Busy Monday for IndyCar

It was a busy Monday for those involved with the IZOD IndyCar Series. The much-anticipated State of IndyCar event got underway at 5:30pm in downtown Indianapolis. There were many exciting announcements, and even more that we learned prior to tonight’s event.

Earlier in the day, Ed Carpenter Racing announced that they would be using Chevrolet powered engines for the 2012 season. His sponsor, Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka, was also announced to be the Official Vodka of the IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights. Fuzzy’s is now the signature cocktail of IndyCar, and will be featured at all events.

There were other announcements that CEO Randy Bernard was finally able to let loose. The series has new commercial sponsorship with LIDS, Fuzzy’s, Discover Network and First Bankcard. Verizon is also going to be launching a new mobile app for their customers that will be available on the iPhone and iPad devices. The IndyCar website is also going to be getting a face lift, in two separate phases.

The biggest announcement of the night probably belonged to Firestone. To the delight of everyone, it was announced that Firestone will remain the IZOD IndyCar Series’ Official Tire through at least 2014, with contract negotiations for beyond 2014 already underway.

Keeping Firestone in the sport was huge for the Series, and the fans.

Another big announcement was the re-branding of the VERSUS network, which is now the NBC Sports Network. They will televise ten of the 16 races this season, while the other six will be televised by ESPN on ABC. Those races include St. Petersburg, Detroit, Milwaukee, Toronto, Mid-Ohio, and the Indianapolis 500 of course.

The NBC Sports Network will also introduce “INDYCAR 36”, a 30-minute show featuring 36 hours in the life of an IndyCar Series driver. This show will go behind the scenes during race weekends from the first practice through the end of the race.

There were plenty of exciting announcements made, but there was also plenty of hardware to hand out. Drivers and teams received their awards from their performances during the 2011 season. Just recapping how last year went, the anticipation for the 2012 season is through the roof. While much of Monday night’s buzz was about celebrating the 2011 season, Tuesday should provide us with more news about the 2012 season.

Arie Luyendk, Johnny Unser and Gary Barnard will now serve as Race Stewards in support of Race Director Beaux Barfield. While Luyendyk may be the most well-known of the bunch, it is Unser and Barnard who have more experience. Unser was Race Director of the Champ Car Atlantic Championship in 2008, while Barnard was a race steward in CART, and has more than 15 years of experience in Race Control.

Bernard put together a great closing speech. He summed it up nicely by saying; “Sit back, buckle up and hold on because the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season promises to be one hell of a ride.”

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