What I’d like to see in a perfect IndyCar world

What I’d like to see in a perfect IndyCar world
What I’d like to see in a perfect IndyCar world

In my perfect IndyCar world:

— There would be as many oval tracks on the program as road and street courses, with a return to the Triple Crown of 500-mile races.

— The cars would look like something designed for the next decade, not the last, with 1,000 horsepower provided by a mix of internal combustion, hybrid and electric engines from various manufacturers.

– The best drivers would be household names in American sports, like Andretti, Foyt, Unser, Rutherford and Mears were in the glory years. And you wouldn’t have to explain to the average guy that it’s not NASCAR or Formula 1.

It’s the IndyCar series and it’s really good in its current, if not perfect, form. The parity across the field has never been better and there are drivers with personality waiting to be discovered by the average sports fan that IndyCar desperately needs to capture.

This is IndyCar, where the sensory experience is unmatched. If you haven’t witnessed the 230 mph blur on the main straight at Indy (the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway) in person, you haven’t seen (heard or felt) anything like it. IndyCar is really a good thing.

But why have so many fans stumbled upon the series these days? The past few weeks haven’t been the best for IndyCar, and social media was full of anger (but then Santa Claus on his best day would face the wrath of human nature in online forums).

* Racing fans felt let down when ticket prices for the 2023 Iowa Speedway double-header races/concerts skyrocketed from this year’s event.

* Then there was a collective sense of balloon air a few weeks ago when an IndyCar press release revealed that the highly anticipated 2.4-liter hybrid-assist engine, due for the 2024 season , was no longer on the table.

*Instead, the 700-hp 2.2-liter twin-turbo V6 that was introduced in 2012 will remain for 2023, with hybrid technology added to this 2.2-liter package from 2024. All we can say, it’s “UGH!”

* Cue the outrage online because IndyCar in 2023, with chassis and engine assemblies over a decade old, could be considered a vintage series (a really cool vintage series, I might add).

I get disappointment. Everyone was looking forward to a more powerful engine and the introduction of hybrid technology. But when you see the reasons for the decision to accept this project, you realize that it was the right one.

Without a third manufacturer joining the series as had been hoped, Chevy and Honda could not secure enough new 2.4 engines to field 25 to 27 cars as was common this year, and that would make getting 33 to the ‘Indy 500 really risky.

IndyCar couldn’t take that step back, not after so many steps forward over the past decade to produce a quality of racing that is arguably the best of any major motorsport series.

But let’s be realistic. The biggest challenge facing IndyCar isn’t the number of horses pushing elegant old Dallara, or even the need for more ovals on the schedule beyond the four they’ll run in 2023.

IndyCar needs more eyeballs on the show, especially young eyeballs. The Global IndyCar Fan Survey conducted in January 2022 by Motorsports Network showed that the average IndyCar fan was just over 42 years old and 47% of IndyCar fans were 45 and over. .

And here’s another “UGH!” : Only 12.2% of IndyCar fans are women.

And budding fans? My feeling is that there are a lot of people intrigued by motorsport who would love IndyCar.

I spend a lot of time on the golf course – almost every day – and my buddies often ask me about IndyCar. They are your core sports fans and they are intrigued by the show even if they don’t understand it.

“So it’s like NASCAR?”

Uh no. These are full-bodied racing cars; they are freewheel single-seaters.

“Oh, it’s like Formula 1. I saw that ‘Drive to Survive’ series on Netflix. It’s incredible.

Not enough. Yes, the cars look a bit alike, but they are very different. IndyCar racing is much more competitive. You would like that.

A guy in his early 30s had attended his first NASCAR race, the championship race in November in Phoenix, and was in awe.

“I couldn’t believe how fast these cars were. Is this what IndyCars look like?

My answer: “You should have seen IndyCar on the same track when they raced there. Average speed about 50 mph faster. And in Indy, you’d be amazed at the speed.

How does IndyCar capture young fans? It’s a multi-million dollar marketing question.

The two-day entertainment/racing extravaganza in Iowa seems like a good move, though inflated ticket prices for the 2023 weekend – mostly due to the big bucks the series will have to shell out for musical entertainment like that Ed Sheeran (editor’s note: somehow we have to wonder if this Brit is more of an F1 fan than an IndyCar fan), Carrie Underwood, Kenny Chesney and the Zac Brown Band – pushed back some people who were there last year. If they’re turned away, we’ll know.

The recently announced “100 Days to Indy” docuseries on the CW network could generate significant interest if the production fully captures the personalities, rivalries, intensity, elation, heartbreak and drama that exist in IndyCar.

A third engine supplier joining Chevy and Honda would be a big boost, although it doesn’t seem imminent.

I would love to see the series progress beyond hybrid technology and introduce fully electric racing cars. (When I mentioned the hybrid thing to a veteran IndyCar entrant a few months ago, his response was, “It’s so 2010.”)

Before you suggest I get in my Prius and drive off, know two things:

1. The only electric vehicle I own is a golf cart. I also own two muscle cars, two family SUVs and a 1960s pickup that I restore to a rat rod cruiser. I like the carburetors and the rumble.

2. I would love to see all-electric IndyCars compete on the same grid with internal combustion cars because the plot (also known as eyes on the series) would be huge. Can you imagine a fan base divided into two camps? T-shirts alone would be entertaining – “ICE is for sweet tea” or “If you’re into gas, you’re an xss.”

Electrification in the automotive industry is gaining momentum and, like it or not, motorsport will follow.

Until then, IndyCar should feel good about the product it has. It’s a good race and the biggest shame is that more people don’t pay attention.

Hopefully, with effective marketing and products on and off the track that capture younger audiences, this will begin to change.

. perfect IndyCar world

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