The future became a bit clearer Thursday, as executives from IMSA inked a five-year deal with Tudor Watches to become the title sponsor of the newly renamed United SportsCar Championship.
Announced at Chicago’s Navy Pier, to kick off NASCAR Chase Media Day activities, IMSA President Scott Atherton joined Rolex Vice President Peter Nicholson and series chairman Jim France for the occasion, which coincided with the brand’s North American relaunch this evening in New York.
“The timing of this couldn’t be better, from the relaunch of the Tudor brand in North America and having the opportunity with the merging of the two series, one with a long tradition of Rolex involvement,” Atherton said. “The Rolex brand presence within sports car racing in North America continues in a very high level way. From a United SportsCar perspective, the opportunity for us has been Tudor right from the start.”
Tudor, a subsidiary of longtime GRAND-AM partner Rolex, became the official timekeeper of the FIA World Endurance Championship this year and now takes on an expanded role in North America through its involvement with USCC. Rolex, however, will continue its title sponsorship of the 24-hour race at Daytona, as well as being the official watch of the Twelve Hours of Sebring.
Atherton confirmed there are no plans to add a presenting sponsor to the series name, although he admitted that its partnership with Tequila Patron, which currently acts as presenting sponsor of the American Le Mans Series, is not necessarily going away. Monetary details of Tudor’s entitlement were not disclosed.
“This is the title partner arrangement that everybody strives for,” Atherton said. “We will have a very active partnership in that we are going to do unprecedented things to build the Tudor brand and I think it’s safe to say that Tudor is going to do unprecedented things to build the sports car championship brand.
“You will see an active alliance here, together, I think puts us in the best position sports car racing in North America has ever been. A five-year term that completely aligns with the five-year FOX Sports television announcement we had just two weeks ago. I’m not familiar in my era, at least, of that level of stability. To know that we are locked and loaded for the next five years, with more to come, puts us in a real good position.”
The other notable news to surface from Thursday’s announcement was a minor change in the series name, which has evolved from United SportsCar Racing to United SportsCar Championship. Atherton said there were a number of reasons behind the switch, with all partners taken into consideration.
“When we announced the name and the new brands back in March, we were careful to say that this is the name of the new, unified series but there will be a new chapter to be written when there’s a commercial component attached to it,” he said. “It was a process that we mutually arrived at how we would reference. The entitlement, of where it would be positioned and how it would be linked to the United SportsCar brand, as well.”
Atherton said the next big series announcement will be the 2014 schedule, although he would not commit to a specific release date. It’s expected, however, to be announced by next weekend’s ALMS race at the Circuit of The Americas.