The inaugural Verizon Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana promises to be more than just a race with plenty of activities off the track for fans.
Consider its Fan Village the racing version of the Super Bowl’s NFL Experience.
From interactive IndyCar and product displays to autograph sessions with drivers, the scene off the track is expected to entertain as much as the speed and strategy of American open wheel racing. And of course, the walk through paddock, which is racing’s version of fans experiencing sports from right outside the “locker room.”
The layout at NOLA Motorsports Park places fans close enough to see and hear what’s occurring behind the scenes, including conversations between drivers and their engineers.
“The paddock is our temporary garage facility, and you’ll have first-hand opportunity to see the teams — race engineers, mechanics — working really hard to find that last millisecond of time and speed,” said Connel J. O’Donnell, who leads the marketing, communications and social media for IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“They strip these cars down to the frame and then put them back together within hours, which is fascinating.”
It’s proved as a great mechanism to not only draw children, but keep them entertained with interactive experiences.
“You can’t just rely on race cars going around the track,” said former IndyCar driver Paul Tracy, now in his second year as a racing analyst for NBC Sports. “IndyCar and NASCAR realize that. They have to have something more to offer the fans than just a car race.
“You’ve got to be able to draw in the guy who loves racing, but also entertain his girlfriend or wife.”
Said series defending champion Will Power, who will race Team Penske’s No. 1 car: “Every race has a different atmosphere, and the fans have a lot to do with that. It’s definitely a good destination, and I think people are excited about coming down there. It’s a fine track, too.”