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IndyCar, the sanctioning body of the annual open-wheel auto-racing series that includes the Indianapolis 500 and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, is opening an office in Santa Monica to make inroads into Hollywood.
Former NASCAR exec Sarah Nettinga is switching leagues to head the office as senior vp media and entertainment for IndyCar Entertainment.
Nettinga managed production for the stock-car league for the films NASCAR: The Imax Experience (2004) for Warner Bros.; Herbie Fully Loaded (2005) for Disney; and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006) for Sony (on which she received an executive producer credit). For television, she was responsible for such series as NASCAR Driver: 360 for FX.
IndyCar drivers come from around the world. The stars include American heartthrob Danica Patrick, Scotland’s Dario Franchetti (the husband of actress Ashley Judd), England’s Scott Dixon and Brazilian Helio Castroneves, a three-time Indianapolis 500 champ.
IndyCar execs say this diverse driver roster and the sport’s speed, innovation and technology represent a “treasure box of content opportunities that will drive interest from the Hollywood community.”
“If we want to grow the sport, we need to be fully vested in relationships with the entertainment community that can tell the storylines of our sport,” IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said Tuesday. “This will be a one-stop shop to pursue opportunities and make deals across multiple business lines and entertainment outlets.”
One such opportunity could be the centennial Indy 500, which takes place May 29.
Before NASCAR, Nettinga was a production executive at Warner Bros. International Television. She also has worked for Columbia TriStar Television, CBS, Petry Television, Westinghouse International and Sony International Television.