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A little birdie told me…

As drivers revv their engines for the first practice runs of the Grand Prix of Baltimore, race organizers will outsource some of their promotional duties to a select group of social media users in hopes of spreading race news to a larger audience.

Andretti Sports Marketing, the firm in charge of promoting the race, handpicked 28 Twitter users to include a special hashtag — #SocialGP — while Tweeting during the event. In return, each user will receive a free reserved grandstand seat each race day.

Organizers had previously said they wouldn’t distribute free tickets to the public.

The marketing team has also provided general admission tickets to some restaurants and hotels for those business owners to include in special packages for their patrons, according to ASM General Manager Tim Mayer. Mayer talked about “an exchange of value” between his group and the business owners who received tickets, but did not  specify whether they’d received a partial or full discount off the ticket price.

Gurss said giving tickets to those on the #SocialGP list is just another element of their marketing strategy, because they’re counting on the benefits of extra exposure on social media platforms.

“We don’t see it any differently than buying a radio ad,” said ASM Communications Director Jade Gurss.

The idea, Gurss said, is to piggyback on these users’ supposed heavy influence in the Twittersphere, so updates, details and Twitpics can reach as many people as possible, particularly those who wouldn’t otherwise be interested in the race.

Organizers selected the people on the list themselves, considering how many followers each user has, the topics they usually Tweet about and their “involvement and passion for the city of Baltimore,” according to a press release.

Members of the media or people already familiar with the motorsports world were eliminated automatically from the list.

“The goal was to engage people who aren’t already fans,” Gurss said.

Andretti Sports Marketing has recently been “educating” these Tweeters about motorsports and sharing interesting tidbits — IndyCar drivers will hit 180 mph on Pratt Street, dontcha know — to prepare them for their coverage this weekend.

And free tickets aren’t the only perks for these lucky Twittering birdies. They’re getting special treatment throughout the weekend, such as invites to private events.

And “to help develop a more direct rooting interest in the race action, each #SocialGP member has been ‘paired’ with leading drivers and teams from the IZOD IndyCar Series and the American Le Mans Series,” according to an ASM press release.

Gurss said he thinks “a lot of folks got in for free last year.”

Well, at least they’ll know for certain this time around.