The North American Auto Show in Detroit was the “perfect place” to officially confirm NTT as the new entitlement sponsor of IndyCar, said Hulman and Company CEO Mark Miles, who noted the new association had been a long time in development. Miles is confident the benefits of the new association will be significant for both parties.
“I think a few things (led up to the deal),” Miles said. “One, IndyCar for the past several years has been growing in all measures of fan engagement and I think as a global brand, and so the platform was attractive.
“I think it goes back to 2012 when Chip Ganassi Racing formed a sponsor relationship with the No. 10 car, and NTT Data is I think the biggest operating company of NTT here in the United States… I think this relationship is perfect. 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 more important than developing technology? It drives our racing, our teams. Everybody in the paddock needs data in usable form to improve.”
“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.”
Tony Kanaan — who drove an NTT DATA-backed Indy car during his time with Chip Ganassi Racing — agreed that the company’s tech provides a perfect step to drive IndyCar’s fan experience forward.
“In the past I developed this shirt, we call it the heater shirt, but that’s just the technology they can bring to the series,” said Kanaan. “I mean, the shirt was something that was amazing when we launched that it could actually read my heart rate while I was in the car.
“A company that spends $4 billion in R&D a year, I think it has a lot to bring to the series. You know, it’s a lot of familiar faces. I have good friends at NTT, so I’m really excited for IndyCar. It shows how strong the series is and how good of a job Mark Miles and his team with (vp of competition) Jay Frye turned it around — as soon as we had a title sponsor leaving, and in four months to turn this around and have this announcement today, so really excited.”
Ganassi whose No. 10 IndyCar continues to be sponsored by NTT DATA, noted that the global reach of NTT will bring benefits too.
“I think we’re going into our eighth year now with NTT in 2019, and I think what I see is they do business globally with a lot of major, major corporations around the world,” he said. “They entertain these people at the track and they have good relationships, but after a day at the track I can see a good relationship turn into a great relationship. So I’m excited about them coming on as a series sponsor.”
Jim Campbell, General Motors vp of Performance and Motorsports, said he also had high hopes for NTT and its capabilities.
“I think it’s exciting — NTT is going to bring all this technology services expertise, and they’re going to help turbocharge our sport,” Campbell said. “They’re going to start I think with the app. They’re going to make that app really accessible, lots of ways for the fans all over the world to connect with our sport that we love so much. I think it’s a great relationship.
“We look at NTT, they have ties in the auto industry, and so to make this announcement here in Detroit where we have the North American International Auto Show, I think is quite appropriate. Whether it’s working on AV or electrification or the way we use data to make all that happen, I think it’s an appropriate place to do that.”