Exclusive: Next Year's Rev Host Is …

Hint: He’s French, and he knows his wine.

IndyCar star Simon Pagenaud will return to Indy in May as the defending champ of the Grand Prix of Indianapolis—and the honorary chairman of Rev, the glitzy, racing-celeb-heavy party that debuted at the track in 2014. The newest member of Team Penske might bring his wine expertise to the affair with some special recommendations, honed in August when IndyCar hit Sonoma Raceway and Pagenaud took the opportunity to visit David Arthur Vineyards. See the video of his tour below, following our conversation with the 30-year-old about his plans for Rev, the wine he’s loving right now, and what he hopes never changes about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
So you’re in France right now. What have you done in your offseason?
It’s always quite busy when I go back to France. I haven’t been back since Christmas, so I visited my sister in the south of France, in Bandol; my mom in Paris; and dad in my hometown, Montmorency. Then my mom and [my girlfriend] Hailey organized a special day with my friends in Bordeaux to celebrate my 30th birthday. Good time! We visited one of the most famous wineries in Bordeaux and France, Chateau Haut Smith Laffite. Now I am back at my house in my hometown, and I’ve started intense training toward the 2015 season.
Any wines blowing your mind right now in France?
Yes. Definitely the Chateau Haut Smith Laffite 2005 is incredible.
Where do you go for good wine and food in Indy?
There are some really cool little places in Indy for dinner. One of my favorites is Amalfi on 86th Street. I also love Tegry Bistro and Kazan Sushi Steakhouse, my favorite sushi places. I like to buy wine in a specialty shop to support their business and because they always have wine from everywhere. I used to go to Kahn’s on 86th Street and Township Line Road.
Will you make sure there’s good wine at Rev?
If I have a say, I have a few ideas on a special tasting we could do and perhaps talk to a few local shops who could come to the event. One of my good friends and personal sponsor owns Domaine Tour St. Michel winery in Chateauneuf du Pape. I will ask them to send a few bottles for tasting with cheese.
When you won the Grand Prix last year, how did you celebrate?
We had the whole team come to my bus to take a picture with the trophy. I savored the moment looking at the Pagoda! It was an awesome day.
Rev represents a new tradition at the 500, and it’s a stylish party. Usually it’s a different scene in the infield. Have you seen anything really crazy at the 500?
Oh yeah, especially when you stay at the racetrack in the bus. We get to see some interesting outfits and costumes when people cruise around.
What’s something you hope never changes about the 500?
The length of the event helps the build-up. The Pagoda in blue is quite special. The bricks. Gasoline Alley and its crowd!