Cheever Riding With Red Bull

It didn’t answer all the questions fans hoped it would, but Eddie Cheever Jr. announced late Tuesday that Red Bull energy drink would sponsor his team next season in the Indy Racing Northern Light Series.

“In this endeavor, we are incredibly excited to partner with Red Bull, the world leader in energy drinks,” said Cheever, who was sponsorless for most of 2001. “Red Bull has successfully built a motorsports marketing plan for their product, and we are proud to be the focus of their U.S. efforts.”

The OrangeArrows Formula One team announced Friday that Red Bull, its sponsor, would also sponsor Cheever Indy Racing in the IRNLS. Both revelations lacked specifics.

It is not known if Red Bull will be a primary or associate sponsor of Cheever’s car, or if it is a one-race deal in the Indy 500 for a second car. The length of the deal was not disclosed, and no mention was made of a possible second driver in the Cheever Indy Racing stable.

Johnny Herbert, Arrows’ test driver, has been lobbying for a ride in America, and with Red Bull branching out to the IRNLS, bringing Herbert along makes for a natural evolution. That’s one rumor. Another rumor, that Cheever would be a driver for another team, seems to have been debunked, as it is clear Cheever Indy Racing will carry on.

“The origin of this announcement dates back to when (Arrows president) Tom Walkinshaw and I first worked together in the late 1980s,” Cheever said. “Driving sports cars for him, we broke a 30-year winless streak for Jaguar. Our paths have crossed again, and this time we are focused on helping Nissan become the first Japanese manufacturer to win the Indianapolis 500.

“Red Bull is now involved with two of the world's largest single-day sporting events, the Indianapolis 500 with Cheever Indy Racing and the United State Grand Prix with the OrangeArrows Formula One team.”

Cheever himself added to the mystery.

“This is only the first step in our plans for the 2002 season,” he said. “We are continuing to pursue a variety of other sponsorship opportunities to further strengthen the team. We hope to roll out our entire program with a formal announcement later in the offseason.”

In 2001, Cheever started the season with Excite as his primary sponsor. That ended after the Indianapolis 500. Scott Goodyear joined the team to drive a second car at Indianapolis with Thermos Grill2Go on board as sponsor.

Cheever finished out 2001 without a primary sponsor, but that didn’t stop him from winning the inaugural race at Kansas Speedway in July. The win helped him finish eighth in the final points standings, and he believes he can do better than that in 2002.

“Next year's competition is going to be fierce in the Indy Racing League, but with the technical tools that Nissan, TWR and Cheever Indy Racing have at hand we are confident we will make a serious run at winning the Indianapolis 500 and the series championship,” Cheever said.

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