How many American race car drivers are buddies with the likes of Deadmau5, Marshmello and Zedd?
The answer is: One.
That driver is IndyCar’s Conor Daly, a friend to many DJs in the electronic dance music community. That’s pretty badass if you think about it, since racing and EDM have dramatically different audiences for the most part.
But Daly can go between both worlds with ease, and has been doing so since he struck up a friendship with Deadmau5 in 2013.
Deadmau5 had followed Daly on Twitter and they started messaging back and forth. When Daly had an open weekend in 2014, he went to Vegas and met up with Deadmau5 — which led to connecting with other DJs and their friends. (Deadmau5 has since been to several IndyCar events and even taken a ride with James Hinchcliffe at Indianapolis.)
“I’m like a really business-to-business relationship type of person, so I connect with people through other people and we become friends,” Daly told me Thursday. “And suddenly you’re in different groups of people.
“It’s a small world in there (in the EDM community) just like it’s a small world here. If you know someone in the racing community, they probably know 30 other people that you know. So it’s the same thing, just a different environment.”
Daly said there are many people in dance music who “appreciate cars and racing,” but just don’t know much about it. So they’re curious and end up asking questions — just as Daly asks questions about music.
Marshmello, who Daly met last year, is playing at the Indy 500 Snake Pit on Sunday (along with Zedd and several others) — and expressed his enthusiasm for learning more about racing.
“Marshmello texted me at the end of last year after I met him and he was like, ‘Hey, my dad just saw some of your crashes on YouTube. That’s crazy! You guys are nuts,'” Daly said. “So apparently they were talking about that. He’s excited about it for sure. Apparently one of his video guys went to (Indiana) as well, so they’ve been hyping up the Indy 500.”
Daly said he’s been trying to get Zedd up to speed on Indy ahead of his Sunday appearance, but Zedd isn’t super into racing yet.
“I’ve been trying to tell him as much as I can, but until you see it here in real life, you don’t really know,” Daly said. “So we’ll see what he thinks.”
Last year, Skrillex and Martin Garrix — who is friends with Formula One driver Max Verstappen — were the headliners at the Snake Pit (an EDM concert in Turn 3 that takes place before and during the Indy 500 itself).
Daly obviously can’t attend the concert while the race is going on, but went to Electric Daisy Carnival at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to see friend MAKJ perform last year and saw Deadmau5 in Chicago earlier this month. Daly plans to attend EDC again in Las Vegas next month.
Knowing the two groups of fans as well as he does, Daly said the Snake Pit represents an important part of building the Indy 500 tradition.
“It’s a huge group of people who would never entertain the idea of a race unless it was involved with this type of concert,” he said. “Even if it’s 10 or 15 people, if we can turn their heads and say, ‘Whoa, this race is actually really entertaining, too,’ then who knows?
“It gets people to the venue, gets people here and gets people talking about the Indy 500. (The 500 experience) is the race, it’s the Snake Pit, it’s everything.”