Starz TV Guide Join Unser

Galles Racing lost Tickets.com as a primary sponsor at the end of this year, but Starz Super Pak and Gemstar-TV Guide International stepped into the void and onto the side of Al Unser Jr.’s No. 3.

Owner Rick Galles and Unser Jr. made the announcement Friday in Indianapolis.

"We are very excited that Starz Super Pak has signed on as our primary sponsor for 2001," Galles said. "Their associate sponsorship in 2000 gave us a chance to show them the tremendous opportunities offered by motorsports and the Indy Racing Northern Light Series, in particular.

"This sponsorship is opening the doors for an entire new business to be involved in open-wheel racing, and that is extremely exciting. We are also thrilled about our newest sponsor, Gemstar-TV Guide International. They are a solid company that will undoubtedly be a benefit to our team and the series. We are proud that they have chosen Galles Racing to represent them for the first time in open-wheel racing. I want to thank our front office marketing staff for putting this fantastic sponsorship package together."

Gemstar-TV Guide International publishes TV Guide, the nation’s biggest magazine. Unser called the company’s associate sponsorship good for the team and the IRNLS is general.

"This announcement is not only positive for Galles Racing and myself, it is also another clear example of the strength of the Indy Racing Northern Light Series," said Unser, who finished ninth in the point standings in his first year in the IRNLS. "We are extremely proud to have Starz Super Pak as our primary sponsor and Gemstar-TV Guide International as the major associate sponsor for 2001. Starz Encore was very active with its associate sponsorship this past season and showed the Galles team a tremendous amount of support throughout the season.

"They were great to work with as an associate sponsor, and I can only imagine what they will deliver as the primary sponsor."

With the new sponsors comes a new paint scheme for Unser Jr.’s car.

It will be predominantly white, with black accents, much like the cosmetics of the 2000 car.

Mike Hale, senior vice president of marketing and business development at Starz Encore, said the sponsorship of "one of America's most storied and successful race teams, and Al Unser Jr., one of racing's greatest drivers," has been a good move for the company.

"Our 2000 associate sponsorship of Galles Racing and Al Unser Jr. was a good marketing investment for us," Hale said. "Now, we're moving forward in 2001with more passion and commitment as a primary sponsor."

In its first year with Galles, Hale estimated that Starz Encore Group hosted hundreds of customers at IRNLS events and exposed millions of newspaper and magazine readers to the company. Starz also developed race-related promotions for its cable and satellite affiliates and publicized its sponsorship to 67 million American homes.

"Going forward in 2001, we expect to do even more," Hale said.

It is that type of exposure and commitment that TV Guide plans, as well.

"When TV Guide looked for a way to bring the power of our brand together with a great American pastime, Galles Racing and the Indy Racing events seemed the perfect extension for us and for our affiliates," said Kevin McAuliffe, senior vice president of affiliate marketing with TV Guide. "We plan to take this sponsorship to a new level -- offering great opportunities for our operators across the country to get very involved with the sport, the fans and Al Unser Jr.

"We look forward to a great year with Galles and Al Unser, Jr."

TV Guide sponsored Kevin Lepage in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series this year with Roush Racing, but will not return next season. Instead, the publication is making its first foray into open-wheel racing.

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