IndyCar teams try to give sponsors their money’s worth without racing

IndyCar driver Alex Rossi talks with News 8 in April 2020. (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — With the COVID-19 pandemic, race car drivers are no longer behind the wheel, which leaves a ripple effect in the motorsports world.

“Sponsors pay a lot of money to have their names on race cars and when we aren’t out there, it’s affecting them,” said Sage Karam of Team Dreyer and Reinbold.

For most teams in the IndyCar Series, their sponsors have already paid for the first portion of the season. So, how are they going to get their money’s worth without actual races?

“It’s definitely going to take more effort now to, to kind of become entertaining to people without a race suit and the helmet on,” said Alex Rossi of Team Andretti Autosport. “I think a good bridge that every driver and team is trying to partake in right now is social media.”

Sponsors are settling with having their names mentioned on their drivers’ social media feeds along with added fan interaction from the drivers’ side of things. 

Instagram, meet your newest influencers, formerly known as IndyCar drivers.

“I’m still probably in denial a little bit about that being a thing. Um, but you know, ultimately it’s, it’s what, it’s just an hour requirements part of your job description, right?” Rossi said. “It’s, it’s not something that any of us wanted or any of us really expected, but it’s just the reality that we’re in now.”

The challenge for drivers: advertisements are boring. IndyCar drivers are not.

“It’s hard. We aren’t used to having to be creative like this,” Karam said. “We’re getting to the point where we’re starting to make TikToks and stuff.”

The reigning Indianapolis 500 champion, Simon Pagenaud is hosting a series on his Twitter called #SimonsPetPeeves.

Rossi has something else cooked up: maybe a cooking lesson with race car driver Conor Daly.

“He doesn’t even own pots and pans. So it would be really funny to do some sort of cooking lesson with Conor because I can cook a little bit, not like a very large amount of things, but he can literally cook nothing. So be kind of be like the blind teaching the blind and in a way.”

From fighting for the finish line to fighting for followers, prepare for IndyCar drivers to break the internet because, of course, there will be a competitive twist.

“Hopefully we can do a better job than everyone else. In a way, it’s going to be a competition,” Rossi said.