I wanted to take a moment today to highlight one of the best experiences our family has ever had at IMS. Yesterday, my wife and I took two of our kids out to the Indy Motor Speedway's Community Day. The Speedway and the IZOD IndyCar Series had really encouraged a lot of booths and displays this year, from bounce castles to fire departments to the usual displays of the military branches. There were plenty of freebies, plenty of events, and the kids had a blast. I love the fact the kids can check out the garages--something normally off limits to at least the younger ones. For a day, IMS is all-access for everyone.
What really made yesterday extremely special, however, was the event held for IMS Kids Club members. Honestly, I expected a short meet n' greet, maybe a little something for the kids. What we saw instead blew us away:
-Not only was the area the event was being held in impressively decorated, each table had balloons, bracelets, and pins for the kids to take.
-The vent was catered by Kroger, who not only had sandwiches, veggie trays, and drinks, but also an ice cream station and cookie decoration station. Just Pop In also had some of their popcorn available.
-Two bounce castles kept the kids exceedingly busy! There were also foam building blocks, hula hoops, and a big coloring table for the children.
-The 500 Festival Princesses and Queen were also around, and were absolutely wonderful about playing with the children. The children seemed to instantly bond with them all.
-There were folks on-hand making balloon shapes for the kids and also doing face painting for those that so wished.
-My daughter got to meet (and receive autographs from) Alex Tagliani, Townsend Bell, and Alex Lloyd. Props to all 3 drivers for being approachable and genuinely nice with the kids.
-The Soy-Yer Dough people were on hand, with a play area and giving away some of their product. This stuff seems like a great alternative to Play-Doh: not greasy, dissolves in water, and doesn't seem to stick to the table, either.
-A raffle was held, wherein plenty of kids won prizes from grab bags full of Indy and racing-related toys to big foam toy seats and more!
-Did I mention the glorious, glorious air conditioning?
I paid $25 for my daughter to join the IMS Kids Club. It's one of the best bargains for the price I can remember. Not only did she get to be part of all I described above, but the welcome package she had received weeks early had a t-shirt, lunch box, stickers, Kid's Club "kid-ential", coupons, a Hot Wheels car, and much more besides.
On a closing note, my daughter was able to give the card she made to Pippa Mann during the last autograph session of the day. It was a great end to a great day.
We discuss a lot about building a younger fan base for IndyCar, but activities such as the IMS Kids Club and Community Day overall are already awesome programs for the whole family. Kudos to the event staff for making it one of the most fun and enjoyable days my kids have had in some time!