If you ask an Italian motorsport fan what Indycar is, the most frequent answer is “American Formula 1.” I had the same opinion before approaching this category. However, it was clear from the early races that American competitions are much better than how they are portrayed, and offer much of what is lacking in current F1. In this article I will therefore get you through Indycar, revealing what I enjoyed most about the previous season.
Drivers do what they want.
Do you hate team orders? Well, they don’t exist in America, as there is no constructors’ championship. Although drivers are divided into teams, each has their own smaller, autonomous crew. Each driver has their own strategist, a personal spotter for ovals, and a pit stop area separate from those of the other drivers racing for the same team. Belonging to either of the two engine suppliers Chevrolet and Honda also does not affect the drivers’ personal strategy, so they are allowed to race as they wish.
Drivers’ freedom, however, is not the only factor increasing competition. All cars have the same chassis, supplied by Dallara, and the same type of engine, either Chevrolet or Honda. All tires are supplied exclusively by Firestone. The grid is not limited to a fixed number of drivers, and there are many part-timers who run only a few races. So you get more polemen, more winners, and a championship wide open all the way to the end, with tighter standings. Very different from F1 where only Leclerc takes pole, only Verstappen wins, and the championship is wrapped up at mid-season.
The flow of talents
Looking among the drivers racing in Indycar, one can see many old acquaintances from F1 and its minor categories. In many cases, they are talented youngsters who seemed destined to make their fortunes in Europe, but couldn’t find a place in Formula 1 because of limited seats and contract renewals to older or questionable drivers. This trend seems to be confirmed by the pre-season 2023 drivers’ market, in which many European talents are being approached by American teams and are taking part in summer testing. Additionally, the ease with which one can move from the propaedeutic Indy Lights category (recently renamed Indy NXT) to NTT Indycar explains why most of the exciting young drivers will prefer America over Europe for their future.
Multiple kinds of tracks
Indycar combines the American tradition of ovals with the types of tracks we Europeans are more accustomed to, so permanent road circuits and street circuits. With these kinds of tracks, there’s something to suit everybody’s fancy! Oval racing offers unique entertainment and is often unfairly criticized by those who are not used to it (the famous “They only run in circles“). Indycar have set up an award for anyone who is capable of winning a race on each type of track: the “PeopleReady Force for Good Challenge” award. The aim was proving the importance the category places on variety, and the winner receives $1 million to share with a charity of their choice.
Are you tired of waking up at dawn to watch F1 races in Japan, Australia etc.? Do you want to see more races in the evening? Well, Indycar is for you. With the 6-9 hour difference between Italy and the U.S., it is very unlikely to see races starting before 7 p.m. CET. The disadvantage is that in some cases they start past midnight, but for motorsport all this and more!
These were the main factors that I liked about Indycar.
How about you? Will you follow the American category next year?