[Editor's Note: Yes IndyCar puts on some great racing, but because they insist on showing the majority of their races on NBC Sports Network instead of ABC network TV, hardly anyone even knows the series exists. This has resulted in a shrinking fan base. The IndyCar brass do like receiving that hefty check from NBCSN, which helps fund the Leader Card welfare program. Welfare breeds mediocrity and half a field of ride-buyers. Put all the races on ABC, with a guaranteed 1 million+ viewers per race and the teams will begin to attract sponsors and they won't need the welfare money and they won't need to rely on ride-buyers to stay afloat. Makes too much sense, therefore, IndyCar will never do it.]
While other sports grabs the national spotlight, a race series is going on with just as exciting and thrilling competition. It showcases some of the best drivers in the world, racing at death-defying speeds around tracks all over North America, complete with adoring fans roaring with delight every time their favorite driver passes by. Kids clamor to get their idol's autograph. Loyal viewers tune in on TV every weekend. And races around the nation are seeing a resurgence in attendance.
No I am not talking about NASCAR. This is the Verizon IndyCar Series!
"But IndyCar viewership is way below that of NASCAR," you say. Of course it is. NASCAR is the biggest spectator sport in America. That would be like saying the NHL Finals have a lower worldwide audience than the World Cup. While true, you can't exactly compare the two. IndyCar is a completely different animal than NASCAR. The sad part is the lack of media coverage and the attention that is not paid to the series is a great disservice to the quality of the product on track.
I myself have been to four IndyCar Series races so far this season, and am slated to see at least two more, including the season finale in Sonoma, California. I can tell you with certainty that the series has never been better.
Even after the IRL and CART merger several years ago, people complained about a lack of competitive diversity. With the exception of the occasional win from an Andretti Racing driver, Penske Racing and Chip Ganassi Racing were the dominant teams. Full seasons would pass where the only winners were drivers from those teams. Not to take away anything from the accomplishments of Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves, Dario Franchitti, and others, but it made for extremely predictable racing.
Now, times have changed.
Through ten races this season, seven different drivers have captured the checkered flag, including two first time winners in Josef Newgarden and Carlos Munoz.
|IndyCar puts on some of the best racing, buts it's invisible to the public 11 of 12 months a year|
Will Power, Juan Pablo Montoya, Scott Dixon, Sebastian Bourdais, and James Hinchcliffe have won the other events this season. The other impressive part of the track is the wide diversity of the track's schedule. The season started off on the streets of downtown St. Petersburg, Florida, moved to a brand-new course in New Orleans, traversed the historic streets of Long Beach, California, tackled the undulating hills of Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama, took to the road course at Indianapolis before the famed Indy 500, dueled at Belle Isle in Detroit, sped down the high banks of Texas Motor Speedway, and most recently filed through the narrow streets of Toronto.
Trips to Fontana, California, Milwaukee, Iowa, Mid-Ohio, Pocono, and Sonoma highlight the remainder of the season, offering up a mix of short tracks, speedways, and road courses for the fans to watch.
"Why should I watch these guys race? It is way too dangerous," says you? I say embrace the thrill of danger. That is part of the allure of racing after all. Drivers risking their lives in competition to see which man or woman is the best driver on the track.
"But don't all the cars look the same?" In fact, this is something the series has taken great lengths to change. The introduction of new aero kits for both Honda and Chevrolet this season gives each manufacturer a distinct difference in look while on track.
Are you looking for a change in the sports balance in your life? Look no further than IndyCar I say. You surely won't be disappointed.
Now, if only we can figure out how to get them to come back to Homestead-Miami Speedway… Chris Green/Miami Dade Newsleader