A fan’s guide to the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 festivities

NEWTON, Iowa - When the green flag flies to signal the start of the Bommarito Automotive Group 500, fans will already be having fun. The main event is really just the culmination of other events for fans to feast on.

It all starts Thursday, August 24 with the IndyCar Fan Fest at Ballpark Village, with the Coors Light Pole Night Showdown taking place at Gateway Motorsports Park the following the evening.

“You walk through the pits at an IndyCar race, you’re going to be able to interact with drivers,” said Gateway Motorsports Park owner Curtis Francois.

The track opens at 10 a.m. Saturday on race day.  You’ll need a special “paddock pass” for behind the scenes access as the teams prepare for the races.

​“They do whatever they can to make sure fan experience is A number 1. They know the fans are driving the future,” said Bommarito Automotive Group President John Bommarito.

Who better than racing legend Roger Penkse to inform fans on how to soak in the excitement?

“When you’re in the stick and ball sports you can’t get in the dugout or on the field," Penske said. "In auto racing, and certainly in IndyCar, bring the kids. Let them see what’s going on. You can get right into the center of the bill if you want. It looks terrific, especially for the first time."

For an inside look at what’s happening during the race, racing broadcaster Rob Howden suggests renting or buying one a headset at the track.

“That way you can listen to the radio communication between the team and the driver while they’re driving. Sometimes you’ll get a little off color words, but it’s a great way to get a deeper connection between what’s happening with the driver and engineers,” he said.

When it comes to watching the race, Howden gives this advice.

“Walk around the track. Don’t just watch from one place," her said. "Watch from different places so you can get a different vantage point.”

And whatever your vantage point may be, you’re in for a real treat from green flag to checkered flag.

“When you’ve been there and you see open wheel cars going around the track and 200, 220 miles per hour, three and four wide between two concrete walls, it’s exhilarating,” said Bommarito Automotive Group Vice President Chuck Wallis.