Forrest Lucas eager to expand IndyCar reach

With all due respect to the rest of the world, Forrest Lucas is

glad American Ryan Hunter-Reay won the IndyCar championship.

Lucas is the co-founder of Lucas Oil, which among other things

has the naming rights to the Indianapolis Colts’ football stadium.

He has a long history of involvement in racing, from sponsoring

race teams and building tracks to sponsoring races and creating

racing television programming.

Though his products are sold in 26 countries, Lucas couldn’t

have been happier when Hunter-Reay became the first American since

Sam Hornish in 2006 to win an IndyCar title.

”I think it’s very important that we have American names out

there again,” Lucas said. ”We still need to have a little Formula

One and some of that atmosphere to it, but it needs to be an

American company for people here to root for it because people are

watching to see their guy win.”

Lucas spoke during the ”Lunch with Lucas” program during the

International Motorsports Industry Show on Friday.

Part of the program focused on Lucas’ patriotism. The U.S. flag

has been a part of the Lucas Oil shield since it was created in

1989 and the company’s branding statement is ”American Real.”

Lucas hopes he can play a part in bringing U.S. fans back to

IndyCar racing.

”I think Indy racing kind of got off track years ago,” he

said. ”Americans stopped watching Indy racing. They started

watching NASCAR and NHRA and things like that, so I think it’s very

important that we have the Americans back in it, and it’s extremely

important that we’re getting a lot of traction here.”

Lucas also owns MAVTV, which has naming rights for the IndyCar

race in Fontana, Calif. American driver Ed Carpenter won the 2012

race, Hunter-Reay finished fourth, American Graham Rahal was sixth

and another U.S. driver, Marco Andretti, was eighth. MAVTV has

naming rights for two more years.

In June 2013, Lucas plans to launch Lucas Oil Network, an

Internet television network that will offer a heavy dose of racing

programming.

”In a time when motorsports are a little down, we are going

forward just full bore,” Lucas Oil spokesman Stuart Rowlands

said.

Lucas explained that television is facing an uncertain

future.

”There’s a huge flux in television,” he said. ”Nobody really

knows where it’s going. Everybody’s guessing and betting, and

there’s going to be a lot of people with their handhelds.”

Rowlands said Lucas Oil Network would immediately increase the

company’s reach.

”They’re trying as hard as they can and this is the obvious way

to do it,” he said. ”If we can’t build the racetracks over there

and there’s no local television or cable networks, hey, if you can

show your product on the internet, you can watch it on the

computer.”

Lucas expects MAVTV to remain successful, but he’s preparing for

the day that television becomes less prominent.

”I wish everybody could watch television, but so many people

are going to quit watching television and start watching internet

television,” he said. ”We’re trying to cover all bases. We’re not

abandoning standard television, we’re just trying to get out there

and get the rest of it because we are a worldwide company and we

want to get more worldwide. We’re just trying to be good

businessmen.”