If horse racing is the sport of kings, then car racing could conceivably be dubbed the sport of the average Joe.
Traditionally, events like the Indianapolis 500 are accustomed to selling more beer and hot dogs than Starbucks coffee and veggie burgers, but times are changing and so is the motor sporting crowd.
According to a research study conducted by Nielsen Media Research for the Indianapolis Racing League – the governing body of the open-wheel racing series that counts the Indy 500 as its centerpiece – the average racing fan is 39 years old, college-educated and has a median household income of ,000 or more. This indicates that the face of motor sports fans in general, and specifically the Indy Car series, may be changing.
To this end, the IRL is catering to its growing fan base by providing not only traditional fare, such as hamburgers and sodas, but also treating fans to a fine-dining experience by offering more upscale cuisine.
Through gourmet “kitchens on wheels,” or mobile restaurants as they are more commonly called, chefs prepare lavish meals for drivers, crew members, team guests, and of course fans, at select tracks across the U.S. The most recent racetrack to accommodate this change was the Miami-Dade Motor Speedway earlier this year.
Supporting this trend are companies like Viansa Winery and Marketplace. The winery, based in Sonoma, Calif., is attempting to appeal to motor sports’ wine fans with its sponsorship of the Vision Racing Team. Members of the Tuscan Club, Viansa’s wine and food club, have been invited to attend the racing events as guests of the company.
Vision Racing was formed early last year when IRL founder Tony George purchased the assets of Kelley Racing from Tom Kelley. Grey’s Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey is a co-owner of the team.