Nearly every day, the Speedway convenience store on West 16th Street in Indianapolis gets plenty of customers from its neighbor across the street, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Employees down the street at the INDYCAR offices also stop in to buy coffee, doughnuts, soft drinks and fill up their gas tanks.
One of those frequent customers is Mark Miles, the president and CEO of Hulman & Company, who believes the Speedway chain of nearly 4,000 retail stores is a great partner fit for both INDYCAR and IMS. It’s one reason why Speedway became the official fuel supplier and official convenience store of INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Jan. 1.
Through the multiyear deal, Speedway will provide the fuel powering every car at every race in the IndyCar Series. Speedway will also work on marketing initiatives with both the track and the league and receive signage at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Speedway fuels also will power Hulman & Company's fleet of trucks and IMS equipment.
“We couldn’t be more excited about the new Speedway partnership,” said Miles, who admits to making numerous trips to the Speedway location across from the IMS administration building to fill up his vehicle’s gas tank or fill his own tank with coffee or snacks.
“They are fundamentally from a fuels background and we know they are going to be superb in providing E85 to our (race) teams and to Honda and Chevrolet. They will also be providing us with fuel that will power the Hulman & Company vehicles in our various fleets, from IMS Productions trucks to INDYCAR trucks to various vehicles that make it possible to run the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the huge venue that it is. On the fuel side, we think they are a great fit.”
Speedway LLC is the nation's second-largest company-owned and -operated convenience store chain. Headquartered in Enon, Ohio, it is a subsidiary of the Marathon Petroleum Corporation and has locations in 35 states, including states in which 11 IndyCar Series races will be contested this year.
But it’s the marketing potential of the Speedway convenience stores that makes this deal so valuable in Miles’ eyes. It allows for direct marketing of INDYCAR and IMS events to fans, at the gas pump or inside the convenience stores.
“What is most new is they have a significant national top-tier number of convenience stores and they are going to be activating in ways that will help promote INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway events, initially in Indianapolis but ultimately around the country,” Miles said. “They have great ability to reach fans through their loyalty programs.”
“They are going to use Indianapolis and (the month of) May as the opportunity to test a lot of marketing and promotional ideas (around the INDYCAR Grand Prix and 103rd Indianapolis 500),” Miles added. “They will see which ones work and then roll them out at other IndyCar Series markets through the season.
“They can be agile and help us promote.”
And with a name like Speedway, it was a perfect fit to be involved in racing.
“It’s so funny, we went over to their corporate headquarters in Ohio and we typed in the address to the navigation system and the address was ‘500 Speedway Dr.,’” Miles said. “I thought, ‘This was meant to be.’
“This adds a whole element of a vast national footprint of stores that can be great at promoting the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. They are going to be a great promotional partner of INDYCAR. … It’s going to be a very complete relationship.”
The 2019 IndyCar Series season consists of 17 races, starting with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 10 and concluding with the INDYCAR Grand Prix of Monterey on Sept. 22. The centerpiece of the schedule is the Indianapolis 500 on May 26 from the iconic 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval. All races air live on NBC or NBCSN in the first year of an exclusive media rights deal with the NBC Sports Group.