Auto Club Speedway debuting two-story slide

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If you dropped $899 before Friday for a Pit Box Lounge package to this weekend’s NASCAR races at Auto Club Speedway, then you’re likely enjoying, among other things, delectable buffet meals, pre-race pit passes — and a two-story slide.

The 40-foot, curly-q slide starts from a rooftop suite located at the entrance of pit road and drops riders at the Victory Lane Bar, where fans can get unlimited beer and wine that comes with the price of the ticket package.

It’s all part of a trend in NASCAR that revolves around premium packages that go far beyond just getting you past the gates. As Louis Brewster of the Los Angeles Daily News reported earlier this week, multiple other tracks along the circuit have created their own high-dollar fan experiences that combine standard aspects like unlimited eats and drinks with more unique elements such as Daytona’s Victory Lane seat and Phoenix’s hand-rolled cigars.

“We’re always looking to create out-of-the-box experiences for fans and partners that are unique; there’s no doubt a 40-foot slide is just that,” ACS president Gillian Zucker told Brewster about her track’s signature premium feature. “It’s fast too. It’s no kiddie slide.”

MRTI: Keith Donegan earns Mazda Shootout Scholarship

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”

The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.

“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”

Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.

Follow @KyleMLavigne