Chevrolet and Honda, the rival INDYCAR engine manufacturers, came together to hail the news two weeks ago that NTT was becoming title sponsor of the NTT IndyCar Series beginning this season.
The announcement came in Chevy’s backyard, during media days for the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Both manufacturers see the benefits of aligning the series with NTT, the global information technology and communications leader. In their minds, it builds on the momentum that INDYCAR has created in recent years.
“The series is growing – it has a great product and great personalities,” said Art St. Cyr (at left in photo above), president of Honda Performance Development. “To have a stable sponsor like NTT going forward will help INDYCAR grow further.”
Jim Campbell, vice president of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports for General Motors, echoed St. Cyr’s thoughts following the sponsorship announcement.
“This is big,” Campbell (at right in photo above) said. “I’m so happy (INDYCAR) selected Detroit to make the announcement at the show. Chevy loves being involved in the series and NTT’s commitment is fantastic news.”
Belle Isle Park in Detroit will again host the only doubleheader NTT IndyCar Series weekend on the schedule, with the running of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear from May 31-June 2.
“INDYCAR racing is exciting, it is edge-of-the-seat stuff,” Campbell said. “The drivers are talented. Our role as manufacturers is to give them and the teams great power and great engineering support.
“What I like about NTT as a technology service company is that they are going to work on fan applications, so fans can access the sport more wherever they may be in the world. They’ll add great functionality.”
St. Cyr, who will lead Honda in defense of the manufacturer championship in 2019, agreed that NTT’s participation and engagement will only add value to the sport’s fans.
“This is already a very, very fan-oriented series,” said St. Cyr. “NTT’s arrival can only help it get better.”
How does St. Cyr see the season shaping up?
“I think it will be a great year,” he said. “There is never a dull moment on the track. The championship usually comes down to the last race. I have no doubt it is going to happen again this year.
“The Honda-Chevy rivalry makes for great competition. We were the sole engine supplier to INDYCAR from 2006-2011, and that was really no fun. But having competition, and hopefully even more competition in the future (with additional manufacturers), that makes the whole thing worthwhile and reason to get up every morning. You want to beat the other guy, so winning the championship last year, well, we are eager to defend it.”
The 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season consists of 17 races, beginning with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 10, anchored by the 103rd Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on May 26 and concluding with the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey on Sept. 22. All races will air live on NBC or NBCSN as well as the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.
Fans can gain a sneak peek at the cars and stars of the NTT IndyCar Series on Tuesday, Feb. 12, when IndyCar.com offers a free livestream of the first day of the INDYCAR Spring Training open test from Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. The stream will run from 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m. ET, when cars are on track.