"This is a racing festival, and not just a race," said Kristen Engeron, president of NOLA Motorsports Park (11075 Nicolle Blvd., Avondale, 504-302-4875; www.nolamotor.com).
In addition to the main 200-mile, 75-lap IndyCar race, the three-day festival features five other racing series, live music from local bands, a family fun zone with rides and entertainment, go-karting, regional cuisine and an 80-foot-tall Ferris wheel.
Located 20 minutes from New Orleans, NOLA Motorsports Park opened in 2012, offering year-round automobile and motorcycle racing, go-karting, ride-alongs with professional drivers, a high-performance driving school and full-service corporate and special event space rental.
"We have something for everybody," Engeron says. "Our karting facility is open seven days a week to the public to rent our go-karts. We also have events such as Track Day Light, where anyone can bring their everyday car on track and learn how to drive it. We have experiences such as our Mustang Experience, where you learn to drive a Mustang FR550S. You can .. choose from several exotic cars to drive on track, such as Ferraris or Lamborghinis." The 750-acre park also offers motorcycle racing, corporate team-building events and bachelor and bachelorette karting parties.
The park is owned by Laney Chouest, who turned his dream of building a safe place to drive fast into a world-class racing and event facility. Chouest hired Alan Wilson, one of the country's preeminent racetrack designers, to create the 2.74-mile track with 13 turns and a 5,200-foot straightaway.
IndyCar is professional American open-wheel automobile racing — and this track was made for professional racing.
"All of the cars and stars that will compete in the Indy 500 will be here for our race as well," Engeron says. "It is names like Helio Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Graham Rahal and Marco Andretti that represent the best in this sport. The drivers come from all over the world; some are just starting and others are very experienced."
The IndyCar Fan Village will host driver autograph sessions, and visitors can purchase Paddock Passes, which allow access to the IndyCar Paddock where all the drivers, teams and their cars are. "You can walk up and see the cars and drivers firsthand," Engeron says.
In addition to the main Indy event, there will be five other racing series from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on all three days, including Pro Mazda, USF2000, Porsche GT3, Prototype Lites and Mazda MX-5. For details, visit www.gpofnola.com.
The Indy Grand Prix will air internationally on NBC Sports Sunday, April 12. General admission tickets start at $15.
"We will have this race for three years and possibly longer," Engeron says. "This event has the possibility to become a staple of festivals for south Louisiana, like Jazz Fest."
Promo: 2015 Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana Event Guide