July 1, 2009

IRL shake-up unlikely to hurt sponsorships

A shake-up in the leadership of the Indy Racing League isn't likely to hurt the league's ability to attract sponsors, marketing analysts say.

Tony George resigned as chief executive officer of the league Tuesday after what the IRL called an overhaul of management structure.

George will remain on the IRL board of directors, while Jeff Belskus becomes the new president and CEO of Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corp., which also owns the IRL.

Zak Brown, who runs Just Marketing International, told the Indianapolis Star the change of command probably won't ruffle IRL sponsors.

Their questions are more marketing- and commercial-related, Brown said. "It's: 'What's the race schedule? How are the TV ratings doing? Where do you stand with a title sponsor?'

I don't think Tony George leaving his position has an impact on those questions. He doesn't bring a commercial value.

The Star said the change is causing more concern among the Indy Car teams.

But the newspaper noted Belskus comes from within the ranks of Hulman & Co., the firm that owns the racetrack and the IRL, so he's no stranger to the teams or the sport.