Ed Carpenter and rookie Sebastian Saavedra have both revealed the sponsors that will adorn their cars when the Month of May kicks off at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the next few days.
Panther Racing announced that Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka, created by Indiana golf legend Fuzzy Zoeller, has agreed to a primary sponsorship agreement on Carpenter's #20 entry, which will be run as a joint effort by Panther and Vision Racing, while Saavedra will carry his existing Williams Rast backing into the blue riband event as he attempts 'double duty' in both the IndyCar race and the supporting Freedom 100 Indy Lights round.
Known as one of the most fun loving personalities in the history of the game, Zoeller entered into the spirits business by launching his own ultra premium vodka in July 2009, and now, almost a year on, makes his debut at the 500.
“I've won some majors in my golf career, and there is no doubt the Indianapolis 500 is the major championship in the world of motor racing,” the twelve-time tour victor commented, “I am very excited about our partnership with Tony [George], Ed [Carpenter] and Panther Racing, and their deep ties to Indiana. I would love to add another major to my resume. Ed's resume on ovals is impressive, so we think we have a shot.”
Six-year IndyCar Series veteran Carpenter will be making a return to competition at Indy, having been forced to sit out the start of the season following the suspension of George's Vision Racing team. The 29-year old finished the 2009 season having earned a career best finish of second at Kentucky. He has finished of fifth and eighth in the last two Indy 500s.
“I'm very grateful and thankful to Fuzzy Zoeller and Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka for coming on board to make this year's Indianapolis 500 a reality for me,” he admitted, "It has been a very long and difficult off-season sitting on the sidelines after such a productive 2009 season, and being back to the Indy 500 really means the world to me. I'm looking forward to performing competitively and representing these Indiana traditions to the best of my ability. Fuzzy has a great product and we hope to do a good job for them and make everyone proud.”
Meanwhile, rising Colombian star Saavedra will carry familiar William Rast colours as contests both the 500 and the supporting Firestone Freedom 100 with Bryan Herta Autosport, becoming only the third driver – and by far the youngest – to attempt the 'Indy two-step' since the Freedom 100 was added to the schedule in 2003. The two other 'double-dippers' were American Jeff Simmons and Canadian Marty Roth, aged 27 and 45 respectively when they became the first to enter both events in 2004. Roth also ran both the Freedom 100 and the Indy 500 in 2005, and Simmons completed his second double in 2008.
“To be able to do both of the races, I have been working very hard on my physical fitness and making sure that I am mentally prepared as well,” Saavedra reported, “Luckily, I will have some great tutors around me to keep me focused on what I have to do. This is a tremendous opportunity and I have to thank both William Rast and Bryan Herta Autosport.”
The 'New America' denim culture brand founded by Trace Ayala and Justin Timberlake will showcase its newly-launched William Rast Racing Eyewear collection at the 94th running of 'The Greatest Spectacle in Racing'. In addition to its Indianapolis 500 platform, William Rast is the primary sponsor of the #29 Indy Lights car piloted by Saavedra.
“Sebastian is a perfect fit for the William Rast brand, and is an ideal ambassador for the William Rast Racing Eyewear collection, launching spring 2011," CEO Colin Dyne commented, "We are excited to be partnering with the Bryan Herta Autosport team and be part of this great American tradition, adding our modern attitude to this classic event.”