Internet services company GoDaddy.com has confirmed the details of their ongoing sponsorship of Andretti Autosport in 2012 and 2013, heading off concerns that they were pulling out of the series in the wake of Danica Patrick's transfer to NASCAR.
GoDaddy.com has been a longtime personal sponsor for Patrick, and bankrolled her car in the four-driver set-up at Andretti Autosport. But following controversial comments from GoDaddy.com CEO Bob Parsons in June in which he compared IndyCar unfavourably to NASCAR, there were concerns that Patrick's departure from the team would mean the company would take the sponsorship money away with her.
But less than 24 hours after the big announcement regarding Danica's switch, GoDaddy announced that they would continue as a primary sponsor of one of the Andretti Autosport cars for the next two seasons. The company is also signing up Mario, Michael and Marco Andretti as company spokespeople, which will see all three of them front TV commercials in the US.
"Three generations of Andrettis, now that's just plain cool!" said Parsons. "Imagine the marketing potential: Mario is an absolute icon, Michael has been GoDaddy's partner as a team owner for five years now and Marco is a young man who is already in the racing record books [as the then-youngest winner of an IndyCar race in 2006, aged 19.] This is not your 'everyday' sponsorship, that's for sure."
IndyCar and F1 racing legend Mario Andretti was full of praise for Parsons and his company.
"We admire how GoDaddy runs its business," Mario said. "In IndyCar, we put the fans first, [just as on the Internet] GoDaddy puts the customers first. GoDaddy is absolutely passionate about what they do, and I've always believed passion is at the heart of success."
The details of who will be driving the GoDaddy.com-sponsored IndyCar will be announced later in the autumn.
Parsons - a long-time fan of motor sport, despite his comment earlier this year that NASCAR was "much more exciting than IndyCar with all due respect" - said that there was never any doubt that GoDaddy.com wanted to stay as a sponsor in US open-wheel racing.
"Deciding to stay with IndyCar was a pretty easy decision. The fans are great," he said, stressing that "We believe IndyCar is very important to us.
"We cut our teeth in racing with IndyCar and it's been excellent for us and Danica has been excellent for us," he continued. He also had particular praise for the IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard, saying: "We're really encouraged with the changes he's been making to make the sport exciting and the race circuit more exciting, but also what I think he's going to do in the future."
In response, Bernard was also gushing in his praise of GoDaddy.com, which as well as sponsoring Patrick this year was also a presenting sponsor for the ABC broadcast of the centennial Indianapolis 500 in May.
"GoDaddy sticking with IndyCar is a tremendous win for our sport on so many levels," said Bernard. "GoDaddy is a dream sponsor. They know how to create excitement and build brand buzz. This is just the kind of sponsor we need in IndyCar."
The two-year deal will officially start with the 2012 season.