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

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  1. Derek said on 12th April 2010, 16:39

    I watched it for two years 1993/4 when our Nigell went over and showed them how to do it! He drove for Newman Hass with the Andrettis Mario & Micheal.

  2. Chaz said on 12th April 2010, 18:35

    I don’t mind Indy but struggle with any motor racing series that races around ovals. I prefer it when they race around a circuit. The same applies to Nascar. In truth I’m more a fan of open wheel first off but I do like 2 wheel racing like motogp and WSBK and also enjoy jetsprint and powerboat racing to name a few as the list could go on and on lol.

    But as I say many other forms of motorsport are very entertaining including something I watched the other day on MotorTV that had these mega powered pick-up trucks racing flat out around an oversized BMX dirt track flying over bumps with big air and smashing and flipping over into each other like bumper cars, completely mental. I wish I could remeber the name of the series…

  3. mitchibob said on 13th April 2010, 0:40

    OK.. after watching some of race yesterday, I have to say, Indycar is still NOTHING on F1. Regardless of overtaking, etc., the American commentary is just absolute drivel, and the action wasn’t much better. After Sato ‘stalled’ and the ridiculous procession that followed, I completely lost interest.

    Just so glad the Qatar MotoGP race made up for it with proper excitement…. Stoner crashing out has already turned this season of MotoGP into one to watch, because he’s not going to do that often, and has something to chase already! But crashes were far from the highlight of that race… but just incredible rides from a number of riders.

  4. Eric said on 13th April 2010, 1:02

    Don’t call it Indycar, call it what it is “Danicar” All for the glory of that over rated snotty b&*ch Danica Patrick. Bunch of second rate, wanna be F1 drivers who act like they are better than Senna or Shumacher!! And consider this Keith… FOUR GIRLS race in the series!! Really how competitive can it be?? Not to sound sexist but the reality is women are not as good as men in racing, History has proven this. And the majority of the series is based on Danica. I am an American and was a fan of CART and CHAMPCAR, it was ruined by Tony George and the hyped up Danica. Now the IRL is a joke of series with no where near the talent of GP2 much less F1!!!!!!!!!

    • mitchibob said on 13th April 2010, 3:09

      “Danicar”… … couldn’t have said it better myself! :-)

    • GWbridge said on 13th April 2010, 5:31

      Eric, that’s quite a lot of drivel to pack into one paragraph. As for women in racing, Danica is a real racer and usually finishes ahead of most of the men. In fact, she finished 5th in the final standings out of 40 drivers. Doesn’t sound as if you have a handle on ANY of your facts. Simona de Silvestro has been very competitive and feisty on the track. It’s only a matter of time until some woman has the combination of talent, backers and luck it takes to make any champion.

      • Eric said on 13th April 2010, 22:19

        Danica is a real racer and usually finishes ahead of most of the men.?? Really GW? What the hell does that say about the talent level in that series??? And by the way I can’t remember.. How many women champions has there been??? Oh yea right NONE!

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 13th April 2010, 8:21

      act like they are better than Senna or Shumacher

      I’ve never seen any indication of this whatsoever. Generally they comes across as an unpretentious bunch who are a lot more media-friendly than F1 drivers are.

      FOUR GIRLS race in the series!! Really how competitive can it be?? Not to sound sexist but the reality is women are not as good as men in racing, History has proven this.

      I think you’re onto a loser the moment you start using phrases like “not to sound sexist, but…”

      We’ve only ever seen a tiny number of women competing in the top level of motorsport. A tiny fraction compared to the number of male drivers. No way near enough to draw any worthwhile conclusions about whether women can be as competitive as men in top-flight motor racing.

  5. pride said on 13th April 2010, 4:53

    F1 should learn from indy cars on race courses. Very close racing as f1 used to be,equal cars were you can more easily see who is the best, high definition, nice website, etc. I think that if indy creat equal cars but with the technolgy of f1 in the new cars in engine and transmission and do just 1 oval race it can easily surpass f1. Do races just in Europe, U.S. and Canada on the best circuits rather than those asian boring mega construction entertainment parks rather than race circuits. Barber Motorsport circuit is amazing, as good as silverstone, spa, monza, brands hatch, nurburgring, gilles villeneuve, watkins glen

  6. Joel said on 13th April 2010, 16:37

    I followed Indycar, then CART, and then gave up. Now with Tony George gone I’m willing to test the waters again, but honestly, those cars are the ugliest racing cars in the history of mankind. When those cars are gone, the last vestiges of the old republic will be swept away, and I will give it a chance again…


  7. Jerry said on 14th April 2010, 14:52

    Unfortunately, when people think of American racing, they usually refer to Nascar or oval racing; neither of which I would waste my time watching. CART was a fantastic series until it was ruined by “Boy George” taking his Indy 500 and going home sulking. The IndyCar Series is trying a comeback, but the chassis/engine combination is horrible and the new designs aren’t much better. I will watch the series on street/permanent road courses, but won’t bother with any of the ovals (which are meant for dirt track racers anyway). As far as Danica and Milka, one hopes Simona will far overshadow their inabilities/lack of talent (other than female) and give the media something else to focus on. I still prefer F1; even with all the circuses and politics.

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