What’s it like to attend IndyCar vs F1 Races in North America?

Both Formula 1 and IndyCar have risen in popularity in the United States in recent years. With a fresh crop of fans (myself included), attending races is at the top of a motorsport fan’s bucket list.

Our guest author for this piece is Kaitlin Tucci, Head of Marketing and Community Engagment at FanAmp. Podium Life and FanAmp have been partners since last year.

Kaitlin in pit lane at the Long Beach Grand Prix

For the past few years, I have defined myself as solely a Formula 1 fan, but before the 2024 season, I dove into the world that has given us a high-action American racing series including the Indy 500: IndyCar.

In 2023, I attended my first Formula 1 Race (the Canadian Grand Prix), and then attended the US Grand Prix at COTA and the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix. With my new interest in IndyCar this year, my team at FanAmp made the decision to attend the 2024 Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach. We had one goal in mind: Show Formula 1 fans the experience of an IndyCar race – showcasing the accessibility, affordability, and the faces that make the series so special.

So… let’s compare the two experiences!

How much will attending a race cost me?

The first thought that most motorsports fans have when thinking about attending a Grand Prix – of any series – is the cost of attending.

Spoiler alert: IndyCar races are MUCH more affordable than Formula 1 races. 

Let’s do a quick breakdown of 3-day race tickets:

Races in North AmericaGeneral Admission average costGrandstand seat average costHospitality average cost
Formula 15$387$1,086$8,550*
*There is an extremely wide range of options, so these figures may be slightly skewed

Not only can motorsports fans in the US attend more IndyCar races in a season due to price, there are over 3 times the number of events! 

IndyCar even offers VERY exciting upgrade options that F1 does not offer (unless paying for hospitality). One of the largest ‘perks’ of tickets to IndyCar races – the ability to buy Pit, Paddock, and Garage access… for as low as $30 a day. While at Long Beach, the FanAmp team took advantage of these low upgrade prices to award some lucky fans with Pit Passes!

What does this mean? It means that any fan (with a valid ticket) can purchase an upgrade to walk around the paddock during the race day.

What does my ticket get me?

Access to full circuit groundsTVs/ AudioProximityConcessionsMerch/ Fan Zones
IndyCar (Long Beach)YesSometimes3-5 feet from the trackPaidYes
F1VariesSometimesSeveral yards from the trackPaid (except Las Vegas)Yes
To reiterate, one of the best parts of IndyCar is access, compared to F1.

At the F1 races in Canada and Las Vegas, specifically, the security was very strict. In my experience, fans could not stand close to the gates or catch fencing, you could not sit or stand in front of grandstands with general admission, and general admission requires fans who actually want to have a view of the circuit to arrive hours before the gates even open. Additionally, many circuits limit general admission and grandstand ticket-holders to zones – meaning you are limited to one section of the track.

Conversely, although I did have a media pass at the Long Beach IndyCar race, fans were allowed nearly everywhere on the track (except the pits, paddock, and media center without proper pass upgrades). You could choose multiple vantage points across the 3 days of racing, even within one session, and the crowds were evenly distributed so that everyone had a view of the track. The one point of comparison that remains the same, though, is you have to be lucky to find a screen and speaker around the track in order to follow the race.

Can I meet my favorite drivers?

Short answer: In Formula 1 it’s next to impossible unless you are camped alongside thousands of fans at a track entrance/exit, win a competition, pay thousands of dollars for premium hospitality, or wait in their hotel lobby. BUT in IndyCar… not only can you meet the drivers easily on track… it’s the norm!

As I mentioned, paddock upgrades cost between $30 – $200, which means you are allowed to walk around the paddock before, during and after sessions. At Long Beach, you were able to watch teams work (yes, exposed insides of IndyCars!), meet team members, interact with the drivers (as long as they weren’t busy), and watch the cars get wheeled in and out of the paddock to the pits during the session.

Additionally, at the Long Beach Grand Prix – after Free Practice 1 on Friday the track opened access to the paddock for a free meet and greet with every driver. Yes, you heard that correctly, free meet and greet with every driver.

Additionally, as opposed to Formula 1, the IndyCar pit lane allows fans to get much closer to the action. If you have access to watch sessions in the pit lane, you can stand directly next to their pit boxes and watch teams manage the race and even execute pit stops. In my experience, I was next to the McLaren Pit box of Theo Pourchaire and was able to watch sessions with David Malukas, Zak Brown, and Tony Kanaan.

Are there Fan Zones and Fan Activities?


This is one point of comparison that Formula 1 Races and IndyCar Races have in common – and that Formula 1 may have a ‘leg up’ on.

At most US Formula 1 races, the fan activities are not sequestered to the track. There are often team activations across the city, entire fan zones off the track (Canada is famous for their fan zones in downtown Montreal), special appearances from drivers, and most of the city transforms into an F1 ‘paradise’. This was absolutely my experience in Montreal during my first Grand Prix last year. The entire city of Montreal felt like it was taken over by F1 fans and the Formula 1 spirit. There was never a shortage of activities to partake in even well before the race weekend began. Not to mention, at the track there are numerous fan zones and activations with the drivers between sessions. Most US races now have concerts after each of the days of the race weekend, now with artists such as Pitbull, Queen, The Chainsmokers, and Ed Sheeran.

Alternatively, my Long Beach IndyCar fan zone experience was limited to the track. While the city of Long Beach isn’t very large, the festivities were sequestered to the track and convention center area. There were many activities for fans to participate in including racing simulators, car presentations, and bounce houses, BUT nothing on the scale that compares to Formula 1. Again, similarly to Formula 1, there were concerts after each of the days (but with less popular artists). 

The ONE aspect of ‘fan activities’ that IndyCar takes the cake for is, of course, the ability to freely meet drivers after the Friday sessions at Long Beach.

Can I buy team Merchandise?

Yes! At both Formula 1 Races and IndyCar races there are various team, track and memorabilia tents along the circuit.

One hilarious tidbit from Long Beach IndyCar: some vendors sell Formula 1 merchandise!


If I can impart one piece of information on any motorsports fan who reads this article it would be: attend an IndyCar race this year. If you live in North America… it’s a no-brainer. If you live internationally and are willing to travel – it’s absolutely worth it (we met some amazing Dutch fans!).  

If this article has not convinced you yet or you just want to hear more from my time at the track, then read my full experience at the Long Beach IndyCar Grand Prix.

And make sure to download FanAmp: the global hub for F1 and IndyCar fans to connect, chat, follow news, and more. Join our app to chat with F1 Race-goers OR connect with other IndyCar fans, along with many other communities.

Want to learn more about the IndyCar Grid or dive deeper into race tickets? Check out FanAmp’s IndyCar Grid Guide and Fan Guide: IndyCar Tickets.