IndyCar TweetUp Fans, I will start this post by saying this: I have terrible anxiety. That anxiety grows when social events are involved, especially if I am out of my comfort zone. We lovingly refer to my anxiety as “Lillianing” at home, named for my Grandmother from whom I inherited my superpowers: The ability to jump to the worst possible conclusion in a single bound over the uncontrollable “What Ifs” in life. Now you can understand why I may seem a bit socially awkward, dorky, loud, uncomfortable etc. When I am in new social situations. Funny that Social Media is what I love, isn’t it?
With that being said, as soon as I said “Yes” to planning the first #IndyFansTweetUp with Pippa, I immediately started questioning my abilities and Social Media readiness. Sure, I have met many of you before, done smaller scale TweetUps at various IndyCar tracks, and was even fortunate enough to have been a Social Media VIP at the Indy500 last year, but THIS was big. I swallowed my fears, and just told myself that I could do it, and that it would be AWESOME. Having a social media Queen like Pippa as my partner in crime definitely alleviated SOME of my irrational anxieties.
5 weeks may sound like a long time, but when you are organizing an event like this, time flies by at an incredibly fast clip. Pippa was on it from the get-go, securing our location; Fastimes Indoor Karting, as well as locking in some special guests, and she did the bulk of the treasure hunting for IndyCar related prizes. In addition she set up three social media accounts for us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram so that we could start populating content and getting the word out that this was happening. The TweetVite she created was fantastic, and an easy way for us both to keep a running head count of RSVP’d attendees.
I started focusing on the adult activities as well as on the kids and families that would be in attendance. I knew that not every attendee would be out on the track racing, so I wanted to make sure there was fun for everyone. I purchased some little racing related party favors and assembled goody bags for the children that would be all be the same. This way, every child got to take home a “prize” even if it wasn’t one from the prize table. I also created some coloring sheets, so the kids could color their own IndyCars and Helmets. For the adults, I had a good friend on Twitter “DZ” create an unbelievably difficult IndyCar Trivia game. I made a much simpler trivia sheet for the older kids in attendance.
We went about the planning, all the while watching the RSVP count click upwards, until 2 weeks before the event, we were completely full! Fastimes saw this too, and were gracious enough to open their entire facility to our event, with the hopes that folks would get out on the track to race!
After much planning, text messages and emails, giggles and frustrations, March 16th had finally arrived. And my anxiety did not disappoint. From the time I woke up, my stomach was in knots, and the fear that no one was going to show up had settled in. I am fairly certain that Chris, Renee and Gage would have enjoyed gagging me and stuffing me in the trunk on the drive up. I was chatting at a mile a minute, all nervous energy. Luckily Gage requested “Bohemian Rhapsody” so we all sang at the top of our lungs, and banged our heads a la Wayne and Garth style, and that helped me to relax.
We arrived at Fastimes at the same time as Pippa, and we all made short work of getting things set up..the big prize table, and the kids activity table. We finished just a tad after 12;30, and so all we had to do at that point was wait, and hope people showed up. Gage and Chris started playing with a beachball I had brought for some kids games, and unfortunately, Pippa’s head was a magnet. Trust me I gave the boys a VERY serious disapproving Mom look.
Slowly, ever so slowly, our first IndyCar fans began to file in. Before we knew it, the confrence room at Fastimes was full, and we were ready to kick off the fun! Pippa welcomed and thanked everyone for attending, and the First official #IndyFansTweetUp was underway. I was having a blast, and you’d think that at that point, my Lillianing powers would have silenced, but they were still there, filling my head with doubts..”Would everyone have fun?” “Would the kids have fun coloring and would they talk to each other and make friends?” Etc etc.
I looked around…the track was full, everyone was smiling, laughing and talking. Kids were smiling as they colored and talked to one another. I took a deep breath and realized we had done it! We had a successful event going on. I really relaxed at that point, and although stayed busy tweeting and posting pics to our instagram, I was having a great time, talking to my old friends, meeting new ones. All until I heard Gage’s name over the intercom for the next heat. Uh-Oh…LILLIANING!! Would he be ok? Could he even handle a real go-kart? What if he wrecked and got hurt? What if he wrecked into someone else and they sued me? You know, all the worst possible scenarios. Pippa was going on track with Gage, and several other kids, and I could breathe. I knew I could trust Pippa to keep everyone safe! Gage did well, considering it was his very first time in a go-kart and he just barely met the 53 inch minimum! He was the smallest racer of the day. And while he didn’t put up the fastest time, he DID IT. And I could not have been any prouder of him.
Pippa jumped on stage and did some awesome Q&A’s with Kyle O’ Gara, Fan Force United, as well as with Kevin Lee from Trackside and Nick Yeoman from IndyCar Radio. Lots of great information and thoughts about the upcoming season!
Time was flying at this point, I raced back into the conference room to hit the IndyCar trivia, and prepare for the end of the TweetUp. OOOPS it was already 3;30! Our event was only supposed to go to 3pm! Pippa got on the mic and called the Fastest Time. The winner was Mathew, better known on Twitter as @IndyCarStig. The winner of the nearly impossible IndyCar trivia was Brody Banta. Both nabbed some pretty awesome prizes, an Ed Carpenter Wheel Pod for Mathew, and an autographed visor from James Hinchcliffe for Brody. We then allowed all the kids that had raced on track to come select a prize. One lucky boy nabbed a pair of autographed Simon Pagenaud racing boots that Gage had absolutely set his heart on. He had a bit of a mini-meltdown before realizing he could grab a Pippa crew shirt, and that made it all better. We then raffled off the remaining prizes, and our event drew to a close almost an hour and a half after it was supposed to have ended. I think that is proof right there that everyone had a good time; no one was chomping at the bit to ditch and dash.
All in all it was a wondeful day in my opinion. The feedback we have recieved has been nothing but positive. Everyone says they had a great time, children included. I am so thankful to each and every one of you that came out, that brought your kids, and that shared the fun with us.
I’d also like to say thanks to Kyle O’Gara, Fan Force United, Be Miles Ahead, Stephan Gregoire, Glass Hammer Racing, Simon Pagenaud, James Hinchcliffe, Charlie Kimball, Scott Dixon, Walker Racing, Falken Racing, Jan Heylan, Kevin Lee, Nick Yeoman and last but certainly not least Fastimes for opening your awesome facility to us and our guests.
Pippa, a simple thank you just isn’t adequate to show my appreciation for all that you did. You are amazing! I am glad to have such an awesome partner in crime for the #IndyFansTweetUps to come.
Speaking of that…..we’ll see you all in St Petersburg next weekend!