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:

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).