Notes: ISM Connect acquires naming rights for Phoenix Raceway

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Phoenix Raceway and ISM Connect, a pioneer in smart venue technology, announced a multiyear partnership Tuesday that includes naming rights for the track and installation of a groundbreaking digital fan engagement experience. Beginning in 2018, the 1.022-mile oval that hosts the Verizon IndyCar Series will be known as ISM Raceway.

ISM’s 360° Connect network will provide the venue – which is in the midst of a $178 modernization facelift – with advanced, robust technology and data capabilities to create meaningful connections between fans, partners and the venue itself. This will be done through digital display screens, interactive experiences, social media integrations and a mobile app that will give fans access to unique content, in-seat ordering, and more. 

“We’re focused on building a world-class facility and the partnership with ISM will further enhance our technology capabilities and create opportunities to better engage with fans,” said Bryan Sperber, Phoenix Raceway president. “ISM Raceway will serve as a premier motorsports and entertainment destination for generations to come.”

The ISM Connect network will power various fan activations and experiences throughout the venue, including the new infield Fan Zone, new pedestrian tunnel connecting the infield to the new seating areas and one of the two new Canyons – the immersive and interactive entrances.

“This partnership underscores our commitment to strengthening relationships and communication between venues, fans, partners and brands through innovative digital solutions,” said Jeff Hutchins, ISM Connect vice president of operations. “ISM Raceway, powered by ISM Connect’s digital engagement network, will revolutionize how large venues connect every piece of their technology in order to gather and analyze data with the goal of improving the fan experience.”

Dixon among latest athletes honored at Great Sports Legends dinner

Four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon was one of seven iconic athletes recognized for their accomplishments during the 32nd Great Sports Legends dinner on Monday night in New York.

Honored along with the Chip Ganassi Racing star were recent pro football hall of fame inductee Jason Taylor, retired Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, Olympic champion gymnast Simone Biles, basketball hall of famer Alonzo Mourning, U.S. women’s soccer standout Abby Wambach and tennis champion Kim Clijsters.

The dinner, hosted by Bob Costas, benefits The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis, which has raised more than $350 million to fund research programs at The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. The fund is named for NFL hall of fame linebacker Nick Buoniconti, who helped found and serves as a national spokesman and fundraiser after his son Marc suffered a devastating spinal cord injury in 1985.

Previous honorees include Indy car drivers Mario Andretti and Helio Castroneves, as well as sporting greats Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Willie Mays, Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Cal Ripken Jr., Jack Nicklaus, Wayne Gretzky, George Foreman, Joe DiMaggio, Joe Namath, Dan Marino, Pat Riley and many more.

Kanaan named to Sports Illustrated “Fittest 50” list

Tony KanaanTony Kanaan has once again helped break the misguided notion that race car drivers are not athletes. The 42-year-old Brazilian, who just completed his 20th year driving Indy cars, was named to Sports Illustrated’s “Fittest 50” that identifies the 50 most fit men and women in all of sports right now.

A panel of trainers, strength and conditioning coaches and performance experts ranked athletes based on their performance in the past 12 months as well as the demands of their particular sport and training regimens.

Kanaan, who competes in triathlons to maintain his shape for the grueling demands of Indy car racing, was ranked 49th on the list of the 50 “fittest” men. The 2004 Verizon IndyCar Series champion and 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner was cited for his endurance competitions and working out in the gym several times a week a stay in peak physical condition.

Check out the listing here.

Charitable efforts raise nearly $80,000 on Sonoma race weekend

Charitable programs combined to raise more than $79,000 for local youth groups during the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season finale at Sonoma Raceway from Sept. 15-17.

Proceeds from the majority of events will benefit Sonoma County youth organizations through the Sonoma Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities (SCC), the charitable arm of the raceway that has distributed more than $5.6 million to local youth-serving non-profit groups since 2001.

SCC partnered with the Michael Andretti Foundation to host the IndyCar Grand Prix Salute Banquet at Andretti Winery in Napa, California. The star-studded evening included a Q&A session with Andretti Autosport drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alexander Rossi and Takuma Sato, as well as three generations of Andrettis: Mario, Michael and Marco. The event raised more than $56,000.

An online charity auction featuring autographed memorabilia, unique collectibles and weekend VIP experiences, brought in $6,100 before the weekend kicked off, with an additional $580 raised through various donations. In addition to the proceeds generated for six local non-profit groups earned nearly $17,000 by working Sonoma Raceway concession stands on race weekend.

From the fans