The Indy 500 is many different things to many different people, depending upon one’s perspective. When you consider the larger picture that encompasses the real-estate at the intersection of 16th street and Georgetown in Indianapolis, a better feel for the nuances of the place comes into focus. This goes beyond the scope of just the event, but more a matter of all of the functions and “background support” for what we know as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Imagine the complications when IMS went from a single event per year to today’s three events in a racing season. Now, imagine compacting three events into a single racing weekend……
From time to time, I like to focus on the BIGGER picture and dive into the roles of people that go into the supporting of the IMS event\IMS entity\IMS sphere. Please allow me to be clear, I embrace all forms of motorsport, but my heart lies in open wheel and the Indianapolis 500. It is only after looking at and thinking through the activity did I realize that it takes a boat load of people, passionate about racing, to make up the presentation of motorsport events at IMS.
I like dwell on the different roles that go into the production of the IMS brand. Specifically, I am very interested in what a digital producer does, how they come to the position and what they may be like outside of the grind called professional motor sport. What better way to do this than that to go ask the expert? No, I do not mean Curt Cavin of the Indianapolis Star; I refer to Mr. Brian Simpson of IMS. Get to know this gentleman better and become informed! I invite you to enjoy 10 questions with Brian Simpson, Digital Producer for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
1. How did you land your current gig at IMS?
It’s a long story that begins with working in a suite bartending and ending with the my current position. I knew long ago that motorsports was the industry I wanted to work in so I did everything I could to position my self close to the sport. I probably annoyed every team HR person to death with how many resumes I sent. Finally, in 2010, someone decided to give me a chance at IMS and the rest is history.
2. In our brief email conversations in the past, you mentioned that you had a desire to actually drive. What path were you following to become a shoe?
I would have loved to drive. My Father was a racer when I was young. We spent a lot of time at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on weekends and that’s where I really fell in love with motorsport. The atmosphere is awesome and when you’re an impressionable youngster it’s easy for the look and feel of motorsport to stick with you for life. I unfortunately never got the opportunity to get behind the wheel but I’ve still managed to make it into the motorsports industry… so I guess you “win some and lose some.”
3. On your Linked In page, you belong to several professional associations. Elaborate on one of them that I find fascinating; Advanced Zero Emission Electronic Vehicles.
I wish the explanation for this was more exciting than it is. My association with this group is based purely on research. At IMS during opening weekend part of our 2nd Annual Celebration of Automobiles is a feature on electric vehicles. In my quest to learn more about these vehicles I dove into a few groups on LinkedIN to try and educate myself.
4. Since Superbowl Madness is sweeping Indianapolis, describe your involvement in the SuperCar project, or at least elaborate on the project for my readers.
I haven’t had much involvement with the SuperCar project other than supporting it via our various Social Media avenues. It’s an incredibly cool project and I’ve been lucky enough to photograph several of the cars and we also had them all onsite here at IMS for the Media Party.
5. Share a little about the Indycar website blog roll. I see that you have a few posts and was wondering if blogging is a requirement of the group or if you just like to write in your spare time. The August 16th post from 2010 is all about iRacing the Milwaukee Mile. Do you iRace a lot?
Blogging is not a requirement but there are several people in the sport who I would love to force to write so the fans could get their perspective on INDYCAR racing. As I was starting out in college I thought I wanted to be a journalist. My Father is a radio host and most of my family is involved in the media in one way or another so it seemed natural. As time went on I seemed to get away from writing and it’s been great to get back into it since I’ve been here at IMS.
iRacing is in one word AWESOME. I was lucky enough to be involved in the early stages of the simulator and I’m pretty sure the INDYCAR league I ran was one of the first ever leagues on iRacing. It was a blast. Getting to race with pros like Justin Wilson, Tomas Scheckter and Will Power on a weekly basis was very cool. I haven’t raced much recently as my schedule has limited me but I’m looking forward to getting back into it soon.
6. What will your Brickyard Weekend look like now that there are 3 different shows scheduled for the “Hallowed Ground”?
A BLUR! It’s going to be really interesting and extremely fun to work that event. I’m a big Sports Car fan so it will be really fun to have those cars here at the facility. It’s also a nice treat to have Ferrari and Audi returning to the Speedway. Hopefully we can get some drivers to run both or maybe all three events.
7. Sprouts and smoothies or Scotch and cigars?
Scotch and cigars for sure. In fact, I had one of both last night at the IMS media party. I do fancy myself a beer drinker though.
8. Back to Linked In; describe the group “IndyCar”. Some nefarious members in that group from Arni Sribhen to Tony Johns; Do you interact with any of them from that group? It seems to be a Marketing driven group.
I do interact with a lot of them quite often. That group consists of people I’ve known since I was in high school to people I’ve met as recently as a month ago. Arni raced with us on iRacing quite often and obviously we worked together quite a bit this past season. I don’t “know” Tony other than his twitter account but we’ve had some interactions.
9. IMS and the Motor Speedway encompass several different properties i.e. the 500, Brickyard and Moto GP. Do you blend them all into the brand or do you differentiate each property? They certainly seem to have different demographics and target markets?
It’s a little bit of both I suppose. You are correct that all of these events are a part of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway brand and you’re also correct in saying that they have their own demographics and target markets. The challenge for us as a facility is showcasing these events to all of the groups we reach.
We want ALL race fans to love ALL of our events not just Indy or Brickyard or MotoGP. They’re all very unique and until you’ve attended all of them you really can’t get a feel for that. The Indy 500 is obviously the mecca, it’s why we have an IMS and it’s the single greatest sporting event in the world (in my opinion). However, MotoGP holds a special place in my heart. It’s an entirely different vibe from Indy and it’s very exciting. The riders are extremely friendly and approachable, much more than the F1 drivers were, and that provides a very unique and incredible experience for the fan.
I was here for the first Brickyard 400 and I’ve been to almost every one since. While, I don’t consider myself a NASCAR expert, I truly love that event. The fans really get behind it and that makes it really enjoyable for those of us working the event.
10. What constitutes a “good day” at the office for Brian Simpson?
My best days are always event days. There’s nothing in this world like driving into IMS at 4AM when it’s still dark out. The pagoda is all lit up, the race day date is shining brightly at the top and you know it’s go time. The day goes by so quick but at the end you look back and kind of realize that you were a part of the history of IMS. It’s a very proud feeling.
It is really kind of these behind the scenes Tweeps to give of their valuable time, just for a lowly small fry blogger. Remember, if someone does something for you that takes away from their very limited time during the course of their very busy day; they must be speaking from within a framework of passion. I enjoy listening to and conferring with those that are passionate. It makes for a fuller life!
Talk to you next time and of course, my sincere thanks to Brian Simpson . This gentleman exudes passion for motor sport and is one of the truly good guys that toil behind the scenes at IMS to bring you fabulous digital content!