto racing, made a major move in October to strengthen its commitment to open-wheel racing by announcing a significantly increased presence in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League and the partnership with USAC. The move involved Coors Light becoming the first official beer of the Pep Boys Indy Racing League, Coors' continued sponsorship of Carburetion Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway along with the popular pit stop competition and sponsorship of the Hemelgarn Indy Racing League team. So how does USAC fit into the plan? "The consumers at the USAC and IRL events are our target audience," Maple said. "The Coors Light Silver Bullet Series offers us a unique opportunity to reach those fans and to further link ourselves with the fastest growing sport in America. The USAC involvement also supports our entire racing program by allowing us to target local markets while we are also linked with the biggest event, the Indianapolis 500." The "link" between the Indianapolis 500 and USAC is not just a function of fan demographics, where USAC fans almost match Indianapolis 500 fans perfectly. The Pep Boys Indy Racing League has already provided several USAC drivers an opportunity to move up. Last January Brian Tyler won his first Silver Crown race at the Walt Disney World Speedway and went on to make his Pep Boys Indy Racing League debut a week later. This year, young Coors Light Silver Bullet champ Jason Leffler is set to make his debut with Treadway Racing at Disney. While Dennis Maple and his colleagues at the Coors Brewing Company are working to leverage their sponsorship programs to sell more product, new optimism brews at USAC. The series has experienced significant growth recently, despite the lack of a title sponsor for the past two seasons. USAC now hopes to capitalize on Coors' support to take this established series to an unprecedented level of national attention and popularity. In 1998, the series expanded to a record 13 races, with seven events enjoying national television exposure, another series record. The expansion into new markets, such as Orlando and Denver, has allowed the series to fill key gaps in its national presence. The optimism flows from the expectation that if the series can exhibit that kind of growth without the advantage of a major sponsor, the success with Coors Light should be even greater. "The United States Auto Club is excited about working with Coors, USAC President John Capels said. "Their track record in sports marketing makes them one of the best organizations to work with. The series has experienced tremendous growth recently, visiting new market areas and attracting some of the best driving talent and fans in the country. We believe Coors is coming on board at a perfect time, and that this partnership will produce accelerated growth for the series." USAC traditionalists will also note another significant aspect of the partnership with Coors Light. The series' name change marks the first time that "silver crown" will not appear in the title since the term was created in 1981 to refer to the championship dirt car series. There also may be no better place to debut the new name and look of the Coors Light Silver Bullet Series than the Walt Disney World Speedway. The unique, 1-mile tri-oval was the site of the inaugural Indy Racing League event in 1996 and the site of Pep Boys' debut as the Indy Racing League title sponsor just last year.