Penske Entertainment’s purchase of the NTT IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will have a tangible feel at next month’s season-opening race at St. Petersburg when the Indy 500’s tradition of holding public drivers’ meetings will be applied to every race on the 2020 calendar.
The new practice it set to launch at the March 13-15 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
“Number one is customer experience,” Penske Corporation president Bud Denker told RACER. “That is what we’ve been focusing on, both for IMS, and for the NTT IndyCar series. With the IndyCar series, we want to make it more inclusive. Why don’t we have public driver meetings at every single race track? Why aren’t the public invited to those kinds of things?
“You’re going to see, starting at St. Petersburg, that we’re going to have more public access, including fans being involved in the public driver meetings.”
Among his many duties as one of Roger Penske’s top lieutenants, Denker runs the Detroit Grand Prix and has overseen key improvements to the city-owned park where IndyCar, IMSA, Trans Am, and other series congregate each year following the Indy 500.
Having witnessed the field of 33 drivers assembled and presented to fans sitting across in the pit lane grandstands at the Speedway for many years, where race directors deliver their pre-race instructions, Denker can’t wait to see the ceremonial practice applied to the other 16 weekends on the schedule, including the Dual In Detroit event he leads.
“Imagine having a drivers’ meeting being around Belle Isle, at the Scott Fountain,” he said. “How cool would that be for the public to be invited? That is part of the customer experience. That has been our lead focus; that has been our North Star. Our North Star has been the fan experience, for both IMS and the NTT IndyCar Series.”