By: Tanner Watkins
January 15, 2019 | 1:00 PM
While the cat has been out of the bag for a while now, INDYCAR’s recently-announced title sponsorship with Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) is no less important.
By snagging Japan’s equivalent of Verizon, the previous IndyCar Series title partner, Hulman & Company president and CEO Mark Miles has more than enough reasons to be pleased with today’s announcement. During today’s unveil at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Miles spoke on the fast-paced negotiations between INDYCAR and NTT.
“We started talking about this possibility not very long ago, near the end of the championship I think in early September, and in no time at all, led by Jay Frye on our team and Mark Sibla, who engaged directly with NTT Data, soon we were invited to Tokyo,” said Miles earlier today.
“(In Tokyo) we had a meeting together which I’ll never forget. Takuma Sato, one of our best-known drivers and champions who happens to be a hero in Japan, was with us, and by the end of that discussion, we said, let’s get this done.
“Then we talked about the timing, and we said, ‘well, look, you’ve got to be on the firesuits and the cars and everything by our first open test, which is coming up in the middle of February. Let’s announce it in Detroit.’ It’s the perfect place, and so it got done.”
In partnering with NTT, INDYCAR has found a partner to fill the shoes left by Verizon. The sanctioning body relied on Verizon for a slew of technological assets on a week-to-week basis, and NTT’s extensive background in IT solutions will not only pick up where Verizon left off but expand on previously-developed technologies.
“Having a strong technology partner is critically important to INDYCAR’s continued growth, so we are thrilled to welcome NTT as our new title sponsor,” Miles continued. “INDYCAR’s rise in popularity is a testament to the fact that we’ve made the sport as accessible as possible to our fans and we plan to continue in that mission.
“We have a history with NTT through NTT DATA’s involvement in the sport with Chip Ganassi Racing. We know this partnership will help us attract the next generation of fans to what remains the most competitive racing program on the planet.”
While the business side of INDYCAR’s relationship with NTT serves as a natural bridge to success, it seems that the series’ plans and open dialogue offered a clear opportunity for both entities to pull the trigger on this deal.
“I think this relationship is perfect,” boasts Miles. “We are a global brand, and when I think about racing, I think we’re international, so you think about the team owners, you think about drivers from all over the world. I’m sure that was part of how NTT saw us. But we see them as a giant technology and communications company. When I think about the future growth of IndyCar, what’s
“We take 50 million data records off the cars in an average two-hour race. To me, that’s content. With NTT we can make that usable and compelling content for fans that will continue to grow the sport and attract younger fans,” teases Miles, referring to increased access to telemetry and unique features for fans on the IndyCar Mobile App.
“I just think we have a great fit, and then I think it was important that NTT Data had this history with IndyCar, which will mean that we hit the ground running. We’re in seventh gear already.”
Given the track record Miles has shown since becoming the president and CEO of Hulman & Company, it seems that seventh gear is the only gear he operates in. For INDYCAR, that has been just what the doctor ordered.
Header image by James Black/INDYCAR.