Ruoff Home Mortgage ready to try and make it 2-for-2 at Indianapolis 500

Takuma Sato heads into the first turn during last year's Indianapolis 500. (Associated Press file photo)
President/CEO Mark Music of Ruoff Home Mortgage and Takuma Sato pose for a picture after Sato won the Indianapolis 500 last May. (Courtesy photo)
Indianapolis 500 champion Takuma Sato poses for photos at Indianapolis Motor Speedway one day after winning the 2017 event with the Ruoff Home Mortgage livery adorning his car. (Associated Press file photo)
Carlos Munoz, of Colombia will drive the car sponsored by Ruoff Home Mortgage for Andretti Autosport in this year's Indianapolis 500. (Associated Press file photo)

Last year, the month of May experience at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Ruoff Home Mortgage and its president/CEO Mark Music was condensed into a whirlwind week-long blitz.

When the sponsorship contract with Takuma Sato and Andretti Autosport was officially born barely seven days before the race, a lot of networking, hospitality events and media outreach had to be compressed into a short period of time.

“We were a late announcement last year…and we did the best we could to push the message in those days we had leading up to the race,” said Music. “We were flooding social media and ran a television campaign the weekend of the race, yet people were still discovering it was us on the side of the car on race day.”

Of course, when the end result is winning the Indianapolis 500 with Sato, the chaos was worth it.

But with a sponsorship program in place well in advance of May this year, Ruoff and Music will have the opportunity to not only enjoy the month but also maximize the sponsorship effectiveness for the Ruoff brand. According to Music, Ruoff’s business is up 30 percent this year in a market that has contracted 13 percent.

“The racing program, as well as things like the (Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center in Noblesville) sponsorship, have helped that growth,” Music said.

Opportunities abound as practice for the 102nd Indianapolis 500 begins today, with Columbian Carlos Muñoz piloting the Ruoff Home Mortgage Andretti Autosport Honda.

“In 2016 when we were trying to come to an agreement with Andretti Autosport, Carlos was the driver we were negotiating for,” Music said. “The odds to win the race back-to-back years are not very good. I mean, just winning the race is not very good odds. But we feel like we have as solid of a chance as anybody to be relevant in the race.”

After four full seasons in IndyCar from 2014-17, Muñoz enters this year’s Indianapolis 500 as a one-off entry for the 500. But his strength on the iconic oval is well established. In five Indy 500 starts, Muñoz has finished in the top 10 four times, including runner-up finishes in 2013 and 2016 running for Andretti Autosport.

Not all the benefits for Ruoff Home Mortgage come on the track at Indianapolis. Music praised Andretti Autosport for its efforts to get its corporate and racing partners together in a hospitality setting at various points of the month at the speedway.

“When you are back behind the scenes, it is very obvious which teams are the haves and which are the have-nots,” Music said. “The cars all look the same going around the track, but you get behind the curtain and you see the resources and infrastructure Andretti Autosport has to be able to host their sponsors and put them in a setting where they can interact and network and broker business-to-business deals. It’s pretty neat.”

As was the case last year, Ruoff Home Mortgage will continue to be a consistent presence on Andretti Autosport cars for the rest of the IndyCar season. Music said that Ruoff Home Mortgage will be Alexander Rossi’s primary sponsor for the dual Detroit Grand Prix races on June 9-10. The company will also be the primary sponsor on Marco Andretti’s car at Mid-Ohio in late July.

Ruoff will also be an associate sponsor for Andretti Autosport throughout the season.

But for now, Music and Ruoff Home Mortgage are focused on the big prize — competing for another Indianapolis 500 win.

“If Carlos can take care of the car for the first half of the race, when we get down to the end he will be ready to get up on the wheel and see what happens,” Music said. “We have reminded ourselves no matter what happens, even if Carlos gets taken out the first turn of the Lap 1, we were still the primary sponsor of the winning race car a year ago.

“It has been a lot of fun. It has been very positive in a lot of ways for the company.”

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