The time to beat was one minute and 26 seconds at the Indianapolis Auto Show Saturday.

It’s Josh Hamilton’s time, a Ford Motor representative at the six-day auto show. Hamilton was running the automaker’s 2016 Ford GT Mustang simulator. After signing a liability release form, individuals could race the $80,000 machine that rotated left, right, up and down with each maneuver they made on the virtual version of Germany’s Nurburgring race track.

Ford also had a talking robot named Hank, gift giveaways and representatives greeting potential customers. It’s not just an auto show — it’s engagement. Over two dozen other auto divisions were trying to do the same with potential carbuyers and enthusiasts at the Indiana Convention Center.

Hamilton said on average he can get 1,000 people to ride the simulator during a three-day auto show. At this six-day event, he expects 2,000 virtual racers. The Ford representative said the company wants to draw people in and, using technological advances like the Mustang simulator and Hank the Robot, help make customers comfortable.

“It’s something new for us to show besides putting butts in seats,” Hamilton said. “It gives everybody something different to do and have fun.”

Sam Douglas, 29, agreed it was a fun ride. He simulator time was 1:43.

He considers himself a “Chevy-through-and-through” guy, but walked around the Ford exhibit and drove the simulator.

“It looks cool,” he said. “I think it’ll help draw the crowd in. It gets people around the products.”

Douglas, a Brownsburg resident, said he was thinking about buying a new car and attended the auto show to see what would be available in the coming year.

Ford wasn’t the only company to use perks and special effects to draw consumers in. Hyundai had a smaller driver simulator, free gifts, a trophy case of awards and a guest lounge area.

Toyota Industries representatives said the automaker has contracted with the Peers Foundation the past three years for Toyota 365, a distracted-driver simulator to teach teenagers about the dangers of texting and other disturbances while driving.

Scott Landgraf, district sales manager for Kia Motors, said this was his first auto show in years, but said he knows customers want to be engaged with car companies without feeling pressured into immediately buying a vehicle.

“(It allows them to) peruse a lot of different cars and compare them,” Landgraf said. “It can be hard at a dealership to compare different cars.”

The Kia rep said he’s seen more technology at this year’s show than previous years. The exhibit included their newest models as well as a green screen for participants to take photos with Kia’s mascot hamsters.

A 30-foot-wide platform in the center of the exhibit spotlighted a 2016 KiA Optima SXL Sport Limited, while more of the latest models with the flashiest features faced the outer edges of the area. Customers were also informed of current deals and specials if they chose to go to a local dealer to purchase a car.

“More technology, I think, is the big thing,” he said. “I see more screens. I see more interaction.”

The Indianapolis Auto Show runs through Jan. 1 at the Indiana Convention Center.

Call Star reporter Olivia Lewis at (317) 444-6126. Follow her on Twitter: @TheWrittenPeace.