1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
Dismiss Notice
Like RaceDepartment on Facebook.

IndyCar going in the right direction?

Discussion in 'IndyCar' started by Rob, Feb 9, 2015.

  1. Rob

    Rob
    XBO: OctoberDusk06 Premium Member

    [​IMG]
    Many believe INDYCAR is turning the corner after a long cold winter that split the series in two. With F1 in such a state of angst, can the premier American-based open wheel series ever go toe to toe with European based F1 again?

    It's no secret that The Verizon INDYCAR Series flies under the radar outside the United States, but many don't realize that it also does the same within the United States. Although per race viewers increased 34% from 2013 to 2014 in the U.S., it might surprise many to hear that viewership still pales in comparison to NASCAR. Even F1 commands roughly equal the number of U.S. viewers per race.

    Some in Europe may have lost touch with the Series they knew as CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams) after Motorsports Hall of Fame member Nigel Mansell, in 1993, became the only driver to hold the CART and F1 Championship at the same time. This was the height of CART/INDYCAR's popularity, which was arguably the most followed open-wheel series in the world with drivers named Mario Andretti, Mansell, Foyt, Fittipaldi, Unser, Jr. , Sullivan, Bobby Rahal, and Brabham. Since then, the popularity of F1 has skyrocketed and IndyCar cannot hold a candle to the world-wide love of F1.

    However, trends are trends, which can snowball rather quickly in motorsport, especially given the INDYCAR reunification (after a very acrimonious split precipitated by Tony George in 1996, who was since removed from the IMS Board of Directors by his sisters and mother); INDYCAR engine competition and redesign which took the opposite approach from F1 (the return of higher revving twin turbo V8s with new aero packages that many think allow more design freedom than F1); and an influx of a wide variety of talented international drivers, including former F1 talent, such as Takuma Sato, Juan Pablo Montoya (the rare F1 talent who does not struggle with ovals due to his NASCAR experience), Sébastien Bourdais and Luca Filippi, as well as internationally recognized drivers such as Tony Kanaan, Scott Dixon, and Hélio Castroneves. Furthermore, recent F1 drivers Max Chilton, Kevin Magnussen, and Simona de Silvestro (who tails a long line of female IndyCar drivers) have all expressed interest in joining or returning to INDYCAR. Contrast this with a crisis of declining worldwide T.V. viewership of about 33% in the last five years in F1, a series that many say has lost its identity, you may want to browse a few INDYCAR races again, if you aren't already a fan. Tracks are diverse enough to fit all tastes, including superspeedways, small ovals, road courses, and street courses.

    If you choose to have another look at INDYCAR, you may want to keep an eye on the following stories:

    First, the unlikely but effective trio of Jack Hawksworth, Takuma Sato, and A.J. Foyt. Foyt, of course, is a living legend inside INDYCAR, and has earned that status not only by winning but being uncompromising, demanding, and rough. One year he backhanded Arie Luyendyk in the pit lane after a confrontation. Sato has proven that he's a viable and real threat, with talent to spare, however it's the stark personality difference with he and A.J. that catch many fans' attention. Insiders realize Mr. Foyt knows how to pick talent and now realize he's not going to let his ego or personality stand in the way. (Sato finished 8th in a BAR Honda after the 2004 F1 season). U.K. Fans can claim three drivers, one being rising star Jack Hawksworth who graduated to open wheel racing in late 2010 and competed in the 2010 Formula Renault series and claimed pole position in 4 out of the 6 races and finished 3rd overall in the championship and top rookie ahead of the Red Bull Juniors Daniil Kvyat and Mclaren Autosport Award winner Oliver Rowland. Many feel the Foyt team will be a major surprise with this sort of diverse, yet mutually respectful talent.

    Second, the new areo packages, which allow each team to pick and choose certain parts that can alter the flow of air in many different and creative ways. Thus, INDYCAR is attempting to transform itself from a spec series to what it used to be...ground zero for innovation by team engineers, not regulatory bodies. Perhaps the new aero regulations are best described by INDYCAR director of aerodynamic development Tino Belli:

    "The engine cover, sidepods and rear wheel guards are common between the speedway and road/street course/short oval packages. On the speedways, the manufacturers can do a new front wing main plane, rear wing end plates, front wing end plates. Teams are allowed to use optional components that fit to the sidepods, engine cover and rear wheel guards such as winglets and flicks."

    "The teams will have quite a lot of things they can play with if they decide that they can come up with a better solution for their particular requirements and their driver or car set-up. The car set-up is not only going to be a downforce level like a wing angle, springs, shocks, toe and camber. If a particular type of mechanical set-up needs an aerodynamic solution, they can try what they like.
    Another thing we're allowing is all of these optional components can now be changed between qualifying and the race. A team could decide to go for a super low drag qualifying set-up and use the newness of the tires to try to get the speed and then revert to a more high-downforce race set-up, which could mean a change in some of the components on the sidepods, wheel guards and engine cover. For a long time, we had what you qualified with is what you raced.
    On the road course in addition to the sidepods, engine cover and rear wheel guards is the front wing flaps and end plates, and the rear wing end plates. The rear wing is a standard Dallara main plane for all events except for the Indy 500, during which teams can choose between the Dallara or their manufacturer's main plane. The engine air intake will be different from the Dallara chassis, too.
    " - From Indycar.com

    Third...raw power. It's been a while since someone qualified over 230 mph at The Brickyard and many believe the new aero regulations combined with the twin turbo allowances will push the cars close to that number, and then continue to build speed and head toward the qualifying record of 237 mph set by Arie Luyendyk in 1996. For the average race fan, speed is king, but safety considerations (akin to a fighter pilot having too much blood exit the brain) have made pushing the 1996 boundary a bit difficult. Striking a balance just below it on the ovals while increasing performance on the road courses (where INDYCAR lags far behind F1 in the speed category) may gain the series some lost credibility and attract talent who can be free to innovate and compete instead of being choked by regulation. And if you miss the old eight cylinder thunder of F1, all you need to do is listen to an INDYCAR these days, which is getting closer to sounding like what some miss most about F1.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2015
    • Winner Winner x 2
    • Like Like x 1
  2. I have been following IndyCar since 2012. What I love is the mix of tracks and talent of the drivers. I love how the aero-kits basically allow for all sorts of innovative ideas, but are built onto a spec chassis to lower costs. I wish the schedule was longer than 5 months, that really stinks :whistling:

    Personally, the excitement I get over IndyCar is greater than any other form of Motorsport because of the track and driver diversity.
     
    • Like Like x 3
  3. Rob

    Rob
    XBO: OctoberDusk06 Premium Member

    I think you have boiled it down perfectly. Some say we may be biased because we are American, but I have loved F1 too, for different reasons. However, at the end of the day, if you are raised to root for drivers and not organizations or teams, it's very difficult to deny that IndyCar forges the best drivers on the planet...for the reasons you state. It's not complicated, but a simple Formula. Very fast cars + oval, road, and street tracks + a jewel in the "triple crown" + all genders and nationalities welcome = the best racing series, IMO.
    It's a shame what happened during the split, as I believe that allowed F1 to (rightly) steal much of the thunder. However, I'll never buy that F1 is the "pinnacle" of racing, although it is no doubt the pinnacle of technology in racing.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  4. Nox

    Nox
    Staff Premium Member

    Nice article, it sets the scene nicely for a newcomer to IndyCar like me.

    @Robert Waddell I believe the WEC is now the pinnacle of technology in racing. Sure, F1 is advanced but to me F1 has far too many limitations on what car designers and mechanics can actually implement. The technical regulations of LMP1, for example, give freedom to engineers and allows them to include road-relevant technologies (constructors are running a range of hybrid engines, for example). Of course, I could be wrong, I am not an engineer :)

    As for IndyCar, I think I might try watching it this year. I've heard some good things about it lately and I might give it a shot. I have some time now that I won't be watching all the Tudor United Sports Car Championship (seriously, that coverage is really unbearable) though I worry IndyCar might be the same. That is my biggest concern - what is the TV coverage like?
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2015
  5. Rob

    Rob
    XBO: OctoberDusk06 Premium Member

    You make several good points I think. The coverage was so unbearable, it pained even me to watch. But that was until last year. I think NBC and ABC recognized that 2-3 color guys, including the unbearable Townsend Bell and Wally Dallenbach needed to go, although Bell still pops up from time to time. The best thing that happened last year was that lead announcer Diffey was covering F1 for a few races and so Varsha stepped in, who is much better than Diffey.

    NBC has most of the races, but only a semi-decent lineup of color announcers. I would argue it's as strong if not stronger than F1 *only* when Townsend Bell and Wally Dallenbach are not there. When that happens, some of the best color guys around, including Paul Tracy, Steve Matchett (F1) and David Hobbs (F1) sub in. NBC has the best anchors though, including mainstay Leigh Diffey and, even better, Bob Varsha, who used to be full time F1 and I think is the best in the world. Diffey is nowhere near as good, but he's not bad on F1. The problem with Diffey (Australian by birth) is that he somehow has it in his head that he needs to sound like a NASCAR announcer when he does IndyCar races. Thankfully, last year he toned that down because of the F1 color guys doing IndyCar sometimes.

    Speaking of NASCAR announcers, then you have ABC, who mainly covers the Indy 500, but also the opening race at Homestead and the Detroit races. Color guys on ABC sometimes are the same as other channels, but they have that moron Allan Bestwick, who is useless and needs to stay in NASCAR where people by into his vapid sensationalism. Marty Reid, who did a decent job as announcer, was the one Bestwick replaced. Otherwise, ABC has some very good color guys, who know IndyCar very well, including Scott Goodyear, and ex-driver, and Eddie Cheever, who is my personal favorite.

    16 Races, however, is not going to cut it. Granted, they are trying to slowly get back on their feet and one race was cancelled beyond their control, but they really need to have at least 20, with at least 3-4 outside the U.S. to be a legitimate contender. I think if the ratings keep going up and F1 keeps making wrong moves, this could happen. Indy 500 has always been their cash cow.

    This year, you will see increased speed, more strategy and team control over aero and pit adjustments and even better driver talent. Here is a testing session, with sounds that I like better now than F1...and the looks will remind people of the old school F1 cars with the winglets and air dams, once they add them in March.
     
    • Like Like x 2
    • Beer Beer x 2
  6. Nox

    Nox
    Staff Premium Member

    That was a lot of info, thank you!
     
    • Love Love x 1
  7. Rob

    Rob
    XBO: OctoberDusk06 Premium Member

    We have had something virtually identical to the WEC over here for about 10 years. It was called the American Le Mans Series. And I agree it was the only series that allowed manufacturers to come in and experiment and push the limits of technology. In fact, it was started by the guy who purchased my old home track, Road Atlanta...Don Panos. IMSA sanctioned it, so it was not really a big thing in Europe, but the WEC is simply the FIA snagging the idea and, of course, limiting the rules even more and chopping the schedule up. Now that Tudor is owned by NASCAR, who will undoubtedly ruin it unless IMSA holds firm or the fans revolt, I fear you will ultimately be right in that the WEC will be the only place for that kind of thing, but I'm not so confident it will be anywhere near as good as the old ALMS, since the FIA has its paws in it and the classes are nowhere near as diverse. Take the Delta Wing, for example.

    No matter, I think IndyCar will take over eventually. And there is always the DTM and the V8 Supercars, two of my personal favorites.

    Still not sure you can call WEC the pinnacle, when F1 cars cost large multiples more to produce.
     
  8. Nox

    Nox
    Staff Premium Member

    More expensive doesn't necessarily mean better... but yes, I do get your points. I managed to watch the last season of ALMS before the merger with GrandAm. WEC seem to be making steps in the right direction, even if they still need more work; making it financially viable for teams, for example; just look at the influx of manufacturers in LMP1 over the past years... Porsche, now Nissan, etc. I think one thing we both agree on is that F1 is shooting itself in the foot.

    To me, the biggest deciding factor on whether a race series can take advantage of the F1 lull is how easy it is to watch. IMSA uploads race repeats and highlights of all their races, for free, international (though I hear some in the US might have it blocked). That has done wonders for their viewing figures. DTM as well can be seen online, live, for free unless you're in certain countries. Those who embrace online viewers and make it easy for people to watch go from strength to strength (just look at how successful the Bathurst 12hr is becoming). On the flip side, F1 continues to move behind pay walls, now the V8 Supercars too, and that sort of thing will only damage each series.

    So, IndyCar could have the perfect race package, but if they don't get the exposure and open it up for international audiences to watch, it will mean nothing. (I don't know what the viewing options are internationally yet, I am going to have to search for it over here in Europe.)
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  9. Rob

    Rob
    XBO: OctoberDusk06 Premium Member

    Oh I completely agree with you about the expensive part.
    THE CAR
    Top F1 team: $125 million; Top IndyCar team: $3 million
    http://motorsportstalk.nbcsports.co...compete-in-formula-one-an-indycar-comparison/
    Yet, even in oval trim, the IndyCar would smash the F1 car on a superspeedway. Or, put differently, do fans really care about a 7 second gap on a road course when it cost $122M to get there? Maybe so....

    As much as it pains me to say it, I get the feeling that many in Europe view IndyCar as some kind of second class series to F1. In fact, if I said it wasn't I bet 80% of the people on this site would laugh me out of town.
    See: http://forums.autosport.com/topic/1...as-a-retirement-series-for-former-f1-drivers/
    But the truth in somewhere in between. Many in the U.S. (wrongly) think F1 is simply a playground for rich boys and their toys and no longer (or maybe even ever) really tested drivers on real scary tracks like Texas (where they had to cancel a race a while back because drivers were seeing things upside down and sideways when they came out of the turns). Some of this stems from the big debacle at Indy where the drivers refused to race. I remember that race well...many in the U.S. pointed to it as proof that F1 drivers lack cajones. Again wrongly. But I think we are past that as evidenced by Austin and I think if Europe could actually experience IndyCar the right way (either go to a race or really understand what it takes to drive those things on a superspeedway), attitudes would thaw. Problem is, F1 is an institution now and they have built a model (or had) that was second to none, at least on road courses. But like you said, we both agree they are headed in the wrong direction. Somehow I think they will realize this when the money stops flowing as much. Competition is good, and F1 needs to watch its back since nothing is immune from decline.

    No doubt that real race fans have preferences, but I think they also understand the intricacies of different forms of racing. I admire people like Montoya and a reject the notion that you have to be under 32 to be any good at racing. Even in F1. When you listen to him describe the grass roots of racing he loves and why he jumps around like he does, it's clear that he's a racer's racer. At least it is to me. Same with Mansell. Foyt. I could go on, but it's not that common these days. What it may take for Indy to break through is for someone like Alonso or Vettel to jump ship. Then F1 might be jarred into realizing that fans in most parts of the world follow drivers and drivers (Kimi is a good example) are not washed up because they have a bad F1 season. Your point about the WEC is a very strong one, and I in fact admire a guy like Webber more because he did what he did.

    This youth movement in F1 is hurting the sport. So is the built in sponsorships the drivers have to get. Such is life, and to some extent, I want F1 to be fancy and expensive, but not at the cost of killing the sport. I'm not sure where the middle ground is, but I think it lies with the manufacturers. Problem is, I don't think the FIA are about to give up control to them. There is a lesson to be learned from the 1992 IndyCar season and around it...the series was called "Championship Auto Racing Teams" which was a loose confederation of big shots like Penske and others, like Haas, et al. who ran the show, not a sanctioning body as big and powerful as the FIA. Not sure what to take from that, but your point about the WEC and my love for the old ALMS I think were somewhat pointed in that direction, which is good, IMO.

    As for viewing, good point. I do know a guy who I race with that loves IndyCar and says he watches it all the time in England. @Chris Hempsall is his name. Maybe he would know more about how to get the feeds over there?
     
    • Like Like x 2
  10. Nox

    Nox
    Staff Premium Member

    Robert, it is not often I get a concise and friendly chat about something online. That was very enjoyable, thank you. If I manage to watch some Indy Car I'll let you know what I thought of it. :thumbsup:
     
  11. Rob

    Rob
    XBO: OctoberDusk06 Premium Member

    Same to you. I'm going to make it a point to watch more WEC this season myself! Thanks. :)
     
  12. Rob

    Rob
    XBO: OctoberDusk06 Premium Member

    Maybe we can invent a new term? Pinnacle of Innovation. Would that fit the WEC? I think of the ALMS like that.
    It perplexes me what F1 is trying to do actually. Are they trying to push the electric car boundaries? If so, why invent the E Series? With such phenomenal growth from 1997-2012, why did they mess with it so much last year?
     
  13. Nox

    Nox
    Staff Premium Member

    Yeah, I'd go with that. But also the most practical, as these are technologies in WEC that'll make their way down onto road cars. So, yes, innovative works.
     
  14. Chris Hempsall

    Chris Hempsall
    Moderator

    https://www.youtube.com/user/Racing4Everyone

    I like to wait till a day or two after the race and watch on this youtube channel in high quality. It's easy to avoid results till I watch because of the lack of coverage over here.

    IndyCar was definitely my preference over F1 in 2014 (Although both series I feel had less than stellar seasons) But I feel F1 is full of fake people, fake controversies, fake everything but real racing. On the other hand IndyCar has real racers, a better respect for fans, but fake racing.

    I feel the only thing that is holding Indy back are the terrible street circuits and the over-abundance of cautions. I understand that on the street circuits cars get stuck in dangerous places so will have more yellow flags but why are we having cautions when a car goes off on the run off 50 metres away from the track on a road course? It really hit me at Race 4 on the Indy infield last year, Hawthorne was the fastest guy all weekend. He left everyone eating his dust from practice, through qualifying and then took off at the beginning of the race. But he got absolutely screwed by too many un-necessary cautions and finished 7th after leading 31 laps whilst Pagenaud won after leading only 6 (the final 6 after another pointless caution) Thats not racing, thats WWF style entertainment.

    There is no reason to be going to crappy places like Houston and Baltimore when Watkins Glen and COTA are there to be raced on.

    The good thing in Indy though is that drivers are rewarded for feats deserving of points. Qualifying on pole gets points. Leading laps gets points.....I think F1 should explore these avenues.

    But the main difference for me, and why I believe F1 and Indy aren't comparable, are the cars. As Niki Lauda said ''A 5 year old can drive a modern F1 car''
    Give me an IndyCar with lower downforce and more basic mechanics going at top speed around an oval over an F1 car stopping and starting around a soulless TilkeDrome anyday.

    I've said this before to make my point so I'll say it again. A driver never won an F1 championship, it is always the car. And a car has never won an IndyCar (and previous incarnations) championship. It's always the driver.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2015
    • Like Like x 1
  15. Chris Hempsall

    Chris Hempsall
    Moderator

    It was to appease Renault who would have left. However Renault now seems to have changed their minds.

    The only thing preventing change in F1 at the moment are Mercedes. And if I can be frank....Mercedes can shove off. Who made F1 what is is now? Ferrari, McLaren, Williams, Renault, Lotus, Brabham, etc.....Mercedes don't bother for 50 years then come in like they own the place? Yeah right. Why not jump in to the Monaco harbour Mr Wolff, if he thinks Merc should have a say in ANYTHING that goes on in the sport.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  16. Nox

    Nox
    Staff Premium Member

    That's what I say about the TUSCC; so much as a leaf blows on track and they go full course caution, and the FCCs last aaages. I hope that changes soon now that Beaux Barfield has taken over as race director there.

    Thanks for the video link; I usually watch my motor sports the same way as you, as I am over in Cyprus there aren't many options to watch them live. Besides, I think I'll be sleeping when they race IndyCar! Edit: Looks like the video you posted is just YouTube itself; I'll give it a search.

    Also, Baltimore has to be the worst street circuit I have ever seen. Last year of the ALMS they had to throw a full course caution seconds after the start thanks to that stupid chicane on the straight. Ugh... I might give that specific IndyCar race a miss then...
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  17. Chris Hempsall

    Chris Hempsall
    Moderator

    I'm pretty sure Baltimore has been dropped. Houston is my least favourite. St Petersburg sucks as well but it's bearable because of the excitement of it being the first race of the season.
     
  18. The schdeule:

     
    • Like Like x 2
  19. Rob

    Rob
    XBO: OctoberDusk06 Premium Member

    We have to have street circuits in IndyCar, IMO. That's part of the allure and what makes a complete driver. But as to your specific locations, I'd have to say they are less than ideal. There is no reason IndyCar can't showcase a night race around a major U.S. City like Portland or Atlanta. Sort of like Singapore w/o the hoopla. Houston was possibly the most boring and T.V. unfriendly layout I have ever seen, and Baltimore was a deathtrap, but Baltimore at least had charm, in that it was unbelievable. lol. Watkins Glen should be slated in addition to the street courses. They need more races period. They also need to go outside of the U.S. At least once to Europe. Hell, they flew all the way to Japan for years. Long Beach is a cornerstone. Toronto is getting to be. We need one more iconic street circuit at night. I'd love to see them go to London. Or hell, let's have a race around the countryside at Enstone. :roflmao:
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2015
  20. Rob

    Rob
    XBO: OctoberDusk06 Premium Member

    One year in Richmond, my buddies and I were getting out of the car to go see the intros and who comes speeding by on a moped but Helio Castroneves. We all yelled "HELIO!!!!!" and he came over and asked where we were from and talked a bit of bull ring racing at 160mph, then signed some things and was off. Wonder is Lewis Hamilton would do that? Montoya was just as accessible when I had press passes, and so was Hunter-Reay (before he got big...and that's another thing...IndyCar does not throw away good drivers because they have a bad year). His wife, back then, was effing stunning too.
     
    • Like Like x 1