IndyCar & Cleveland. It’s a combination that I personally, am a big fan of. The Cleveland Auto Show opens to the public today at 11am and runs through March 9th. However, the excitement kicked off yesterday at the press preview. The Collection Auto Group, with many local & national accolades for their Mercedes-Benz and Maserati dealerships, announced that they were partnering with Bryan Herta Autosport as a sponsor for the 2014 IndyCar season. As a part of this pairing, Castrol will become the primary motor oil for The Collection Auto Group. Bryan Herta, founder of the 2011 Indianapolis 500 winning team, was on hand for the announcement.
According to the official news release, “To celebrate this new collaboration, the Bryan Herta Autosport #98 IndyCar will be on display throughout this year’s Cleveland Auto Show. For the 2014 season, the Bryan Herta Autosport team will be racing a Dallara Honda DW12 – powered by a new Honda V-6 Twin Turbo powerplant capable of speeds in excess of 230 mph. The midnight blue speedster will feature The Collection Auto Group’s logo at Mid-Ohio, the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, and the Indianapolis 500.”
The connection to Cleveland and Ohio in general is not a surprise when it comes to Bryan. Not only did he study at The Ohio State University but he finished on the podium at the Cleveland Grand Prix 3 times in the 8 times that he competed here. His best finish was 2nd in 1995, and then 3rd place in both 1997 and 2001. His racing team, Bryan Herta Autosport, put their car in Victory Circle at the Indianapolis 500 in 2011, with Dan Wheldon in the driver’s seat. This was Dan’s second victory at The Greatest Spectacle in Racing and the last of his career – his life was tragically cut short that October at the IndyCar Season Finale at Las Vegas Speedway. Dan’s achievement with BHA was pivotal in putting this team on the map, 2011 having been only the second year the team competed at IMS.
When I spoke to Jackie Studor, the Director of Marketing at CAG, during the press event yesterday, she mentioned that victory being one of the reasons this new sponsorship took place, saying that with Bryan Herta Autosport winning the 500 with such limited resources and being the underdog, as it were, there was that correlation between BHA and The Collection Auto Group. CAG started the same way – growing from one under-performing Mercedes-Benz dealership that Bernie Moreno took over, turning it into the #1 Mercedes-Benz dealership not only in Ohio, but in the Central USA market and additionally, growing the group to 25 dealerships in the Greater Cleveland area – making them a leader in the sales of exotic & luxury car brands.
I also inquired whether CAG may have started any conversation about the possibility of sponsoring or working with the city on bringing an IndyCar race back to Cleveland. Jackie stated that she wasn’t sure that was on the table right now but CAG would definitely be present at the Mid-Western events for IndyCar, adding, “… I’m sure if there’s potential there to bring it to Cleveland, we would love to do that.”
Obviously, nothing official in regards to even discussing the Cleveland Grand Prix making its return to IndyCar, but as you all know, I would love to see the Cleveland Circuit come back and just having this direct connection between Cleveland & IndyCar again is pretty exciting. In my eyes, at least the door has the potential to be knocked on now and that’s a brighter ray of hope than we’ve had in years. Patience is a virtue, right?
I hope you have the opportunity to stop by the Collection Auto Group’s display at the Cleveland Auto Show today or over the next week. Not only can you get your picture with the 2014 Bryan Herta Autsport DW12 IndyCar, but you can also enter to win tickets to an IndyCar race!
Don’t forget to check out the luxury vehicles on display from CAG as well – Maserati, McLaren, Bentley… you simply can’t go wrong taking a stroll down Millionaire’s Row.
Right next door is the Chevrolet display, with my favorite of the show on beautiful display – the Corvette Z06, decked out in its bright yellow paint job, making a loud statement to everyone within its view. It certainly commands attention. There are a few Stingrays on hand, as opposed to last year when I was very disappointed by their lack of presence in Cleveland. You can even take a seat in the white convertible or the cobalt blue coupe. I sat in both and I have to tell you, I never understood that whole concept of being in love with more than one person or thing at a time… until now.
You can check out more of my pictures from the Cleveland Auto Show’s Press Preview on Friday, February 28th by visiting my new Facebook page! You may already know that I am an avid (amateur) photographer and I love featuring my work in my articles here on More Than A Fan. More often than not, however, I have additional photographs from events that I would like to share with you but don’t fit into the articles. So I have created a Facebook page where I will be posting photo albums to compliment certain articles – I hope you enjoy them. Please like the page, comment on the photos and share them on Facebook with your friends!