Posts

Dec. 15, 2009, 4:50 am

2009 Season in Review

(by Mark Olson)

The 2009 Firestone Indy Lights™ season definitely had its ups and downs for Genoa. We were competitive everywhere, with:


- Fastest lap and new track record at Palm Beach International Raceway during testing

- Fastest lap at Homestead-Miami Speedway during testing

- Fastest lap at Kentucky Speedway during testing

- Fastest lap at Sebring International Raceway during testing

- 1.5 seconds faster than the next closest car in the rain at the St. Petersburg race

- Pole position speed in qualifying and a second-place finish at the Long Beach race


Unfortunately, the economy severely impacted driver budgets in 2009, and in June (after an inspirational finish in the Freedom 100 on “Carb Day” at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway), Genoa decided to park the team and begin preparing for 2010. It’s an ugly reality that car racing is extremely expensive, and without proper budgets (much of it provided by the driver), the team can burn through an enormous amount of cash. Genoa strategically decided to sit out the remainder of what could’ve been a financially disastrous season in order to preserve its resources for 2010 and beyond.


This strategy appears to have paid off, with several veteran drivers and a handful of IndyCar® teams looking at Genoa to be a strong partner in 2010.


The weather has gotten cold, the Christmas lights are up, and the off-season testing ban is nearly upon us. Nonetheless, there is a lot of hard work going on at Genoa. Among other opportunities, we’re deep into discussions with several IndyCar® teams to move in-house and to become their official minor league affiliate.


Genoa is also looking at some exciting new ideas that will provide very unique and exclusive opportunities for our fans to participate in the day-to-day activities of the team. While we can't talk about the details right now, look for an announcement before Christmas.


So stay warm and stay tuned! Merry Christmas to you and yours. Genoa wishes you all the peace, joy, and happiness of the holiday season.



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Apr. 3, 2009, 2:17 pm

Let's Go Racing!

(by Mark Olson)
Since October, a lot of effort on the Admin side has been in recruiting. We've spent a lot of time scouting race events all over the world, with domestic trips primarily to Star Mazda events and ChampCar Atlantic events, and with at least 3 trips to Europe. Unfortunately, the economy has put a lot of pressure on driver budgets and sponsorship budgets ... so it's been challenging to keep our standards high and to not cut corners.
 
 
Fortunately our hard work, patience, and discipline appear to have paid off, as we start the 2009 campaign with Richard Philippe in the #36 car and Duncan Tappy in the #63 car.
 
 
Richard is originally from Valence, France but resides in Miami, FL. He’s a very talented and highly motivated driver. In 2005, at the ripe age of 15, he became the youngest driver to ever win at Indianapolis and the youngest driver to win the Formula BMW championship. Given Indy’s century of racing history, that’s quite a measuring stick! Richard tested with us at Homestead Speedway in November and went quite well. In January, he set a new track record on the road course at Palm Beach International Raceway (formerly Moroso Motorsports Park). Then he backed up the performance a mere 2 days later on the 1.5 mile oval at Homestead Speedway, by scoring the fastest time of the day (with all the other top teams in attendance). He passed his IRL Rookie Test at Kentucky Speedway on March 24th, and he scored another fastest lap during the final pre-season test at Sebring on March 30th (with 19 total cars in attendance).
 
 
Duncan joined the team late in March … just in time to install a motor in the #63 car and load up for the March 30 test at Sebring. Duncan hails from West Ewell in the UK. His first full season in car racing produced a remarkable thirteen consecutive race wins in Formula Ford. Not only did he take the championship, he dominated the prestigious Formula Ford Festival. Winning the Formula Renault Championship in 2007, Duncan scored 16 podiums and 9 race wins. 2008 saw Duncan competing in the Superleague Formula producing three podiums in the first five events.
 
 
Yes, Richard and Duncan ARE that good!
 
 
So now we enter the first race weekend of the season in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. All the testing is done, the cars are perfect, the drivers’ and fans’ expectations are very high. You have to check the action out on the web. Besides the tape delay coverage on Versus on Monday the 6th, there will be live streaming video on the web at www.indycar.com. There are 28 cars registered for the race, 18 of which are Indy Lights rookies. I accidentally ended up driving on a portion of the track, today, looking for the pits, and it looks more like canyon racing … the way the track is laid out on the city streets of downtown St. Petersburg, with solid concrete walls lining the track (see simulated lap on http://www.versus.com/nw/article/view/77554/?tf=indycar2.tpl). The action should be fierce.
 
 
The schedule is as follows:
 
 
9:25 – 10:25 AM EDT on Friday April 3             Indy Lights Practice
4:45 – 5:30 PM EDT on Friday April 3                Indy Lights Qualifying for Race 1
9:55 – 10:35 AM EDT on Saturday April 4         Indy Lights Qualifying for Race 2
4:45 PM EDT on Saturday April 4                       Indy Lights Race 1
10:00 AM EDT on Sunday April 5                      Indy Lights Race 2
2:45 PM EDT on Sunday April 5                         IndyCar Race, Live TV on Versus
6:00 PM EDT on Monday April 6                        Delayed TV on Versus, Indy Lights
 
 
A note on cable channel Versus. This used to be the Outdoor Life Network. They are the fastest growing sports channel on cable. Besides IndyCar, they have also won the contract to broadcast all the NHL hockey games and the Tour de France bicycle racing. While at first most fans were disappointed to see the TV coverage move from ESPN2 to Versus, it’s probably a really good thing. First of all they wanted us … bad, and it’s always nice to be wanted. ESPN2 only provided 30 minutes of coverage, so the action was heavily edited. We get a full 60 minute show on Versus, so no on-track action should be missed. Additionally, all of our races are supposed to be re-broadcast during the 2.5 hour pre-race shows for the IndyCar events. So there will be lots of exposure for our drivers and sponsors.
 
 
Changing gears, Duncan and I got to play a round of golf at the St. Petersburg Country Club, today. Duncan and I are both around a 16 handicap, but we didn’t demonstrate it today. In our defense, it was essentially the first round of 2009 for both of us, and there was a lot of rust. The company was great, the weather was excellent, the facility was nice … but the golf really stunk. Fortunately, I believe that Duncan will give me a re-match.

 



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Mar. 12, 2009, 8:27 am

The Purpose

A couple of weeks ago, we had a new resource join the team, Rick Maas (rmaas@genoalights.com, VP of Marketing). Rick was most recently the VP of marketing at Vectren Source (Vectren is the gas utility company for much of Indiana), and he's a real "C" level guy. Along with my buddy George at Brandwidth, Rick is one of the most creative guys I know. Besides his passion for motorsports and sports promotions, Rick has also previously served as the general manager for several AA and AAA baseball teams in the Seattle Mariners' organization.  Anyhow, welcome aboard Rick!

 

So recently, in the context of getting a new partnership drive kicked off (enabled with the addition of Rick to the team), we spent quite a bit of time talking about "Who are we", "What's our purpose", "What types of partners would most benefit from a relationship with us", etc. While it may sound a bit weird to talk about "who are we" and "what's our purpose", I think its pretty important to put those stakes in the ground. Without having these anchors solidly defined, it's so easy in this crazy business and in this crazy economy to let a lot of forces that are out of your control ultimately drive your decision making for you. Besides, while you intuitively know who you are and what your purpose is, it's always an interesting exercise to put it down on paper, especially if 3 or 4 people on a team try to do it and all come up with a slightly different answer.

 

Well, I'm proud of the process and I'm proud of the results. Spanning three decades (and soon to be four!), Genoa is first and foremost a top tier development league team. As such, Genoa's purpose is quite simply to promote it's drivers and partners. Genoa has long been known as a "driver's team", and one would be hard pressed to find a driver, a team owner, a partner, or a supplier that has had a bad experience. This is the Genoa legacy.

 

In the discussion about "The Purpose", though, we dug a bit deeper to really try to define what we meant by promoting our drivers ... our partners. We talked about how performance and reasonable costs were important so that we could attract winners. We talked about our repsonsibilities towards driver growth in not only talent, but in public relations, in character, in teamwork, in life. We talked about "representing well" ... the team, the partners, the League, the League's partners, the Event promoters, the fans, the Indianapolis community, the racing community, etc. We talked about commercial viability. Genoa is a business and not a hobby. For Genoa to achieve it's purpose year in and year out, it must remain commercially viable as an entity.

 

We talked about the unique 3-dimensional experience that comes from participation. Youtube can't capture it. The internet can't project it. You can only get it - taste it, hear it, smell it, touch it - by participating. We talked about how as a Firestone Indy Lights team to deliver the unique, 3D, IndyCar experience to our drivers and to our current and prospective partners.

 

We summed up Genoa's purpose: "To create and foster a unique space for drivers and team partners to showcase their talents, to grow, to engage, and to win".

 

In other news, we hope to have a couple of driver announcements very soon. Thanks for checking back - Mark.



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Jan. 24, 2009, 3:00 pm

2009 Racing Season Opens!

As I sit here watching the completion of the first hour of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, it's tough to believe that the 2009 season is upon us already! Between testing, talking to over 160 different drivers worldwide, putting together the support sponsorship deals, Thanksgiving, Christmas, prepping race cars, building a website, etc. the "off" season flew by faster than, well ... a Firestone Indy Lights race car at Indy.

 

A little over a week ago, all of the IndyCar officials, teams, drivers, and other support personnel assembled at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (with 2-inches of snow on the ground) for physicals and for the 2009 Annual Meeting. Yesterday, the transport left the shop for our next round of testing. We plan 2 days of road course testing at Palm Beach International Raceway on January 26th and 27th, and we plan 2 days of oval testing at the 1.5 mile Homestead-Miami Speedway. It was 11 degrees Fahrenheit this morning, so I think everyone is looking forward to some warmer weather.

 

So where are we at with our 2009 driver lineup? That's the first question on everyone's lips. Without wanting to jinx anything, we think we're within 2 weeks of announcing both seats (i.e. cars). Historically, there have always been a couple of very desireable and significantly subsidized seats, and the lineups of all teams would be up in the air until those seats are filled. However, with the economy affecting the primary business of many of the team owners, the subsidies have all but dried up for 2009. This has accelerated the signings for the 2009 season. Back in October, we estimated that there were 8 seats (naturally, 2 of which are ours) capable of winning the 2009 championship and 13 to 14 drivers capable of wining the championship. Now, it looks like there may be only 3 seats left for 5 to 6 drivers. Needless to say, the music has stopped, and its time for everyone to find a seat.

 

Speaking of the economy. Wow is it making things tough. There's no getting around the fact that racing is expensive. At the end of the day, it costs what it costs, and the committed racers will find a way to race. Much stress has been put on the driver and sponsor funding, and a small handful of big names may have no choice but to sit out 2009.

 

Well, enough doom and gloom. Expect daily updates from next weeks' testing. Bye for now! Mark.

 

 



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Jan. 24, 2009, 3:00 pm

You Heard It Here First!

Welcome to the new Genoa website. This is your source for the latest team news and driver and team blogs.  Everything you ever wanted to know about team Genoa you’ll find right here!

 

We'd like to thank Brandwidth for all their support of the team with freshening the team's brand and with the website. They're some of the most creative people I've ever met, and the research they put into the history and symbology of Genoa was second to none.

 

We plan to update the site daily with fresh news and content. Especially on race weekend, check back frequently for session results and behind-the-scenes action. Again, welcome to Genoa.



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