Tickets on sale for GP of NOLA today as Andretti and IndyCar complete weekend promotional blitz

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Tickets are officially on sale for the new Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana as of Monday, via http://www.gpofnola.com. A kickoff event was held today with Andretti Sports Marketing principal Michael Andretti and reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Will Power on site at NOLA Motorsports Park.

It capped off a weekend where the promotional blitz hit the Alabama-LSU college football game at Tiger Stadium and the 49ers-Saints game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome; unfortunately both LSU and the Saints lost their home games.

Nonetheless, that wouldn’t put a damper on the weekend where Andretti, himself, was excited about the new event’s prospects.

“It’s been really good – I’m quite surprised. There’s a ton of interest,” Andretti told MotorSportsTalk in an interview from New Orleans. “Even before tickets went on sale, they’ve signed up 2,000 people or so interesting in buying tickets. There’s a lot of interest and curiousity. There’s not a lot of big (racing) events.

“I think this is a big event, people will be surprised how big it will be,” he added. “It’s an untapped market. It will be a great place for our sponsors, to do entertainment for the customers. I think it will surprise some people.”

The NOLA Motorsports Park circuit is flat and wide, and can almost be entirely viewed from a grandstand seat. That will make it unique on the calendar; Andretti likened the potential to Cleveland’s old Burke Lakefront Airport, a popular staple on the North American open-wheel calendar from 1982 to 2007. Here’s a view of the track Power tweeted out from the plane:

Justin Wilson was down in New Orleans as well to promote the event on Saturday. Wilson doesn’t have his IndyCar program finalized for 2015 as yet – many would love to see him take up the fourth seat at Andretti Autosport after completing his third straight year at Dale Coyne Racing – but nonetheless, one of racing’s nicest, fastest and tallest drivers was all-too-happy to be asked to help promote the event.

“It’s the first time here and yeah, it’s huge. It’s so great to be here,” Wilson told MST. “At first, I thought I’m not sure it’s gonna work. It’s a new market for IndyCar. Not sure how many know what it’s about. But I’ve been very impressed and we’re making race fans, and you see actual young kids racing go-karts. I think it’s got a lot of potential. They like the party-like atmosphere, and I see it being a big success.”

“If anyone can make a new venue work, it’s Andretti Sports Marketing, as they’ve done well with the races they’ve done so far,” he added. “So this event will do just fine.”

It’s an interesting proposition for Wilson to be in this offseason, knowing he doesn’t have a deal sorted and is promoting a race that potentially, if he doesn’t get a deal together, he might not be racing in. But going down to New Orleans for the first time and having the opportunity to sell his sport is something he still jumped at.

“You’d always prefer to have your deal done and have a good time, but when they said go to the LSU game, and promote the race, I’m like, ‘Uh why are you asking me?’ I don’t know how I got selected, but I jumped at the chance,” Wilson said. “So it’s a good time, and it was cool to tell my friends I’m going to the LSU game.”

Here’s a social round-up of the pics from the weekend:

Ken Roczen signs with HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki for 2023

Roczen Progressive Ecstar Suzuki
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ANAHEIM, California – Ken Roczen will make the move from HRC Honda to H.E.P. Motorsports with the Progressive Ecstar Suzuki team, ending a long and eventful offseason that saw his split from his longstanding team after he committed to running World Supercross (WSX).

“H.E.P. Motorsports is thrilled to announce that the team has signed Ken Roczen as its premier rider for the 2023 season,” the team announced on Instagram. “Former AMA Motocross champion Roczen will be aboard a Suzuki RM-Z450. Roczen, who won his most recent championship on a Suzuki, will be reunited with the brand and bring his exciting style, determination, and grit back to the RM Army.

“Ken Roczen will compete in the upcoming 2023 Supercross and Motocross Championship series which is set to start on January 7 at Anaheim Stadium in Southern California.”

For Roczen, it is a return to the bike of his youth and on which he had some of his greatest professional success.

“This thing has been going on for weeks and weeks and weeks in the making, but there was so much uncertainty,” Roczen told NBC Sports during Monster Energy Supercross Media Sessions. “It was a very unique situation. I just finally signed two nights ago, so it’s really only legit once the ink hits the paper. It’s been in the works for a long time, but there were just a lot of questions and a lot of input from a lot of other teams too.

“Good things take time, and I’m okay with that. I grew up riding Suzuki. Ot’s like a homecoming. It’s a special feeling”

Roczen won the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship on a Suzuki before making the move to Honda. That year he won nine of 12 Nationals and finished no worse than second as he easily outpaced Eli Tomac by 86 points. He finished third in his next Pro Motocross outing in 2018 after sitting out the outdoor season in 2017.

“I am beyond excited to reconnect with Suzuki for the 3rd time in my career. We’ve had a lot of success in the past and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in our future.” Roczen said in the Instagram post.