NBC Sports’ inaugural presentation of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship begins Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019, with live coverage of the 57th Rolex 24 At DAYTONA from Daytona Beach, Fla., as part of more than 100 hours of IMSA programming set to air across NBC, NBCSN, NBCSports.com, and the NBC Sports app throughout the upcoming 2019 season.

On April 30, 2018, NBC Sports Group and IMSA announced a new, six-year media rights agreement in which NBC Sports acquired the U.S. broadcast rights to all IMSA races beginning in 2019.

Live race coverage of the 57th Rolex 24 At DAYTONA – the most prestigious sports car race in North America, and the first leg of the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup – from the Daytona International Speedway begins at 2 p.m. ET on NBCSN, as a world-class field of drivers take to the 3.56-mile course to begin the IMSA 50th anniversary celebration.

“As we all get ready for IMSA’s much-anticipated 50th anniversary season in 2019, our new NBC Sports media partnership promises to promote and showcase our unique premium product in revolutionary ways,” said IMSA CEO Ed Bennett. “Both IMSA and the WeatherTech Championship have been experiencing incredible momentum the last several years and this partnership should only help elevate the sport to new heights.”

“We couldn’t be more excited to begin our IMSA coverage from the Daytona International Speedway with the iconic 57th Rolex 24,” said Jon Miller, President, Programming, NBC Sports and NBCSN. “As the home of U.S. motorsports, we’ll showcase the uniqueness of IMSA racing to motorsports fans everywhere, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the association throughout the season.”

NBCSN will broadcast a one-hour 2019 Season Preview on Thursday, Jan. 24 at 2 p.m. ET. That will be followed by live coverage of qualifying for the Rolex 24 from 3 – 5 p.m. ET. The preview show will also re-air on Saturday, Jan. 26 at 1 p.m. as a lead-in to the coverage of the race.

All 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races will be live streamed to authenticated subscribers on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app — NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices, tablets, and connected TVs. NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app are available on the iTunes App Store, Google Play Store, Windows Store, Roku Channel Store, Apple TV and Amazon Fire.

Highlighting the broadcast schedule are the three other IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup races which include the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented By Advance Auto Parts from Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla., on March 16; the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen International on June 30 and the Motul Petit Le Mans from Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on Oct. 12.

In total, NBC Sports will present three live racing windows on NBC, which will consist of coverage from Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on July 7, WeatherTech Race Laguna Seca on Sept. 15 and the season finale from Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta with the 22nd annual Motul Petit Le Mans. NBCSN is scheduled to provide fans with more than 40 hours of coverage throughout the season.

Image  —  Posted: November 13, 2018 in Uncategorized

The “Silver Fox” was a NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee, three-time champion

Winner of 105 races in just 574 starts – second most to fellow NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty – the Whitney, S.C.-born Pearson won titles in 1966 and 1968-69.

Daytona Beach, Florida

(Nov. 12, 2018) – David Pearson, winner of three NASCAR premier series championships despite never running a complete schedule, has died at the age of 83 (b. 12/22/34).

“David Pearson’s 105 NASCAR premier series victories and his classic rivalry in the 1960s and ’70s with Richard Petty helped set the stage for NASCAR’s transformation into a mainstream sport with national appeal,” said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Jim France. “When he retired, he had three championships – and millions of fans. Petty called him the greatest driver he ever raced against. We were lucky to be able to call him one of our champions.

“The man they called the ‘Silver Fox’ was the gold standard for NASCAR excellence.

“On behalf of the France Family and everyone at NASCAR, I want to offer sincere condolences to the family and friends of David Pearson, a true giant of our sport.”

Pearson was most identified with the legendary Wood Brothers despite never winning a championship in their Ford and Mercury cars. Between 1972 and 1979, Pearson and the Virginia-based Woods – led by NASCAR Hall of Famers Glen and Leonard – won 43 times including the 1976 Daytona 500, a race that saw Pearson limp to the finish after colliding with rival Petty coming down to take the checkered flag.

Pearson was a ferocious qualifier, once fashioning 11 consecutive pole positions at Charlotte Motor Speedway, a NASCAR premier series record that still stands. Yet, he was willing to run long – 500 and 600 mile – races at a pace fast enough to maintain track position while saving speed for the finish.

It earned him the nickname as “The Fox” – as in sly – that later, as his hair began to grey, became “The Silver Fox.”

Perhaps the greatest measure of Pearson’s talents was his mastery of Darlington Raceway in South Carolina, not far from where the driver grew up in Spartanburg – once the hub of NASCAR stock car racing.

Pearson, inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2011, won 10 times at the track dubbed “Too Tough To Tame,” a 1.366-mile, egg-shaped track that ushered in NASCAR’s paved, superspeedway era in 1950. He won three Southern 500s, run during the heat and humidity of Labor Day week that ranked as the sport’s greatest test of endurance for both driver and car.

Hulman & Company and Indianapolis Motor Speedway Chairman of the Board Emeritus Mari Hulman George, who touched the lives of millions through her deep passion for auto racing, stewardship of the Racing Capital of the World and decades of compassionate philanthropy, died Nov. 3 in Indianapolis with her family by her side. She was 83.

Mari served as IMS chairman from 1988-2016, but motorsports and the world-renowned racetrack were among the cornerstones of her life since her father, Anton “Tony” Hulman Jr., purchased the facility in November 1945 and saved it from almost certain demolition after World War II. She was a pioneer as co-owner of a team that raced at the highest levels of Midwestern auto racing, in the 1950s and 1960s, a rarity for a woman at the time.

She also touched the lives of countless Hoosiers through tireless, generous philanthropic efforts for her entire adult life, with special focus on the arts, health care and, in particular, animal care.

Mary Antonia Hulman was born Dec. 26, 1934 in Evansville, Indiana, the daughter of prominent business magnate Anton “Tony” Hulman Jr. and Mary Fendrich Hulman. “Mari” attended primary and secondary school at St. Benedict in Terre Haute and the Ladywood School in Indianapolis, and attended Purdue University.

When her father bought IMS in November 1945, Mari was immersed into the world of auto racing, becoming friends with many drivers during her teenage and early-adult years. That loyalty and passion for the sport and its competitors and teams remained steadfast for the rest of her life.

Before her 21st birthday, Mari joined with longtime family friend Roger Wolcott to form the HOW racing team, which fielded American Automobile Association (AAA) and United States Auto Club (USAC) Sprint and National Championship cars for several drivers, including Jerry Hoyt, Eddie Sachs, Tony Bettenhausen, Roger McCluskey and Elmer George, whom she married in April 1957.

The team was successful. George won the Midwest Sprint Car title in 1957 and finished third in 1956 and 1958. Sachs was runner-up in the rankings in 1954. George ended up 10th in the National Championship standings in 1957, with a victory in a 100-mile race at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse, New York.

Mari also fielded an entry in the Indianapolis 500 in 1962 and 1963, with her husband as the driver. Elmer George finished a career-best 17th in 1962, receiving relief help from Paul Russo and A.J. Foyt.

Mari savored the friendships she established with drivers, team owners, mechanics and officials during her young adult years, maintaining those bonds for her entire life. She was especially close to legendary four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Foyt, whom she met a year before his 1958 Indianapolis 500 debut and is still a cherished family friend.

In a symbol of their enduring friendship, Mari and Foyt placed a commemorative “golden brick” into the famous Yard of Bricks start-finish line in May 2011 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the inaugural Indianapolis 500 and the 50th anniversary of Foyt’s first “500” victory, in 1961.

Mari’s loyalty to her extended racing family was displayed for decades in May through two parties she hosted for drivers. The “Racers Party” took place on the opening weekend of the Month of May leading into the Indianapolis 500, and she celebrated friendships with many drivers from her stint as a team owner during the “Friends of the 50s and 60s” event during the week between qualifying and the race in May.

She welcomed all drivers who participated in the “500” – including some who didn’t qualify for the race – to the parties, setting a standard for providing red-carpet treatment to all past and present Indianapolis 500 comptetitiors when they came to the track in May, regardless of their stature with the public. She sometimes even cooked meals for drivers in May during her younger years.

Mari also was a constant fixture at the track with her family during racing events at IMS, especially in the Month of May. She visited with drivers and team officials in Gasoline Alley and on pit lane and shared in many magic moments. The photo of her embracing Willy T. Ribbs on pit lane after he became the first African-American to qualify for the Indianapolis 500, in 1991, was especially poignant and cherished by many.

Racing fans worldwide also knew her as the individual who gave the famous command to start engines for the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400 for more than 15 years from the late 1990s until 2015.

She also became close friends with many of the celebrities who visited the track each May, especially beloved Memorial Day weekend fixtures Jim Nabors and Florence Henderson.

The Speedway also served as a platform for some of Mari’s tireless philanthropic efforts. She hosted the “Save Arnold” Barbecue to benefit Indiana Special Olympics every May for nearly 25 years, from 1981 through the mid-2000s. The fun event united drivers, racing personalities and media with Indiana Special Olympic athletes in sports demonstrations and other activities. The “Save Arnold” Barbecue raised more than $1 million for Indiana Special Olympics.

Mari also created a program through which thousands of Indiana school children visited the Speedway each May on complimentary field trips to learn about the connections between education and motorsports. Those field trips continue to this day.

IMS prospered and evolved into a new era during Mari’s tenure as chairman of the board, from 1988-2016.

During that span, the Indianapolis 500 grew to unprecedented worldwide popularity. The facility also expanded its annual schedule beyond the Month of May to include the Brickyard 400 for the NASCAR Cup Series, the United States Grand Prix for the FIA Formula One World Championship and the Red Bull Indianapolis GP for the FIM MotoGP World Championship.

That evolution required significant capital improvements to the facility, such as the construction of the new Pagoda control tower, an infield road course that included parts of the famous 2.5-mile oval, new pit-side garages and various safety improvements.

IMS and INDYCAR also led the development of one of the greatest safety innovations in motorsports history – the energy-absorbing SAFER Barrier – during Mari’s tenure as chairman. That barrier system was first installed in 2002 at IMS and soon adopted at nearly every major oval track in North America and many road courses worldwide.

These contributions to IMS and motorsports – along with her charitable work for the racing community – led to Mari being inducted into the IMS Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2015.

Mari’s commitment to racing was equaled by her generosity for supporting local, regional and national causes.

She was devoted to the arts and education and served for years as a trustee at the Rose-Hulman Institute for Technology in Terre Haute, which was founded in 1874 with significant assistance from the Hulman family. She received an honorary doctorate degree from Rose-Hulman in 1998 and from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, also located in Terre Haute.

The Hulman-George family also made large contributions to the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana State University, Purdue University, Indiana University and Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, among other art and educational institutions.

Mari also was a leading charitable force to benefit animal care, especially for horses and greyhounds, two of her greatest passions.

Her dedication to learning and horses led to the endowment and establishment in 1989 of the equine science program at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, named the Mari Hulman George School of Equine Studies. The school also conducts the Mari Hulman George Thoroughbred Adoption to provide proper care for horses.

She also raised, bred and rode horses at the family’s farm, Circle S Ranch near Terre Haute, the family ranch in Wyoming and at stables in Florida. Her quarterhorses and thoroughbreds competed in numerous events. The Mari Hulman George Stakes remain a prestigious annual stakes race at Indiana Downs, in tribute to her dedication to horses and racing.

In 2001, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security renamed its search-and-rescue training area at Camp Atterbury the Mari Hulman George Search and Rescue Training Center, recognizing Mari’s contribution to the care of animals displaced and affected by disasters.

She worked tirelessly to promote adoption of retired racing greyhounds, leading by example by taking in many of the dogs at her farm. She also housed stray dogs at an extensive kennel at the family’s farm.

Besides serving as chairman of the board for Hulman & Company, IMS and the IMS Foundation, Mari also was a longtime board member of First Financial Bank, a publicly traded company headquartered in Terre Haute.

Mari is survived by three daughters, Nancy George, Josie George and Kathi George-Conforti; a son, Anton H. “Tony” George; a stepdaughter, Carolyn Coffey; seven grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and her longtime companion, Guy Trollinger. She was predeceased by her husband, Elmer, and a stepson, Joseph George.

Funeral arrangements are pending and have been entrusted to Callahan & Hughes Funeral Home in Terre Haute, Indiana.

— Endurance Warranty Services Enters Motorsports with Andretti

INDIANAPOLIS, IND. (October 30, 2018) – Jarett Andretti today announced his newest national marketing and sponsorship partner for the 2019 race season. Andretti is proud to be the national brand spokesperson for Endurance Warranty Services (Endurance). Endurance is making their motorsports debut with Andretti in 2019. Andretti, already a champion open wheel racer, will continue his young career in sports cars, competing in the Pirelli World Challenge GT4 America Series.

Endurance is one of the largest providers of vehicle service contracts in the nation. They offer a variety of different protection plans for the most comprehensive coverage for your car. The company will introduce and lead a multifaceted campaign with Andretti through national television ads, public relations, digital and social media and more. In addition, Endurance will serve as the primary sponsor for Andretti throughout the Pirelli World Challenge schedule.

“This is an exciting day for our company,” said Jordan Batt, CEO of Endurance. “We are thrilled to announce this partnership with Jarett and are looking forward to beginning our motorsports marketing campaign. Jarett has impressed us on and off the track and we know he can help us win with our customers. We are already looking forward to next season and are currently planning our national ads with Jarett.”

The new multiyear partnership for Andretti comes after completing his rookie season in the Pirelli World Challenge Series while still competing in over 50 sprint car races this summer throughout the Midwest. Andretti enjoyed his experience in the Pirelli World Challenge Series and looks forward to growing in the series with Endurance next season.

“I’m really thankful to Jordan and his team at Endurance for supporting our sports car program in 2019,” said Andretti. “I’ve enjoyed getting to know the people at Endurance and learning more about their services. This is a perfect brand to be in motorsports because of the quality of car warranties they provide. I’m looking forward to telling their story throughout the year and help grow their business.

“On the track, this partnership will continue to help me develop as a driver,” said Andretti. “The Pirelli World Challenge Series offers competitive racing with championship-caliber teams and drivers. It makes you push hard each lap and I enjoy that. I’ve had fun learning and racing the different tracks, too. I feel that sports car racing helps you become an overall better driver. Having Endurance behind us, we know that we’ll have the proper planning and funding to make a championship run next year.”

Andretti is a graduate of North Carolina State University who now lives in Indianapolis and races full-time. He is the son of John Andretti, cousin of Marco Andretti, nephew of Michael Andretti, the grandson of Aldo Andretti and the great nephew of Mario Andretti.

He’s carried on the family racing tradition and has championships in go-karts, the USAC Eastern Ignite Pavement Midget Series, the 410 Sprint Car division at the Lawrenceburg Speedway and is also an Indiana Sprint Car Series champion. In addition, Andretti is the 2014 USAC National Sprint Car Rookie of the Year and a former Rookie of the Year at the Oswego Speedway in the supermodified class.

About Endurance Auto Warranty Services

Founded in 2006, Endurance Warranty Services LLC is the most customer-driven company in the vehicle protection industry. Named one of the largest and fastest-growing companies in Chicago by Crain’s and continuosly climbing the Inc 5000 list of fastest growing companies in America, Endurance protects thousands of drivers from the high cost of repair bills every day. Endurance is the only company industry-wide that is both A+ rated by the Better Business Bureau and Gold-Certified by the Vehicle Protection Association, and all Endurance policies are backed by an AM Best “A” rated insurance company. By delivering world-class service to every customer, current or future, Endurance continues to reign as the premier provider of vehicle protection in the nation. For more information, please visit www.endurancewarranty.com

Image  —  Posted: October 20, 2018 in Uncategorized