The NTT IndyCar Series’ return to Texas Motor Speedway next week is loaded with anticipation by both parties as their efforts to increase attendance will take center stage.

Facing a steadily declining audience in recent years, the 2022 IndyCar event at TMS was witnessed by a noticeably sparse crowd as Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden won the race in what was the final year of the sanctioning agreement between IndyCar and TMS.

Having executed a new contract for IndyCar to continue racing on the 1.5-mile oval where the former Indy Racing League made its first appearance in 1997, renewed efforts to improve tickets sales have been in the works, and accord ing to the track, an increase in advance ticket purchases has taken place.

Although it’s unclear whether the boost to ticket sales is modest or significant, one track official characterized the positive growth as a “good step in the right direction.”

Adding to the sales figures, Arrow McLaren star and 2021 TMS race winner Pato O’Ward has taken a unique approach to bolstering the crowd at the Dallas Forth-Worth venue which serves as the Mexican’s defacto home race.

Having spent a significant portion of his youth in San Antonio, O’Ward regards Texas as a second home, and with many of his fans found both in state and in his native land, the 23-year-old from Monterrey has partnered with TMS to produce a special ticket package for the April 1-2 PPG 375 event.

“I’ve got over 150 people coming to my suite that are confirmed, and there’s still spaces available,” O’Ward told RACER. “We have space for 30 or 40 more and it’s a mix of Americans and Mexicans. Some are flying in from Mexico just to be part of it.”

Offered directly through his website, O’Ward and TMS created a $399 offer that includes a hat, jersey, garage access, and viewing from a catered suite.

“I wanted to create something that was a great experience for people where they all say, ‘This is a mega deal,’” O’Ward said. “I worked really hard with TMS to be able to do that, and they’ve been really great in making it happen.”

O’Ward and the track also partnered on another ticket offer which has been well-received by the driver’s fans. With the direct efforts of the 2018 Indy Lights champion and the track in mind, it’s easy to envision more IndyCar drivers making connections with their home tracks to create similar ticket packages that cater to the series’ most engaged fans.

“We also did a giveaway, a huge grandstand ticket giveaway, with any article that people bought from my site,” O’Ward said. “It could be a sticker, it could be a hat, it could be a diecast, a mini helmet. Doesn’t matter what you buy on my store: One article equals one grandstand ticket. And I’ve given away over 500 or 600 tickets for the grandstands at Texas and all these people have been telling me it’s amazing, so I’m glad it’s been well-received.

“I’m just I’m doing it because I want to see people there. I want people to go and have a good reason to go because it’s such a great race IndyCar puts on there and I want to help it grow.”