The Indy 500 Experience: 325,000 Fans, Incredibly Fast Cars, and Working Side-by-Side with Andretti Autosport

The Indy 500 Experience: 325,000 Fans, Incredibly Fast Cars, and Working Side-by-Side with Andretti Autosport

This past weekend’s Indy 500 was the world’s largest sporting event since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 325,000 fans filled the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on race day to watch the 106th running of this legendary event. Even better – I was there with a crew of colleagues and our customer!  

They don’t call this race “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” for nothing. Trying to comprehend what 325,000 people in one place, on one day for one event is like…it is as incredible as you might think.  

It all starts with our partner Andretti Autosport 

Attending the Indy 500 was on my bucket list, and I’m not sure it would have happened without Zapata’s partner, the world-class racing team at Andretti Autosport. Zapata and Andretti begsn our collaboration earlier this year with the goal of doing cutting-edge R&D to deploy quantum-ready advanced analytics systems and tools. The hard work of accomplishing our goals has begun in earnest, with a lot happening on race days in the mobile Race Analytics Command Center (R.A.C.C.) where Zapata and Andretti engineers work closely with the drivers, strategists and other team members using Zapata’s Orquestra® platform for building and deploying quantum-ready applications®. 

As we recently detailed in a joint announcement just before the Indy 500, we’re focused on building Andretti’s race-time analytics infrastructure.  

Since the start of the 2022 season, we’ve collectively zeroed in on new approaches that can help generate predictive insights, measure and optimize performance, and present race strategy. For example, we’re building advanced machine learning models to better understand important use cases such as tire degradation analysis, identifying fuel savings opportunities and improving yellow flag predictive modeling.   

It wasn’t all about the track 

There was no disagreement from the Zapata team when it came to Andretti’s hospitality: they know how to throw a party! One thing we’ve experienced interacting throughout the Andretti organization and going to the races is this is an amazing team of professionals. Everyone makes you feel welcome, and everyone is there to help ensure you enjoy the experience.  

Here is what one of the Andretti team members had to say on this topic: 

“When we welcome a partner into the team, they truly become a part of the family that is Andretti Autosport. With this comes experiences that integrate partners every step of the way. From dinners with team members and drivers, to extraordinary parties the night before the race, to standing on the pre-race grid for the biggest race in the world; partners experience this right alongside us. My colleagues and I make it our goal that every single guest leaves the race weekend with experiences and stories to tell for the rest of their lives.” 

— Matt Kennedy, Manager, Partnerships 

No podium this time, but progress continues 

The entire weekend was a whirlwind of activity. On 500 race day, we didn’t see any of the Andretti team’s racers make the podium (just two weeks after Colton Herta came in first at the Indy Road course!). They fought hard, but the results did not match the effort. While a bit disappointed, we learned more about how to improve upon our analytics work and what steps to take at the next race in Detroit – coming up this weekend. 

With the great group of people that make up our collective teams, partners, and customers, it’s hard to NOT have a great time at a race. It is the ultimate gearhead, business, and bonding experience, as I can attest when our bus ride back from the race took three hours to get to the hotel – (getting into the event was easy!) 

It’s hard to put an experience like the Indy 500 into words. I’ve tried here with the help of some photos. Hope to see you at the 107th running of this true spectacle!  

[For more information about the work we’re doing with Andretti Autosport or to take a test drive of Orquestra, contact us!] 

Author
Steven N. Stern
Zapata Author

Steven N. Stern

Vice President, Customer Solutions