By: Tanner Watkins
January 14, 2019 | 9:30 AM
This morning the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) kicked off in Detroit with two weeks’ worth of car reveals, announcements and displays on-hand for fans and professionals to take in.
Among those announcements scheduled for this year’s show is tomorrow’s “major announcement” made public by INDYCAR last week. The press conference will take place at 12:15 PM ET on Tuesday, to be held at the Atrium Stage in the Cobo Center.
With the most important executives in INDYCAR on hand – including Hulman & company president and CEO Mark Miles as well as Jay Frye, the president of INDYCAR – it is widely expected that the sanctioning body will announce the next title sponsor for the IndyCar Series. This comes after Verizon ended its five-year partnership in December.
Last week, INDYCAR called a press conference at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to announce television listings for the 2019 season. The announcement also allowed Scott Dixon and Alexander Rossi, last season’s top two championship finishers, to speak on the enthusiasm surrounding NBC’s 2019 plans and the future of INDYCAR as a whole.
Moving to Detroit this week, the offseason’s carefully-planned press conference schedule aims to keep that level of excitement up until cars are back on track again.
In recent memory, the North American International Auto Show has served as a showcase event for INDYCAR. The series unveiled its concepts for a new aero kit at the show back in
What is different, though, from the announcement made in 2017 is the feeling around INDYCAR at this particular moment. Two years ago the series was only marginally beginning an ascent towards greater things, hanging their hat on the historic 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 at the time.
Fast forward to present day and the series truly has a head of steam moving in the right direction.
Since 2017, INDYCAR has introduced a brand new aero kit, increased entries at all events (including the Indianapolis 500) and now has a willing and able television partner on board to boost the series’ reach. They have brought back traditional open-wheel tracks like Portland International Raceway and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca while making a monster out of August’s night race at Gateway Motorsports Park.
Even an international race in Australia seems more likely than unlikely at this point. Who could have predicted that two years ago?
The expected title sponsor announcement on Tuesday marks just another step in the right direction for North America’s premier open-wheel racing discipline. As our friend Adam Stern has reported, INDYCAR has been in advanced talks with NTT Data, the same Japanese telecommunications company that has backed Chip Ganassi Racing since 2013.
All of these positives come in an era where its hard to find progress in auto racing. NASCAR made headlines in the wrong way last week by laying off 50 to 100 employees while Formula One’s CEO Chase Carey – which is supposed to be working on F1’s growth in America – can’t tell the difference between Talladega and Tuscaloosa.
INDYCAR fans should be thankful for the progress made, however minimal, in this difficult environment. Sure, things aren’t the same as they were in the early 1990s, but we still have it pretty good at the moment.
On Tuesday a live stream of the festivities will be available via IndyCar.com courtesy of the NAIAS webpage. Along with Frye and Miles, additional INDYCAR drivers and team representatives will be on hand to ring in the announcement.
Open-Wheels will offer full coverage of the event throughout the day, so stay tuned to our social media channels for more information.
Header image by Joe Skibinski/INDYCAR.