Why you should watch… IndyCar

St Petersburg is one of nine non-oval tracks in IndyCar this year

St Petersburg is one of nine non-oval tracks in IndyCar this year

In the first of a new series, readers are invited to put their case for another racing series F1 fans should watch. I’ll start the ball rolling by banging the drum for IndyCar.

Think ‘IndyCar’ and many European racing fans think ‘ovals’. But this year’s IndyCar championship features more road and street tracks than ovals as the series becomes ever closer in spirit to its CART heyday.

A case in point is the splendid new Barber Motorsport Park in Alabama where the third IndyCar round of 2010 takes place – which I will be watching closely this Sunday evening.

The split and the recovery

There’s no pretending IndyCar racing today is the force it was when I first started following sport in the early nineties.

Back then the American-based championship was so popular that Bernie Ecclestone tried to arrange a head-to-head race between the best drivers of both series, and began importing American racing ideas like refuelling and safety car periods.

But in the mid-nineties the championship split in two, and didn’t re-unify until 2008. In that period fans switched off in their millions and started watching NASCAR instead. Sponsors and, increasingly, drivers, did likewise.

A challenging calendar

Eventually it was the breakaway faction that prevailed and this series, which began in 1996, originally raced exclusively on ovals. It wasn’t until 2005 that road and street tracks were added and today the series enjoys a mix of all three disciplines: eight ovals, five road courses and four street circuits.

And there’s no sanitised Tilke-dromes here. The championship takes in fast, flowing, undulating road courses like Watkins Glen and Sears’ Point. It has classic street tracks such as Long Beach and Toronto.

And if you think all ovals are the same, compare the 2.5-mile, 225mph lap of Indianapolis with the 0.89-mile, traffic-heavy Iowa oval.

The diversity of courses means drivers’ performances tend to wax and wane – drivers like ex-Jaguar F1 driver Justin Wilson excel on road courses while others come to the fore on ovals.

An IndyCar champion has to perform across disciplines and that’s exactly what Dario Franchitti did last year with victories on all three types of circuit.

The 2010 season

Australian Will Power has won the first two races of this season and so far the series has upheld its reputation for exciting races. The first round at a new street course in Brazil, held a few hours after the torpid F1 season opener in Bahrain, concluded with Power edging Ryan Hunter-Reay in an exciting battle for the lead.

It may not have F1’s cutting-edge technology but IndyCar boasts several talented drivers and a challenging mix of tracks. It is also far more fan-friendly than F1 – just look how many IndyCar drivers are on our Twitter Directory.

British fans can watch the third round of the IndyCar championship from Barber Motorsport Park is on Sky Sports at 8.30pm on Sunday 11th April.

If you haven’t got Sky IndyCar broadcast their races live online for free via their Race Control service – another example of the excellent service they provide for fans.

Next month sees the blue-riband Indianapolis 500 on May 30th, a few hours after the Turkish Grand Prix. I’m considering running our first ever non-F1 live blog for the famous race so if you’re interested please let me know in the comments.

2010 IndyCar series

What motorsport would you recommend other F1 fans to follow? If you want to put the case for your favourite non-F1 category write a guest article and send it in. More information here: Write a guest article for F1 Fanatic

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172 comments on Why you should watch… IndyCar

  1. Plink Plonk Plunk said on 11th April 2010, 19:20

    Thanks for posting this Keith.

    Indy Car may not have all the glamour and technical advances that F1 has, but it doesnt have all the unnecessary drama either.

    Would like to see them run at Spa in the future as they start racing abroad more. Looking forward to my home race at Long Beach in a weeks time.

    I would be interested in a live blog during these races. Barber should be a great track for this series. Isnt this the track that USF1 was, supposibly, going to do some testing on?

  2. I am a big fan of F-1, but I like IndyCar too. I also like WSBK. I know many people like MotoGP, Rossi and so on, but for me WSBK is more interesting then MotoGP.

  3. DomPrez said on 11th April 2010, 20:46

    watching indy race now, wishing there was a live blog :(

  4. RubinhoFan said on 11th April 2010, 20:51

    Just watching the race now the camera coverage is terrible and the race seems worse then the bahrain GP

  5. Untitled258 said on 11th April 2010, 21:05

    Ok, i have the indy car on now, and it seems to be streaming well. The only problem is i have the MotoGP on too, which i do prefer to Indy, its hard to watch them both at the same time!! :(

  6. Rob Knight said on 11th April 2010, 22:07

    I watched the first 25 laps of the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama and it wasn’t the racing that made it boring but the footage which was mostly ariel shots meaning the cars were merely dots on the screen driving around the circuit! There needs to be lots more ground level shots and also onboard shots like Formula 1 for it to be as good as F1.

    • Untitled258 said on 11th April 2010, 22:14

      Yep, kind of annoying! Also the fact they don’t show the replays :(

      Still, pretty decent non the less.

    • The TV coverage is very good, but race control isn’t. You can watch the onboards if you want though, from 4 drivers every race.

  7. US_Peter said on 11th April 2010, 22:23

    Yeah, I’m watching the whole thing just to give it a shot, but that streaming coverage is really annoying. The announcers are calling passes and action that isn’t being shown on the live stream which is very frustrating. It’s also interesting how much less precise they are about fuel strategy, and just all of the technical aspects in general in comparison to F1. Looks like after dominating the whole race Marco Andretti won’t win due to his team underestimating the amount of fuel he would use in the 2nd and 3rd stints. Their pit stops also look a lot more amateur compared to F1, but that said, they’re still surprisingly fast.

    • US_Peter said on 11th April 2010, 22:25

      As an American F1 fan, it’d be great to see Andretti get himself a Formula 1 drive. Would he be the first third generation F1 driver? I know he tested with Honda a couple times in the ’06/’07 winter and was just over a second slower than Button. I wonder why he hasn’t tried a little harder to get into F1.

      • GWbridge said on 13th April 2010, 1:04

        Peter, I don’t know why any American driver would want to drive in F1 and put up with all of the verbal abuse, prejudicial treatment, and disrespectful treatment he or she would have to endure. Some drivers have a life in the country where they live. Remember, Mario was born in Italy, had strong ties to the European racing scene, and Formula One was a life-long dream for him. Michael was always under enormous pressure to live up to his father’s career. That was not unexpected and probably self-imposed by Michael, but he had a life and a family in the USA and was never really fully comitted to F1. He never moved to Europe, but he was always treated as an outsider and probably didn’t get a fair deal all the way around. Jump forward to Marco who grew up as a priveleged son of very wealthy family in the USA. He’s a talented driver, but does he have the kind of drive that his Italian-immigrant grandfather had? Let Marco be Marco. We should have let Michael be Michael. I am just very pleased that there are so many Andrettis who are happy, healthy and successful where they are at present. And that includes Michael’s cousin John who will be in the 500 again this year.

  8. IndyCar race in Barber wasnt the most interesting race this season, but still more interesting then F-1 in Bahrain.

  9. Mike said on 11th April 2010, 22:52

    The TV coverage of the race is far better than the streaming coverage on their website in case anyone from Europe was wondering.
    I just got done watching the race and thought it was pretty good. Kinda petered out towards the end. But it kept me entertained instead of working on homework.

    • Untitled258 said on 11th April 2010, 22:55

      Thats just more fustrating to know! I want replays! Maybe i should get sky or something. Ive been considoring getting the xbox360 sky player, too expensive though i think, i cant get regular sky in my flat :(

    • The funny thing is, these Euro’s couldn’t Fig. out how to change cams online…6 in car cams,2pit lane cams ,4 track level cams…an their watch the race from the Heli cam…too funny ,next time maybe one of us should tell them how to change cams…but not from me…i ask for a free VPN from England an they never pass on this info

  10. F1Yankee said on 11th April 2010, 23:33

    i’d like to blog here during indianapolis. if it goes well can we get a montreal / le mans combo? :)

  11. AlanP said on 12th April 2010, 0:52

    I watched both the indycar Race and all three of the motoGp races. indycar race wasn’t bad at all, not too much passing, but certainly more than F1 @Bahrain!!

    As per usual the 125 and new moto2 were excellent, lots of passing and riders mixing it up. motoGP was also better than usual, no one rider seemed to ride away with it which happened a lot last year. WSBK was also on this year and this gives far more action, more equal riders on more equal machinery than motoGP as well and is worth watching! Loads of brits on good machinery in WSBK too!

  12. AlanP said on 12th April 2010, 0:52

    Bah! I said this year, I meant this weekend!

  13. Jev said on 12th April 2010, 1:47

    what is the equivalent to indy? is it gp2/formula 2 or gp3/formula 3?

    think i’ve watched some in the past, indy/irl/champ (sorry but i can’t tell the difference), is it good to watch now?

  14. pitt layne said on 12th April 2010, 9:26

    Indy Car is a shadow of its former self. It will no longer be what it was. American audiences pumped up the ratings because the races were exciting, the venues diverse, and there were far more American drivers mixed in with real champion veterans. Fittipaldi, Mansell, Andretti. The feeder series, Indy Lights and Atlantics, gave homegrowns a ladder to follow through to Indy Cars. Now all American talent heads to NASCAR style racing. More ratings and more money. Without a feeder series and “former” WDC coming over for effect the popularity will stagnate. Now it’s just a series of neverwills and second gens. Remember, Senna tested an IndyCar at Firebird Raceway in Arizona back in the day.

  15. Andrew G said on 12th April 2010, 12:05

    A few people have already mentioned it but I will agree that it would be good if we got Indy car races televised here in Australia. Especially considering an Australian is winning and another almost won the series last year. Maybe one day.

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