IndyCar takes media rights in-house after Alonso and McLaren pull out

US motorsport series IndyCar has announced it will sell its international media rights in-house in 2019 following its hire of former ESPN International executive Heather White.

The ESPN International agency has held international rights to IndyCar since 2001 and was strongly interested in renewing its deal. White left her role at ESPN in June and joined IndyCar as a media rights consultant last month.

IndyCar had been keen to change its international distribution partner since May, holding discussions with the IMG agency and the now-defunct MP & Silva agency over a new deal.

Much of this interest hinged on IndyCar attracting new manufacturers that would have more a global appeal. Rumours had swirled in the motorsport industry that Alfa Romeo and Kia were interested in joining the series from 2019.

However, the most important factor for major agencies was the potential signing of British supercar manufacturer McLaren along with Spanish former Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso, who raced the Indianapolis 500 race this year.

This had long looked the most likely improvement from 2019, but McLaren team boss Zac Brown publicly ruled out this possibility on October 18. It is understood White was hired shortly before this public announcement. The decision to take the media rights in-house was announced on November 5.