Let’s consider this a first person, “Eye of the Intern” take of a race weekend in scenic Lexington, Ohio, home of the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and well, not much else (besides rolling green hills, the occasional horse and buggy and lots of rain.)
In what I would like to refer to as a weekend summer camp in the heart of Ohio, I got the opportunity to showcase INDYCAR and the community that surrounds it to a few new INDYCAR fans. These three young men who traveled from near and far to take in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio were more familiar with that other league, NASCAR. The INDYCAR officials decided collectively that we wanted to invite some twitter-centric motorsport enthusiast out to a race weekend to experience some of the excitement and daily task that come along with being a part of this racing community. So here is a quick break down:
- Three guests (follow them on Twitter!) @Nascarcam, @TheCatchFence and @Stephen_Kelsey.
- Where: Three nights, two days in lovely Lexington, Ohio.
- What: tours, meet and greets, and meals with INDYCAR drivers, Race Director and (drum roll) CEO.
- Expected: Coverage via Twitter and other social networks on their experience in and around the INDYCAR Paddock’s, garages, media center, Race Control, Fan Village and other parts of the race weekend they experience. It was our desire to extend the line of communication between our fans on the internet, the ones in person at the track and those who are both!
So being the ‘I want to take the lead’ type of person that I am, I worked with others to plan, organize and schedule some activities for our guests to take part in. Here are a few of the opportunities our guests were able to take part in:
- Breakfast in the Paddock Club with CEO Randy Bernard, VP of Communications Amy Konrath, and myself.
- Tour of Race Control with Race Director Beaux Barfield. (Added bonus: Arie Luyendyk Sr. and Rick Mears happened to be in Race Control as well. INDYCAR Legends!)
- Tour of Mid-Ohio Media Tower and meet and greet with Public Relations Director for Mid-Ohio Jesse Ghiorzi (pronounced with a hard g-or-zee.)
- Access to an AJ Foyt Press Conference (announcing Chase Austin as a driver for the 2013 Indianapolis 500.)
- Meet and greet with TrueCar Racing’s Shea Holbrook, Katherine Legge and Shannon McIntosh.
- Tour, meet and greet with USF2000 Cape Motorsports driver Spencer Pigot.
- An additional meal and chat with Bernard.
- Garage and paddock tour with Pippa Mann.
- Access to the pits on race day.
Now after all of that, we were able to fully turn these NASCAR fans into adoring INDYCAR fans as well. The amount of positive feedback we received from the guests via Twitter (although cell reception was quite slow) the weekend they spent with us was top-notch and it has continued on since then.
— nascarcasm (@nascarcasm) August 4, 2012
— The Catch Fence ™ (@TheCatchFence) August 4, 2012
It was a positive and learning experience for me being able to take control and show our guests around this racing community we are all involved in and making it knowledgeable and enjoyable all at the same time. To be able to show the guests firsthand what not only the drivers have to do to prepare but other instrumental parts of this organization was a way to expand their expertise on motorsports and highlight what INDYCAR hopes to do differently and how we are hoping to take strides to connect more with our online following.
All in all, the experience of traveling with the Public Relations department and literally doing just that, relating with the public, will be one that won’t soon be forgot in my collection of INDYCAR memories.
Now, we just have to get these guys to change their twitter handles to something along the lines of @INDYCARCasm, or…ya know, something showcasing a love for the racing league with the best drivers in the world.