(via INDYCAR.com) – Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is known as a family-friendly experience on a race weekend. Verizon IndyCar Series drivers are known as among the most fan-friendly in any sport.
On Friday, the two successfully merged efforts to highlight the newest offering from INDYCAR Nation, the official fan community of INDYCAR. The Pit Crew, open to teen fans ages 13-17, launched recently and celebrated the occasion with a cornhole contest at Mid-Ohio featuring Pit Crew members and Verizon IndyCar Series drivers.
Conor Daly, James Hinchcliffe, Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud were each paired with a lucky young fan for the contest following the all-driver autograph session in the INDYCAR Fan Village. Drivers Alexander Rossi and Max Chilton served as officials.
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver Hinchcliffe and teammate Cole Anderson claimed victory in the four-team tournament that mixed friendly competition with loads of fun. Team Penske’s Pagenaud and teammate Caylie Obert were the runners-up.
“Cole was a stud, man,” Hinchcliffe said of the teen from Easton, Pennsylvania. “Clearly not his first time playing cornhole. He definitely carried the team, I’ve got to be honest. If it wasn’t for Cole, I don’t know if we would have come out on top.”
The Hinchcliffe/Anderson duo defeated Team Penske’s Newgarden and Hannah Obert (Caylie’s sister) in the first round before knocking out Pagenaud and Caylie in the final.
“We had a pretty close game with Josef in Round 1,” Hinchcliffe said, “but (Cole) came through in the clutch. He was great.”
The fan-focused event gave drivers a chance to interact with the next generation of INDYCAR fans in the popular tailgate game for a fun, lively late afternoon at the Midwestern track.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, for sure,” said Hannah Obert, Newgarden’s 14-year-old teammate from Medina, Ohio. “I just have no words, it was such an amazing thing.”
The drivers enjoyed the experience as much as their adoring fans/teammates.
“It’s so cool to get to do stuff like that,” Hinchcliffe admitted. “It’s a little more intimate, get some of the fans more involved. We got to all have younger teammates from the Pit Crew, which was kind of cool, and have a fun, casual game of cornhole against some of the other drivers.
“Obviously, the best team won, that goes without saying,” the Mayor of Hinchtown added, “but it’s always fun to get to interact, and that’s what makes INDYCAR racing INDYCAR racing.”
Caylie Obert, 16, from Medina, Ohio, helped Pagenaud give Hinchcliffe and Anderson a run for their money in the championship round. She loved the chance to get closer to her favorite drivers.
“It was a lot of fun,” she said. “You see their personalities on social media, and then seeing them up close and being personable with you, it was a just lot of fun.”
INDYCAR Nation provides membership opportunities for fans of all ages. For more information on membership levels and benefits, visit indycarnation.indycar.com.