Time To Buy Another Tony Kanaan Die-Cast

By Susan Phillips

Greetings from somewhere in northern Alabama! I’m wrapping up my last week of overnight travel until January. I don’t get to read as much about what’s going in the IndyCar world on the road, as I normally would at home. Slow hotel wi-fi makes it slow and difficult enough to upload my reports for work. I wouldn’t dare waste time and bandwidth on one of my hobbies. Fortunately, George and Facebook keep me up to date about anything big in IndyCar.

When we talked Wednesday night, he was telling me about how Tony Kanaan will be back in the #10 car, but it won’t be a Target car anymore. What!!?? There has been a #10 Target car in the ten years I’ve been a fan.

My first year to go to the Indy 500 was in 2004, when George took his daughter and I took my oldest son Eric. I had to ask George to remind me who drove the #10 car that day. He says it was Darren Manning, so I’m assuming it was. Tony Kanaan didn’t win the race that day. He finished second, but you would have thought he finished last by the way Eric acted. I’m still not sure why, but Eric became a Tony Kanaan fan that day. Ten years later, if Tony Kanaan crashes out of a race, Eric wants to leave. Eric was crushed that the race was called early. He swears that Kanaan would’ve caught and passed Buddy Rice if the race had gone 200 laps.

After all this time, Eric is still a Tony Kanaan fan. We have practically every die-cast Tony Kanaan car that’s been made, including the Hulk car that I think was driven only once. We have several versions of the 7-Eleven car, the lime green Geico car and the Hydroxycut car that Kanaan won Indy in. That one is cool because it has a little Tony Kanaan figure to go with it. Most of these, Eric has managed to track Tony down to get his autograph on each car.

When TK moved over to the Target car, I dug deep and bought him one and was able to get it autographed as well. I was thinking that this would probably be the last Kanaan car we would be buying since Eric is now 24 and Kanaan is probably with his last team before he retires.

But no…George tells me that Kanaan will be driving the NTT Data car next year. You know what that means. Yep. We’re going to be hunting down another one next May and Eric is going to have to hunt Tony down again for another autograph on one of his cars.

But that’s not the only reason I am disappointed about this move. I felt like Tony Kanaan would retire a Target driver. It made me want to shop at Target that much more. George says that 1994 was the last year that there was only one Target car. Apparently Michael Andretti drove it. I had no idea that Andretti ever drove for Chip Ganassi. Who knew?

But now they are down to one again. Is this a bad sign? Are they scaling back? Will it get worse next year?

My husband says that Target is going to use the extra cash to promote their involvement in racing and if they do it right it could be a good thing. He talked about how they used to have good commercials in the 90’s and it was good pub for the whole series. He doesn’t seem that concerned, but to me it seems like they are cutting back.

I have seen this sport through the eyes of a fanatic for many years. I know that over the years, I’ve seen sponsors with big names come and go. Danica had Argent Mortgage and then Motorola before she left with Go Daddy. I remember Pennzoil being around before they disappeared. But they did come back to Helio’s car last year at Indy for one race. Then there was 7-Eleven for years. Now they are gone.

It seems like I’ve never heard of the sponsors on cars now. Pippa Mann had Cyclops-Gear. It seemed like a neat idea, but I had never heard of them before they sponsored her for a few races. Now they’re gone. The e-cigs have been on a few cars, but they don’t sound familiar either. And I hate to say it, but I can’t tell you a thing about NTT Data. What happened to the beers? Where is Bud and Miller? I’d like to be able to support the sponsors of the drivers we like, but it’s hard to when you don’t even know what they do. I mean…what is Mi-Jack and where do I get one?

We will buy the NTT car next May and of course, we will all pull for Tony Kanaan in every race. But am I the only one that is not excited to cheer or the NTT Data car instead of the Target car of Tony Kanaan? I doubt it.

13 Responses to “Time To Buy Another Tony Kanaan Die-Cast”

  1. I am with you Susan. I have no idea what most of the new sponsors are about. I would like to see more sponsors that sell automotive products and beer and whiskey sponsors. Of course, these days other than craft brewers, most, if not all of the major beer manufacturers are owned by non-American companies.

    I thought it was embarrassing when Dario Franchitti drove a car sponsored by a diaper company.

  2. Phil Kaiser Says:

    Susan, I’m just like your son with my 50 year AJ Foyt collection, in fact just this morning I found out that Hot Wheels put out a1967 Ford Mk IV that Foyt won Le Mans with Dan Gurney in back in 1968; I can’t believe I hadn’t a clue all these years, and now I’m on the hunt for a near mint condition one for my collection! It’s a sickness I hope I never get a cure for, lol!

    I’ve read several comments about the Target situation on many racing blogs and these folks seem to be trying to talk themselves into believing that Target cutting back to one car in IndyCar for the first time in 20 years is a good if not great thing. Balderdash! George and all the rest should seriously worry because who has been a better IndyCar sponsor these past 20 years than Target? Unfortunately the hackers have done almost irreparable damage to Target’s “brand” (I was in Target management ten years ago and they’re all about their “brand”) and they haven’t let the cat outta the bag as to how bad the hack really was. They are now trying to save their entire company without alarming their shareholders, which means keeping at least a portion of sponsorship out there and visible. But if folks don’t think this is big news for IndyCar they’re either dreaming or sticking their heads in the sand (Apologies George!).

    Keep ’em coming, Susan! Love the female perspective, if I can be so bold!

    Phil Kaiser

  3. billytheskink Says:

    Target is clearly cutting back this year. This is not a good thing, though given their announcement, I do hope to see a racing-oriented TV commercial from them (a silver lining?). Whether those cutbacks will continue probably depends on the health of their vendor partnerships, which have paid for a considerable amount of their sponsorship in both Indycar and NASCAR. If vendor logos remain plentiful on Scott Dixon’s car, I would be much less worried about future cutbacks. If the number 9 starts looking like Kyle Larson’s Nationwide car did most of last year (only Cartwheel by Target logos), then I’d be quite worried.

    Look at old photos of the Newman-Haas K-Mart cars, especially from 1998 to the sponsorship’s end in 2001. While K-Mart had other issues that contributed to its decision to end racing sponsorships, it is no coincidence that the 2000 and 2001 cars were all but devoid of the vendor logos that were once so common. In 1998, the Newman-Haas cars had logos from Coca-Cola, Gillette, Colgate, Duracell, Windex, and Kodak in addition to K-Mart. Christian Fittipaldi’s lovely “blue light special” car in 2001 had no vendor logos in addition to K-Mart. Had K-Mart been able to keep their vendors interested, as Target has over the years, they probably would have continued to sponsor Newman-Haas.

  4. Chris Lukens Says:

    Is it good news that a long time sponsor cuts back? No, it’s not. But before we all run lemming like over that cliff lets remember that NTT ( Nippon Telegraph & Telephone ) Data is one of, if not the, largest software providers in the world. Annual sales in the $14 Billion range. Financially these guys are no lightweights.

  5. Another way of looking at this is; what if we started seeing Target commercials featuring IndyCars in them? Something we have not seen from Target in a long time considering how long they have been involved. I have to admit though when I first read they were pulling sponsorship on one car, my pessimism defaulted and kicked in as I feared the worst.

  6. The money that makes up Target’s advertising budget for racing mainly comes from co-op advertising. All of the products on the cars, like Cottonelle, Reese’s, Kelloggs, Gillette, Philips, ect.. are providing the lion’s share of the budget. Those companies get race weekends and Ganassi hospitality at the races as well. With that pointed out, there must be a refocus of those dollars because they are still there somewhere.

    BTW, I noticed that this past year the Ganassi swag was now the Champion clothing line, which is what Target carries.

  7. When IndyCar gets interesting enough to bring back the fans the sponsorship dollars will come back too. The stockholders and management of large consumer companies have high expectations for return on advertising dollars and I/C simply can’t provide the necessary return. The Target $$$$ are probably being reallocated to NASCAR and Kyle Larson, another open-wheel star who went the way of NASCAR because the is no perceived future in I/C.

  8. Hi Susan. I do understand. I have tried to not start collecting, but I did get as presents Dario’s #10 Target and Hinch’s Go Daddy cars in 1/18th scale. Just found on EBay Pagenaud’s HP car (and thought of you and George at Fontana in ’13), but only in 1/43 size. Had to have it. Eric is lucky to have such a cool mom. Cheers.

  9. I can, in no way, spin it as good news when a sponsor drops off a car but I do hope George (and others) are correct. We have long needed sponsors who do more than give money to teams. I stopped looking for IndyCar diecasts at Target years ago and always found it odd that they didn’t promote the hell out of being so big into the series. I had hopes that Izod would launch a massive line of racing related clothing but we all know how that went. Maybe this will be a good thing, maybe it will not, but I will continue to try and support those who support the sport I love. One other note, yes I do have a pair of Cyclops Gear glasses. 😎

  10. You wouldn’t need a Mi-Jack anyway. It’s a brand of cranes for the displacement of freight containers.

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