The NTT IndyCar Series’ top 22 entries will see a welcome increase in the value of each Leaders Circle contract paid by Penske Entertainment.
The socialized financial distribution program, which debuted in the 2000s while the series was owned by the Hulman George family, pools the majority of prize money that would be paid across the entirety of the championship and divides it evenly among those who finished inside the top 22 in the previous season’s entrants’ championship.
In 2022, the payout per Leaders Circle contract was $1,060,000, and to the great displeasure by many of IndyCar’s team owners, Penske Entertainment chose to cut $150,000 from each contract for 2023, saving itself $3,300,000 in total, which was rerouted to its internal marketing budget.
Public awareness of the downsized $910,000 contracts drew the ire of the series, and with teams due to receive their new contracts towards the end of January, IndyCar and Penske Entertainment CEO Mark Miles says teams will be happier when the documents arrive for review.
“Typical funding will be restored,” Miles told RACER. “We’ll maybe have some news about the total amount, but it’ll be seven figures. And there will not be a deduction for help with promotions.”
The increase comes at an important time for many of the independent business owners who compete in IndyCar. With the mid-season move to hybrid engines and the significant costs to upgrade each chassis to meet IndyCar’s 2024 specification, the seven-figure Leaders Circle payouts will assist those 22 entries to offset some of the hybrid-related expenses.
In a normal season where a major formula change does not take place, annual operating budgets have fallen in the $6-$11 million range per car, and as a number of team owners have told RACER, the low end of that range is likely to reach $7 million during the upcoming season due to the technology changes and their associated costs.