Archive for the ‘ INDYCAR ’ Category

Alonso to race in the 2017 Indy 500, but what is the Indy 500? – all explained here for the uninitiated


Hello F1 fans, you’re probably here because you’ve heard the news that Fernando Alonso is missing this year’s Monaco Grand Prix so that he can do the Indy 500. And you’re also here because you’re wondering what all this means, whether it is cool or not, and having established that it is cool, because you want to know exactly how cool.

Let me help. It is very cool.

In this article I will do my best to explain a little bit about the Indy 500, Indycar, and American Open Wheel racing in general, so you can begin to get excited about the Month of May 2017.

Let’s go racing!

What is the Indy 500?

The Indianapolis 500, or Indy 500, is the premier event in american open wheel racing, the flagship event of the Indycar series, and the largest annual sporting event by attendance in the world.

It is run at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Which is not an oval.

Yes it is

No it isn’t, it is a 2.5 mile rectangle with rounded corners. There are four very distinct corners, each presenting its own unique challenge.

OK then, how long has the Indy 500 been going? 

This year will be the 101st Indy 500 race, but the first race was held waaaay back in 1911, by comparison the first Monaco Grand Prix is a relative newcomer, the first race being held in 1929.

Will Alonso score F1 world championship points?

No, but it wasn’t always this way. From 1950 to 1960, points from the Indy 500 counted towards the F1 Drivers Championship.

What’s the Triple Crown of Motorsport?

The Triple Crown is the Monaco Grand Prix, the Indy 500, and the Le Mans 24 Hours. Fernando Alonso wants to win them all one day. It’s his own personal bucket list.

What’s the Quadruple Crown of Motorsport?

Well, it doesn’t exist, and if it did, many people would make a strong case for the 24 Hours of Daytona, but let’s be charitable and point to the Coca Cola 600, a NASCAR race which happens on the same day as the Indy 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix.

The same day?

Yep, and the timing means that you can watch the Monaco Grand Prix, followed by the Indy 500, followed by the Coke 600, if you can stand it.

Can you do Monaco and Indy on the same day?

Not any more, but I think when Concorde was still operating it was theoretically possible.

Can you do the 500 and the 600 on the same day?

Yes, and it’s done quite regularly which gives Indycar some good publicity with Nascar fans. (Nascar being way more popular than Indycar in the US, sadly)

How has this whole thing happened?

Simple. McLaren has Honda engines, Japanese ones. Many Indycars also have Honda Engines, American ones developed by Honda Performance Development. Since Fernando wants to do the Triple Crown, he needs to run Indy. And he isn’t getting any younger so he has to do it while he is still at the top of his game. These cars run 220 MPH and don’t have power steering.

220 MPH? I thought F1 was the fastest form of open wheel racing?

Nope. Although F1 cars are faster through twisty corners and can brake later than anyone, Indycars are the ones with the highest overall top speeds. So an F1 car would easily beat an Indycar around Spa, but the Indycar would leave it for dust at Indy.

What team is Alonso driving for?

He is going to be driving for Andretti Autosport, run by Michael Andretti, as a team mate of Marco Andretti. So, Andretti basically.

I’ve kind of heard of Andretti

Yes, you’re thinking of former F1 and Indycar driver Mario Andretti. Marco’s grandfather and Mario’s dad. He won the 1978 F1 world championship.

Did he drive for McLaren in F1?

Nope, but his son Michael, who is the team owner of Andretti Autosport, did. It was a bit of an ill-fated partnership though.

But McLaren has never raced in Indycar?

Yes it has, they even won the Indy 500 in 1974.

Shame they’re not racing this time

Agree, but as a half way house they are going to sponsor the car, so it will look like a McLaren.

But wait, you still haven’t explained how the whole thing happened

Well, F1 has changed ownership and is now american owned. McLaren has also lost Ron Dennis and now has an American Zac Brown in a senior position. Zac was for a long time expected to become some sort of boss of Indycar. A combination of Zac, Honda, American F1 owners, Andretti and Indycar have made this all happen.

Should we be excited?

I am. Put it this way. Indycar hasn’t been having the best of times over the past 20 years, because it has lacked a Bernie Ecclestone character to pilot it. Whilst the Indy 500 has remained strong, the same can’t be said for the rest of the Indycar season, which suffers from low viewing figures and poor attendance at some races.

Should I watch?

Absolutely, but make sure you do more background reading so you understand what’s going on. The racing is very different in style to F1, but it is no less exciting. The cars are not protoypes, they are pretty much stock vehicles, set up by each team, but don’t underestimate the strategy and the bravery which goes into making an Indy 500 winner.

How can I watch? 

If you’re in the UK, you can watch the F1 on Sky, the Indy 500 on BT Sport, and the Coke 600 on Premier Sports. In the US the F1 is on NBCSN, the Indy 500 on ABC, and the Coke 600 on whatever channel is showing Nascar that week.

Enjoy! I know I will.



Oh bugger – BT Sport snags UK IndyCar rights

Well, as predicted the other week, (and to be fair it didn’t take a genius since their owners were speaking openly about it) it seems ESPN in the UK is no more.

The company and its rights have been sold for an undisclosed sum to BT Sport, the new range of sports channels which will launch this summer.

You may think that BT, whose brand is a relic of nationalised industry, isn’t the most obvious choice of name for a collection of sports channels. And you’d be right. But when relics of nationalised industry do something, they tend to do it in an awkward, lumbering and predictable way, so BT Sport it is. Don’t look at the new logo, it will only upset you.

I could think of several hundred names that would be more exciting than BT Sport. ESPN for one. But hey, don’t let years of sporting brand goodwill hold you back, just bin the name and replace it with a name redolent of phonecards and long waits for a yellow van to visit and fix your phone line.

It reminds me of the old joke about the poor kids at school. The rich kids had their custom kit bags, Chelsea, Man U, Liverpool, Nike, Adidas, Reebok. The poor kids just had a miserable black and white PVC bag from Woolworths. The word emblazoned on the side in sad looking white letters?


But I digress. My main point, IndyCar fans, is this. Half way through the season, god only knows what is going to happen to the IndyCar coverage.

ESPN for UK IndyCar – a more positive perspective

@tfirth392 has pointed out on Twitter that the ESPN deal for IndyCar in the UK could be available on their ESPN Player online streaming service. This might be a better bet, and it’s already doing a good job for the American Le Mans Series.

Personally I hope it will remain on Sky Sports because I am a Sky subscriber. But for those without Sky, it’s possible that an ESPN player solution would actually be better for more people.

We’ll find out in good time I guess….

IndyCar gives UK TV rights to ESPN UK, Disney announces ESPN UK might close – way to go guys!

IndyCar in their wisdom has given UK TV rights to ESPN just as Disney announce they’re closing it! Couldnt make it up! In my last post I highlighted reasons why a hookup with the lame duck that is ESPN UK was a bad idea but it just gets worse, since it seems the owners of ESPN agree!  [See Digital Spy article]

Not sure whether to laugh or cry really!

According to Sky Sports, Indycar is moving to ESPN – for £13 per month – May not be so bad?

UPDATE – I understand since writing this post that ESPN’s UK online streaming service – their ESPN Player might not be such a bad deal – so the tone of this post is a bit more negative than it might need to be!

Oh dear.

The bosses at IndyCar towers probably love ESPN. Compared to the weak support, lukewarm commitment and low ratings provided by NBC Sports Network, the ABC / ESPN co-productions could be considered the stars of their broadcast deals – particularly so in the case of the Indy 500.

But when is ESPN not ESPN? Answer – when it’s in the UK.

ESPN UK is a channel trying to establish relevance – and failing. It has lost major football deals to Sky and BT Vision – and let’s face it, if you’re getting your arse kicked by BT Vision you really can’t be considered a major player in the pay TV sports marketplace.

So the worse its TV rights get, the more ridiculously expensive and unjustifiable a subscription looks.

Worse still, in motorsport terms it is barely even on the radar. You’ll find more motor sports on open access TV than on ESPN. They have the rights to DTM, possibly a bit of drag racing, and NASCAR Now highlights show. Zzzzzz.

The cost for this weak, limp, lifeless collection of dross? £13 a month – yes that’s right.

There aren’t many IndyCar races in a year, somewhere around 15 weekends at best, so you won’t get much for your money.

Even as a huge IndyCar fan I can see it’s better value to sign up for Premier Sports and get wall to wall NASCAR coverage than this lame excuse for a TV package.

So well done IndyCar, if this deal suggested by Sky on their Facebook page turns out to be true you’ve paid the price for not doing your homework about what a weak channel you have signed up to.

UPDATE: It only gets worse. Apparently Disney, ESPN’s parent, is considering closing ESPN UK altogether. Brilliant Indycar, just brilliant!

2013 IndyCar on Sky Sports

So far nothing to report. I hope someone in either Sky Sports or IndyCar reads this post and does something to rectify that.

An Open Letter from Deep Dive Series HQ

I have been asked by a panicky PR officer to write this Open Letter to you the ‘Fans’:

Without a doubt, the last few days have been extremely unpleasant for the community. We have received and heard many passionate opinions from caring fans of this sport, including combinations of curse words which to me seem as inventive as they are impractical, and we appreciate the communication.

While many of the conversations, and indeed the mental images created in my mind’s eye, have been difficult, we must take this opportunity to harness the energy and emotion of this time for the good of the sport we all love, or I swear I’m going to lose the plot by the end of this month so help me God, I mean it, I’m OUT. Before I discuss our commitment to you, the fan – you with your strange clothing, your beer coolers, your passionate disregard for hairstyling fashions, your constant negativity, for a strong series in the future, I want to step back – WAAAY back. Like Tony levels of back.

Last year my daughter kindly bought me a book featuring a character called ‘Dilbert’. He appears to be some kind of dog, but that’s not important because, through the simple medium of cartoons, Dilbert, a Fortune 500 senior executive, and his colorful colleagues, have taught me many serious and valuable lessons about business.

Not least of these was the technique known as a deep dive.

I would like to reveal to you all today the power of the deep dive. A power so awesome that until now it has remained the preserve of a select few high powered business leaders. I believe however that you the fans, you awful, badly dressed, sweaty, sunburnt, beer swilling, burger eating people who file year after year onto my golf course to be hosed down whilst listening to bad hair metal, can use the deep dive technique almost as well as me, given time and patience.

Today, I am in the same position as I was three years ago at this time, as the CEO of this series. But then I was naive and child-like. I knew nothing of the deep dive. We considered and spoke with many potential leaders and ultimately hired a man without even asking him about the way of the deep dive, for we were blind.

There has been, and continues to be, speculation and rumors that the CEO was fired. That is just not true. A mutual separation and an advisory role was accepted last Sunday evening in a special board meeting and deep dive training session.

We sat in a circle, our preconceptions left at the door, our minds open. And we dove. As one in our minds we swam endlessly around the brickyard, free from cares, three, even four wide at times. Then we parted, in silence.

Sure this guy brought us fresh ideas and energizing leadership at a time when it was truly needed, but deep diving, he never really ‘got it’. So we thank him for his contributions. Today, we still face challenges and are moving to address them immediately, but we also have a great opportunity and reason for hope from which we can build.

We are actively executing our 2013 plan that includes new events, an experiment with virtual race weekends to boost the number of ovals on the series in conjunction with our partners at iRacing, the return of the Triple Crown, the introduction of our movie available on DVD this January and at select branches of Circle K.

So, where does all of this put, you, the fan? Quite frankly, in the most important spot of all.

Without you – your eyes watching our races, your social media reminders to your friends as to why you are passionate about our drivers and events, your sarcastic, inventive, and worryingly crude character assassinations and your constant overt and vehement criticism, – we will not succeed.

We watch the racing for the racing. We do not want it to be about off-track politics. You do, but we don’t. OK sure the owners do too. They lap it up. They’re sociopaths, they love this shit.

No question these last 96 hours have been tough on us all, and especially on you, and him – obv. The community must remain together as one unit. And despite our differences, owners, promoters, drivers and the series must communicate as one – even as it slowly tears itself apart before our eyes.

Going forward, together, we will power through this. And with your continued support, we will grow our sport.

Find out more at


The Divemaster