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: