Morning reading: April 23, 2010

Got some good stories out there this morning…Here’s a few for you to check out over coffee.

Tony Johns at Pop Off Valve has a great piece on the art of drivers’ interaction with fans at the racetrack and its importance for the IZOD IndyCar Series going forward. While one would think that a more “grassroots” approach like signing autographs and having face-to-face conversations with fans is no longer a primary importance with IZOD pushing the series, it’s still quite critical. If the IRL’s platform grows in the next few years, then its drivers and teams have to continue to make a positive impact on the people that spend their hard-earned cash to see them race.

Team Penske will have Shell backing on their machines in 2011. The oil giant has moved their sponsorship in NASCAR to Penske Racing, and as part of the deal, they’ll be an associate sponsor for The Captain’s IndyCar effort. Here’s the skinny from Autosport.

Mark Wahlberg and AquaHydrate’s presence at last week’s “Race to the Party” on Hollywood Boulevard was more than just a one-off appearance. The actor and the high-performance sports water company (of which Wahlberg is a business partner in) have announced a “strategic marketing alliance” with IZOD to promote IndyCar. Check out the PR release…Let’s just hope this isn’t a Gene Simmons situation all over again.

Finally, some IndyCar flavor will return to Surfer’s Paradise later this year. Ryan Briscoe, Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, and Alex Tagliani (as well as former Indy 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve and Champ Car legend Sebastien Bourdais) will be involved in the V8 Supercars’ round at the Gold Coast in October. Story’s up on RACER Magazine’s site.