Last year’s Indianapolis 500 race faced unique challenges thanks to the pandemic – it was postponed until August and there were no spectators allowed – but it was still a huge success.
With blackouts lifted, NBC Sports reported 3.737 million viewers, making it the network’s second-most-watched INDYCAR race on record.
As vaccines continue to roll out across the country and more sporting events are able to start returning to normal, the excitement for this year’s race is at an even higher level than it was last year. At 40% track fan capacity, Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) will allow around 135,000 fans to attend.
“Our fans mean everything to us, and we can’t wait to welcome them ‘Back Home Again’ for this year’s Indy 500,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said in a press release.
But the race isn’t the only event that takes place in May. The entire city celebrates all month long – and WTHR, TEGNA’s Indianapolis NBC affiliate is in a unique position to help brands align with “the greatest spectacle in racing.”
“It’s a huge Indy community celebration,” says Christine Warren, Director of Marketing at WTHR. “It’s not just a race, it’s an entire month of celebratory events uniting people throughout the Circle City. There’s a marathon race, parade, concerts, festivals, kids’ activities, porch parties, and everyone is flying their checkered flags. There’s so much spirit, Hoosier pride, and comradery!”
As “Your Home for the Month of May,” one of WTHR’s traditions is to host exclusive, behind-the-scenes content you can’t get anywhere else – which includes access to the drivers themselves.
“We have seven hours of coverage, race day morning from 5:00 AM until noon with live look-ins at all the excitement,” explains Scott Hainey, Project Manager for Integrated Brand Partnership Initiatives at WTHR. “I think this year, the fans will be interested in seeing a little bit of that return to normalcy with at least some spectators at the raceway this year.”
Other exclusive Indy 500 content comes to us thanks to Dave Calabro, WTHR’s Director of Sports and Indianapolis Motor Speedway PA track announcer. One of those programs is Milk and Cookies, in which Calabro chats with Indy 500 drivers, asking fun and light-hearted questions, like “what is your favorite Indy 500 tradition?” For most, it’s the winner drinking milk at the end of the race.
Another exclusive segment airing on WTHR features Calabro on a deep-sea fishing trip with Indy 500 winner, Ryan Hunter-Reay, as they talk about his career – and catch some impressive fish in the process. Calabro is also hosting a podcast called “500 Voices” launching soon!
“One of the best parts of my job is getting to know the drivers away from the limelight. These drivers have some funny personalities. We were looking for a way to let you meet the REAL people behind the helmets,” Calabro told viewers.
What does this mean for your brand?
The relationships TEGNA stations have with local athletes is just one of the things advertisers can leverage. Calabro, Dave Schwartz at KARE11 in Minneapolis, and Chris Egan at KING5 in Seattle are just three examples.
Brands can align with this unique sports content using platforms like broadcast, OTT, and digital media. And when brands advertise with TEGNA, they’ll have access to a large and engaged audience – and with powerful messaging, brands can really make a big impact and grow their business.