Three days ago, I watched the IndyCar street race through Toronto. I left the couch wondering why more F1 fans don’t watch Indy. Not only do many F1 fans ignore IndyCar as a whole, but they criticize the sport as being boring and talentless.
A year ago, I would have done the same. I would have watched two laps of a typical Indy race and mocked the sport. After being a little more open-minded (and somewhat bored), I sat down to watch the Toronto race and found myself deeply enthralled in a fascinating race. I thought to myself, “Many F1 fans appreciate different forms of motorsport, why are they so critical of IndyCar? Of course, there are fans of both series out there. But there seems to be some strange, mysterious disrespect between the two series, so I set out to find reasons as to why this would happen.
First of all, IndyCar is incredibly American in it’s presentation. The fans are American, the announcers are American, and the teams are American as well. I hate to say it, but this could be seen as a problem, mostly from European fans. Unfortunately, the American presenters tend to dumb down the technical aspects of the cars and focus on the spectacle, and are usually very exuberant in doing so. After watching F1 and interacting with European fans and supporters, it is clear to me why Americanized motorsport could be a turn-off.
Although the presentation of the sport is incredibly American, the drivers themselves come from around the world. There are only six American drivers in a field of twenty. Other nationalities include Spanish, Brazilian, Japanese, British, Australian, and several others. In terms of driver diversity, IndyCar is certainly on par with Formula 1.
Another frequent complaint concerns the oval racing. IndyCar is criticized as being boring because the cars only turn left. It is very clear as to why F1 fans would find this boring. However, it is unfair to critique oval racers as being talentless. Their throttle inputs and positioning of the car is incredibly skillful and should not go unnoticed. Also, oval racing makes for incredibly close battles up and down the field that can last for dozens of laps, unlike F1 scraps. When racing at 220 miles per hour, the incredible precision used by the drivers during overtaking maneuvers is fantastic to watch.
Not only can oval racing be exciting, but the road courses in the IndyCar schedule are fantastic to watch. Throughout the season, there are only 5 oval races. The majority of races in IndyCar are now on circuits and street courses. The races are fantastic to watch, and even though the cars are not as fast or sophisticated as F1 cars, the racing is still tight. Motorsport fans should appreciate a good race, no matter how quickly the cars are going.
One can not deny the fact that IndyCars are less technologically advanced than F1 cars. F1 is, and will always be the pinnacle of motorsport. IndyCars chassis are supplied all by one company, and therefore there is no variation in the design aspect from team to team. This is a large negative aspect of F1, as it allows for no in-season development as we have in F1, and no variation in strategy from an aerodynamics point of view. However, similar to the GP2 series, a single manufacturer leads to closer racing and a more competitive field. This should be considered a benefit, no matter what racing series you watch.
The list of ‘problems’ went on and on in my head. But I found that for each argument I made against IndyCar, I found a counter argument in its favor. I understand why F1 fans don’t watch IndyCar; the simple issue of broadcasting often limits motor racing fans from certain series. However, after watching the Toronto race, it was impossible for me to tell why F1 fans can be so critical of IndyCar. The drivers are talented. They go through years of training just like F1 drivers. The racing is extremely close due to a large field and a single supplier. No matter what the series, a fan of motorsports should be able to appreciate a competitive race, rather than criticize everything about it. I’m sure I can’t change whether or not people will watch IndyCar, but I encourage others to watch an IndyCar race in the hopes that they will respect it for what it is: good racing.