In the lead-up to this weekend’s PPG 375, Pato O’Ward ran a promotion on his own website to help get fans into the stands for the first IndyCar oval race of the season.
The popular Mexican driver came up with the idea to gift one grandstand ticket to the race at Texas Motor Speedway to every person who purchased a merchandise item from his website.
The promotion was an unabashed success, and many more people took up his offer than he imagined. The result could very well be his own fan section high above the exit to turn 4.
Speaking to Motorsportweek.com, O’Ward talked about how much the promotion means to him and how he hopes he has given people a chance to see a race in person that might not have come out otherwise.
“It’s awesome,” said O’Ward about the positive response. “I don’t have a home race. For me, being able to give the opportunity for my fellow Mexicans to come out and support me is a no-brainer for me.
“I have to say, it’s gonna be a lot bigger than what I thought I could have pulled. We’re packing up three suites, which is 64 people per, so that’s 192 people. And I’ve given away over 600 grandstand tickets. I don’t know if all 600 are coming, but if a good 50 or 70 per cent of that comes, I think we’ll see a lot of black and orange out there. Which is going to be awesome to see.
“I see every single order that comes in. It’s a good mix [of locations], a really good mix. A lot of people from local here in Texas: San Antonio, Austin, Dallas. A lot of people from all over Mexico: Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterey. It’s a really good mix.
“The angle I’m coming from is that I understand it’s an effort for people to come and support. I know for me, the life that I carry on, travel is just travel. But I understand that it’s more than just getting a ticket. It’s the food, the hotels, the flights, the car ride. It’s not just coming to the race.
“I wanted to give everybody a chance, or at least give them a reason to second think it and be like ‘This deal is just too good to pass on.’
“I’m not going to make any money out of this, but I’m also very glad I’m not going to lose a lot of money out of this. We’re going to have a lot of people here, I’m going to have a lot of guests. To me, that has a lot of value.”
The annual IndyCar race at Texas has been plagued with low attendance figures in recent years, and promotions such as this will certainly help to fill some seats that might have otherwise gone empty.
And if those additional fans happen to be cheering on every move that O’Ward makes on track, then that’s just an added bonus for the 23-year-old that seems to relish the spotlight.
When asked if the best show he could give his cheering fans would be some celebratory donuts after he wins the race, O’Ward lit up at the thought.
“Oh yeah! This time I’ll try to keep it out of the grass.”
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