Monday, July 19, 2010

Honda Indy Toronto: The Seats

It's a known fact that attendance at the Indy has been in decline ever since the split between the two factions, CART and IndyCar in 2001. Molson's Brewery pulling out as the sole promoter back in 2005 certainly didn't help either. Over the last few years, grandstands have been removed and consolidated in an attempt to make them look fuller to the viewing TV audience. Normally I would buy the special photo-pass available to the general public, but for the last few years this too hasn't been available.
And this year, since I was attending by myself, I didn't want to fork over the cash for gold tickets. I tried to get media accreditation through The adventures of Mad Mal and Hobbes, but unfortunately that did not pan out.
Friday admission to the grounds and all grandstands this year, was paid for by Honda Canada. I decided to take advantage of this. This year there were a couple of new grandstands to choose from, so I decided that I would try them all and see the view that each provided.
I was so impressed with the new views, that I decided to purchase a ticket in the Dr. Pepper grandstand which was located on the final turn 11, right before the front straight and the start/finish line. The grandstand was right by the Honda bridge to the infield and had an amazing view of the pits as well as a huge TV monitor to keep track of what was going on elsewhere on the track during the race.
I have to say I was very impressed with my choice in seats.

Here is the view from my seat.
They called it the Dr. Pepper section because it was sponsored by the soft drink company. And one of the perks with sitting in the Dr. Pepper section was you could drink all the Dr. Pepper you wanted while in the grandstand area.
On Sunday, as an added bonus, we were given a free Dr. Pepper t-shirt, and a free slice of pizza from Pizza Pizza.
But the coolest thing about going with the Dr. Pepper seats? It got me a tour of the Andretti Autosports garage, because they sponsor Marco Andretti. Who knew?
Those of us who had paddock passes and had arrived early, were treated to a guided tour behind the barriers of the Andretti Autosports garage. Good thing we all had our Dr. Pepper t-shirts because part of the requirement to get in was we had to wear them. A small price to pay as far as I was concerned. Some of the cool facts: The drivers steering wheel is their central hub for information about the car, and relays information from the team and track control to the driver. It is worth about $10,000.The top two paddles are for changing gears, the bottom two are for push to pass and pit speed limiter, but can be set up any way the driver desires.Teams use different brake set-ups for different tracks.Everything is super light weight. The entire car weighs approx. 1500 lbs. without a driver.Every component is monitored by computers, so that engineers can learn how a car responds to certain tracks and figure out how to set the car up accordingly to get the best out of it under those specific track conditions.All put together an Indy car is worth about $800,000. And a bare bones team needs about $8-10 million a year to run it, with some of the bigger teams spending somewhere in the range of $20-30 million a year. Wow.
And as a final treat, thanks to my great Dr. Pepper seats, we were taken for a meet and greet with Andretti Autosports driver, Marco Andretti in the private Andretti pit suites. Marco Andretti took the time to pose for pictures with each of us and sign autographs.
How cool was that?
A great job goes out to the Honda Indy Toronto for bringing Dr. Pepper on board as a long term sponsor for this event. It's an expensive weekend, and added bonuses like this really go a long way in making the average fan feel like they got good value for their hard earned money.

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