Fisher Hooks A Ride
June 25, 2002 | 12:00 A.M. EST
Fisher competed in the Firestone Indy 225 in April at Nazareth, Pa., and in the Indianapolis 500 in May with Indianapolis-based Dreyer & Reinbold Racing as a teammate to driver/co-owner Robbie Buhl. Fisher will continue as Buhl's teammate for the remaining seven races of the 2002 IRL season.
"It's no secret that we've had an interest in getting Sarah back in the car," Buhl said. "We want to make sure she's competing. The best way to grow our professional relationship, and present her to new sponsorship opportunities, is to have her compete on the track."
Fisher's primary sponsor for the Richmond race will be SunTrust Bank. Old World Industries brand SmartBlade premium wiper blades will become the primary sponsor for the remainder of the season, starting at the Ameristar Casino Indy 200 on July 7 at Kansas Speedway.
Associate sponsors include Allegra and Purex, both of which will continue their support from the Fisher's earlier run at Indianapolis. Other new associate sponsors include Jack K. Elrod Company and Old World Industries' brands Splitfire Spark Plugs and Peak Antifreeze.
"I'm thrilled to be back in the car and to be renewing my affiliation with the Dreyer and Reinbold team," Fisher said. "We've developed a good chemistry, and I know they share my commitment to fielding a first-class race team that produces results. I'm appreciative of the sponsors, both new and continuing, for supporting our efforts to rejoin the competition."
Fisher, 21, a native of Commercial Point, Ohio, finished fourth at Nazareth in her first race with Dreyer & Reinbold this season, filling in for the injured Buhl following his concussion at the Yamaha Indy 400 in March at Fontana, Calif.
In May, Fisher became the fastest woman ever to qualify for the Indianapolis 500, with a speed of 229.439 mph, and started ninth in the team's G Force/Infiniti/Firestone entry.
"We're fortunate to combine long-term Dreyer and Reinbold partners with new sponsorship additions for Sarah's car," said Dennis Reinbold, co-owner of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. "It's been a time-consuming process, but our integrated marketing efforts with the team, the league and our external marketing experts have provided a solid foundation."
SmartBlade premium wiper blades is a new product for Northbrook, Ill.-based Old World Industries and has a revolutionary safety feature that allows a driver to be warned about wiper wear.
"Sarah Fisher and the Indy Racing League are perfect choices for the SmartBlade brand and Old World Industries," said Jeffrey Stauffer, vice president of marketing for Old World Industries. "We have a rich history in motorsports and look forward to having Sarah and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing represent us professionally both on and off the track."
SunTrust Bank was eager to become involved with Fisher's return to the track for the Richmond race. In addition to serving as title sponsor for the Richmond race and as sponsor of an additional promotion that includes Fisher's teammate, Buhl, there was strong company encouragement by the Richmond-area SunTrust staff to assist Fisher's return to RIR.
"Last year was our first year as the title sponsor for an IRL race, and we're all a little new to this," said William C. Thornton Jr., senior vice president and director of marketing for SunTrust Bank, Mid-Atlantic. "We met Sarah through casual interactions with our employees last year, and you admire the way she handles herself both on and off the track. When we saw the reaction by fans and employees to Sarah, both locally here last year and at Indy this May, we knew we had to pull out all the stops to make this happen."
A new addition to the car, both for Richmond and the remainder of the season, is the Indianapolis-based Jack K. Elrod Company, an established Indiana company providing a variety of event-structure services for sporting events and mass special events. Elrod also erected the first Steel and Foam Energy Reduction (SAFER) barriers at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this spring, and hopes to market its ability to erect the walls, as well as its traditional grandstand business, at racetracks around the country.
"Sarah Fisher has the ability to fill grandstands, and we're among the best in the business of building them - it's just a natural fit," said Jeff Elrod, president of Jack K. Elrod Company. "We saw a young talent sitting on the sidelines and wanted to ensure she had the ability to compete in the major leagues of professional auto racing by providing sponsorship support to the Dreyer and Reinbold team."
With Fisher's ride with the team now secured throughout the 2002 season, Buhl and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing are ready to concentrate on the competitive arena.
"It's time for us to take care of the issues at hand," Buhl said. "We're in this business to win races, and with most of the administrative process now behind us, we're all ready to focus on putting our cars into the winner's circle."