If you follow me on Twitter at all you have probably seen the hashtags #IndyFest or #26ers popping up a lot over the last three weeks. I was lucky enough to be named one of the “Social 26, or #26ers for this year’s running of Milwaukee IndyFest at the Milwaukee Mile.
And it all started with a Tweet. Having “met” Kyle Lacy through a Twitter list for a conference we got to talking and he asked if I wanted to be a part of something his company (Exact Target) and Andretti Sports Marketing were doing in Milwaukee. They wanted to make this year’s Indy Fest a fully social experience . We would not only be spreading the word before race weekend, we would be “Live Tweeting” the event itself.
Of course, I immediately said “yes!”. This is the kind of thing I love to be a part of, using social media to promote an event. With it being in Milwaukee, I knew that a lot of the people involved would be people I know and how can you pass that up? The next thing I did was hit “The Google” to learn about Indy Car. I freely admit that I don’t know a lot about the sport. I had been to the Milwaukee Mile before but that was just going for walks, so this was going to be all new to me. I had been to a NASCAR event (Daytona 400 ) when I worked for Pierce Mfg , but I knew this was an entirely different ball game.
Leading up to the event I learned more and more about the sport and about the track itself. The folks at Andretti were awesome in giving us facts and history lessons to share. They also hosted events leading to race weekend. There was a block party, a meeting with the Social Media Club of Milwaukee and more. Unfortunately, being in Appleton, I missed the lead in events but still was able to participate in spirit over Twitter. I also created a public playlist on Spotify where I crowdsourced song requests to get people in the mood.
On Friday of race weekend I headed south to join in the fun! I lucked out that I have very good friends who live a 5 minute walk from the Milwaukee Mile who let me stay with them for the weekend. There is nothing better to pump a girl up for Indy Fest than hearing the “vroom” of the cars while getting ready to leave for the event!
Friday night, I met up with some of the other 26ers who I have known for a while now and met a few new awesome folks that night as well. We enjoyed a battle of the bands show as well as some fairway games. (Random fact – that night was my first ever ride on a ferris wheel) I was also able to “meet” my driver Will Power. Or at least… a reasonable cardboard substitute.
Saturday was race day! We got to the grounds a little late and missed the Tweet up but were able to meet up with the 26ers in attendance. Unfortunately, not all 26 of us made it to the track on Saturday – but the ones that did had a blast! The morning was hot and sunny, until the sky opened up and the rain came pouring down. Thankfully for us, the folks at Marcus Hotels let us take shelter in the hospitality tent.
After the hour or so rain delay, the race was on! It was fast and it was furious. After the race, there was a SmashMouth concert for us to enjoy. While my driver didn’t win , it was still an awesome event to be a part of. I look forward to doing it again when Indy Fest comes back in 2013!