Today I’m checking out my very first IndyCar race: the Grand Prix of Portland! It’s not only my first IndyCar race, but it’s a family affair with my brother, my nephew and my dad all here for a weekend full of motorsports.
We wanted a wider range of experiences so we opted to add on a Paddock Pass to our 3-day General Admission tickets. A Pit Pass gets you closer to the pit lane, but those were sold out by the time we purchased our tickets. So, let’s go walk the paddock area.
The paddock is bustling not only with fans but with the mechanisms that make the race possible. The first trailer we happen upon is the Firestone Racing trailer, which is responsible for getting all the tires ready for the day’s competitors.
Do you get close to the cars in the paddock? That answer is YES! They’ll roll right by on their way to the starting grid.
The Paddock Pass lets you roam around the “garage” area, only there is no garage structure. In Portland, the paddocks are set up beside the team haulers with temporary canopies making up the “garage.” Other tracks, like the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, where I visited a motorcycle racing event and where IndyCar also stops, has a garage structure.
In the paddocks, views are unfettered as the crews work to get the cars race-ready. Just don’t get in the way or touch anything and you can hang out nearby while the teams do what they need to do for raceday.
You need a paddock pass if you’re hoping to rub shoulders with racing legends. We happened to see none other than Mr. Mario Andretti riding his pit bike to get from the paddock to the party tent. He was too fast for me to get a good photo. Typical.
All weekend long, Mario and everyone else zooms around on their pit bikes. As a motorcycle fan, I liked seeing the wide range of bikes in the various teams’ fleets. Obviously, the Honda Grom was a popular choice for the Honda teams.
The Paddock Pass gets you close to the drivers as they go about moving between the pits and the paddock. In addition to Mario, I got to see Marco Andretti, Scott Dixon, Felix Rosenqvist and Takuma Sato.
The Paddock Area is also where the winner’s circle is set up. The winning racers line up here for introductions and set up to the podium. Below, the day’s winners of the Mazda MX-5 cup collect their trophies.
As I mentioned, we’ve got a young one with us; my nephew. IndyCar has a special add-on for young fans that lets them line up at driver introductions and give the drivers a high-five as they are introduced.
The frustrating part of the Rookie Racers program is that communication from the organizers was abysmal. Few staff members at the track knew about Rookie Racers, and the ones who said they knew what it was told us the wrong time and the wrong place to meet. It left us scrambling to get my nephew to the right place. We made it, but it was unnecessarily nerve-wracking.
All things considered, it was only $25 and my nephew loved the special treatment and goodie bag.
My nephew was totally into the racing action. In fact, he became upset anytime he was away from the track! With his Felix Rosenqvist hot wheel and IndyCar foam finger, he stood up and cheered each time his blue #10 raced by.
As fun as the IndyCar race was, the surprise of the weekend was the Stadium Super Truck series.
If you’re a racing fan, especially an American, you may recognize the names Robby Gordon and Greg Biffle (pictured below). They are racing these days in the Stadium Super Truck series, which features Baja-style trucks ripping around the track and jumping off metal ramps – all during a race.
Watching a single truck launch off of one of the ramps is a thrill, but watching 10 trucks all bumper to bumper and jockeying for track position was a rush! If you make your way to a race weekend featuring this series – do not miss it.
The Stadium Super Trucks are parked on the grandstands/general admission side of the paddock, which means you don’t need a paddock pass to access them. Robby Gordon and Greg Biffle were hanging around the trucks, so if that’s your thing you’ll probably be able to snap a photo with them.
A three-day pass plus Paddock Acces cost us about $135 per ticket. You can make your race weekend less expensive by only going for a one-day paddock pass. Kids under 12 are free with a paying adult.
I found General Admission to be an excellent choice. You have three grandstands of seating to choose from. The first two are at the start of the front stretch. The other area is at the end of the backstretch. If I were to spring for better seats, it would be for the turn one chicane.
The Rookie Racer program will require an adult with a Paddock Pass. This is so you can access the area where driver introductions take place.
The Portland International Raceway is a great venue. The parking was easy with a quick shuttle moving lots of race fans with ease from the Portland Expo Center to the race. If you like racing and live nearby, it is a great excuse to enjoy Labor Day in the Pacific Northwest.
Great pictures! I enjoyed being there on race day with you, D.J. and Alder. I know it was a great thrill for Alder! Thanks for putting it all together, a memorable experience!