Posts Tagged ‘ indycar ’

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.



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.

Joy begets joy – a great IndyCar article!

Here is a fantastic article about the joys of IndyCar from Will Buxton. Read, enjoy, understand 🙂

Thoughts on the 2012 Indy 500 – replay 8PM this Wednesday on Sky Sports F1

Well the 2012 Indy 500 has been and gone, and what a race!

There was a lot of pressure to perform. The first oval race for the new DW12 cars and the new Honda, Lotus and Chevrolet engines was the flagship 500 mile 200 lap ‘Greatest Spectacle in Racing’ and what the series did not need was a lucklustre race dominated by poor handling, poor speed and poor reliability.

As it turns out they needn’t have worried! The race was fantastic.

Run in sweltering heat, we broke the all time record for number of lead changes, and we saw exciting passing through the pack. Reliability was surprisingly good and the attrition rate wasn’t much worse than usual.

Sure race director Beaux Barfield had to park the two lotuses early after they failed to make the 105% pace, but at least we had 33 starters and three manufacturers lining up.

The cars, without push to pass, didn’t need push to pass, as passing moves came thick and fast from the first lap.

Fuel mileage and top speed variances between the different engine manufacturers kept the strategy fascinating, and although Honda had clearly upped their game since qualifying, the results show a good mix of Honda and Chevy at the sharp end.

I don’t want to give away spoilers so I will leave it to Speed to give the full race report, but believe me when I say it was brilliant!! Curt Cavin has also written a race report for, and I have to tip my hat to Curt for his tip to back Sato for the race. I got odds of 66:1 via Sky Bet.

Keith Heuwen and the team in the UK provided a great UK-focused addition to the ABC coverage, with plenty of Twitter interaction via the new @skyindycar feed to fill the gaps in the ABC commentary. The race went out on Sky Sports 4 HD. If you don’t have Sky Sports 4 but can get Sky Sports F1, you can see the re-run in full this Wednesday at 8pm. I recommend that you do!

I hear dark mutterings that Roger Penske is in dispute with series boss Randy Bernard over engine parity and fines issued over the month of May. I hope this can be resolved without any further calls for Randy to be replaced because I think this weekend proves he is doing a great job in less than ideal circumstances. If anything Mr Penske’s attitude this month shows the futility of hoping for a series run by the teams for the teams. They will quite simply never be able to agree when it comes to decisions that harm one team and benefits another.

Let’s end on a happy note which Team Penske may like to reflect on: The Indy 500 is run on the same day as the Monaco Grand Prix and the Coke 600 NASCAR race. This year’s 500 was easily the most exciting of the three races, and that can only be good for the series. Next year we get aerokits, a bigger field providing true ‘will they make the race’ action on bump day, push to pass, a hope (plea!?) that Lotus will have found some pace – and all building on a strong foundation of a great 2012.

It’s been a long time since the future looked this good for IndyCar.

Mokpo vs Vegas – A Tale of Two Races

This weekend is a busy one for open wheel racing. Just a week after the F1 world championship was decided in Japan, the F1 circus moves to Mokpo, South Korea for the second Korean Grand Prix.

Also this weekend, IndyCar is hosting its season finale and championship decider at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

This Vegas event is being lauded as one of the most heavily promoted races in recent US motorsports history. It’s creating a modest amount of buzz for a series that was dead in the water a couple of years back.

We’ve heard a lot about Las Vegas $5m challenge – designed to attract series outsiders (ideally someone from NASCAR) to try for a win against series regulars. That plan didn’t quite pan out but we still have something similar involving Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon for the press to write about.

There are also multiple events in and around Vegas in the build up to the race. Considering the fact that IndyCar is still in its rebuilding phase this is a great job well done by series boss Randy Bernard.

It’s all the more impressive because all the showmanship represents a pretty stark contrast to the unrelentingly depressing Korean round of the F1 championship – a contrast that is worth pondering for a few minutes. IndyCar also have the luxury of the fact the the championship is still undecided – if only F1 still had that!

The Korean round of the series has every ingredient of ‘bad F1’ writ large:

It’s remote – on reclaimed land in a distant and industrial outpost of South Korea that even most Koreans care little for.

It’s vaguely pointless – the circuit is purpose-built in the middle of mudflats, which should by now be a thriving little city of enterprise and excitement – but of course it’s not – it’s just a sort of barren cathedral to the folly of trusting Bernie Ecclestone’s sales pitch.

All in all this pointless ‘event by the numbers’ is uninspiring to fans, journalists and teams alike.

I’d like Bernie to consider introducing a ‘What if every round was like xxxxx’ test when considering new races. Because if every round was like Korea – F1 would be dead.

On the other hand for IndyCar – if every round was like Vegas, they’d be speeding up the comeback trail.

Good luck to them!

Ferrari to INDYCAR, INDYCAR to Melbourne, F1 to Watkins Glenn

Ahh, the silly season.

One story that has given me more enjoyment this weekend than the Valencia Grand Prix, was the story that the venue promoters are uniting in opposition to the F1 Commission over engine revs. They are even threatening to move their events to INDYCAR.

I for one think this is an excellent idea. INDYCAR has sensible sanctioning fees built on the basic premise that promoters should be able to make money from putting on races. Contrast this with the F1 approach, which seems to necessitate government funding or bankruptcy and bailout.

I could actually see Melbourne switching to INDYCAR, particularly given the number of australian drivers gracing the series. Once Mark Webber departs the scene an INDYCAR / V8s double header is the logical way to go.

So which other races could make the switch? Austin, for one. Then there’s Sao Paulo which could alternate between Interlagos and their street circuit. Again, Brazil has its eyes just as firmly on drivers in INDYCAR as in F1.

Canada is trickier, as it already has more than enough races, although the Circuit Giles Villeneuve has been visited by American Open Wheel over the years.

So bring it on, get Ferrari into a red painted INDYCAR, and let’s go racing boys.

After all, it’s only a matter of time before Lewis moves to NASCAR. Isn’t it?

Indy 500 After Bump Day, comes Bump Day, ‘just business’ says Hunter-Reay

I feel kind of sorry for Ryan Hunter Reay. The weather and setup troubles saw him out of the 2011 Indy 500 starting lineup. With no time for a final attempt at bumping his way in, he stayed out and by the end of Bump Day, was having to cope with the reality of failing to qualify his car.

I say ‘failing to qualify his car’ because in the world of the Indy 500 it’s the car, not the driver, that qualifies. Why? I have no idea.

So what did Ryan’s enterprising sponsors and Andretti team do? They looked up and down pit road to find a ride for Ryan to buy into. They found one, with AJ Foyt driver Bruno Junqueira being told to move aside as he did a few years back. It’s not new, it’s not particularly clever (the car drops from 19th spot to the back of the grid), and it’s NOT going down too well in the world of Twitter.

Hunter Reay himself is at pains to point out that it’s a “110% team / business decision”. Doesn’t sound like good business, good business would be putting the sponsor logos on the Foyt car and letting Bruno drive from 19th, with Hunter Reay on the pitwall basking in the admiration of the TV crews.

So, if you want to make your opinion known, apparently all you can do is boycott DHL International and Sun Drop citrus soda. Not too tricky for me as I don’t use either.

But don’t take it out on Ryan, he’s just doin’ his job.