There’s Nothing “Small” About Fan Engagement at Petit Le Mans
If you want to get a taste of consumer passion and see real-time fan engagement, go to a motorsports event.
To auto buffs like me, race car drivers have the most enviable jobs in the world. Much like other pro sports fans, we hold drivers on high pedestals and perceive what they do as something almost otherworldly. As an Indianapolis native who grew up near the Speedway, my childhood idols included famous drivers from the early ’90s like Emerson Fittipaldi and Arie Luyendyk. As an adult, I lament at not having the opportunity to see Ayrton Senna work his magic and mourned the loss of Dan Wheldon. Racing is a real passion of mine, even if I don’t always have the time to keep up with it.
Fortunately, I had the opportunity to attend the ALMS Petit LeMans at Road Atlanta in October. This was my first ALMS event, and what I found was a surprising departure from typical racing series culture found around the tracks at Indy Car or NASCAR events. The pomp and circumstance of the Indy 500 was replaced by something more akin to a grassroots movement with an unrivaled authenticity. The ALMS wasn’t trying to oversell its product with gimmicky sideshows. They let the race, the teams, the drivers and the environment speak for themselves.
The ALMS is lucky to have participants that are the walking embodiment of consumer engagement. Fans were able to interact with the crews before the race out on the starting grid. Drivers donning half-zipped fire suits casually moved between the pits and garages, stopping to take pictures and sign autographs along the way – acts of literal public relations. It was a memorable sight to see.
For racing fans like me, it was exactly what the race day environment should be: authentic, intimate and accessible. As someone in PR, it’s the kind of atmosphere that makes my job easier. As a paying customer, it’s worth every penny they’re charging.