People complain about the lack of passing in Formula One. People complain about how NASCAR drivers only turn left. So what if there was a race series that had a ton of passing and turned left and right? Well, there is. It's called IndyCar, and you need to start watching now.
Yesterday was the Sao Paulo Indy 300, the only race the series runs in South America. Not only did it play to a packed house, but the last 10 laps were probably some of the most exciting racing you'll ever see.
IndyCar has been around for ages, and at one time it was the most popular race series in the country, with the Indy 500 being the most prestigious race in the world. It reached a global peak in 1993, when reigning Formula One champion Nigel Mansell took his talents to America and ran IndyCar.
Then the downhill spiral started. Pride and greed split the series in two, creating a rivalry that was confusing and drove away the fans. The Indy 500 was full of amateurs and the stars couldn't race at Indy. They came back together in 2008, but the series was a shadow of its former self, with low TV ratings and many races that appear to have more people working at the track than actual fans.
It still hasn't clawed its way back either.
Politics and personnel changes have overshadowed the racing in recent years. That's too bad, because the on-track product is stellar. The end of yesterday's race in Sao Paulo exemplified that.
Before you say it, no, the technology cannot match F1. Some of the racers are F1 castoffs or pay drivers that would never be F1 quality. The cars are ugly. They aren't as fast as you want them to be. The behind-the-scenes politics are infuriating.
The final lap of the race had an entire year's worth of on track F1 action. The entire top five changed within the 11 corner course. NBC even put Takuma Sato up as the winner in the graphic as they rounded the final turn, just as he was being passed for the lead by James Hinchcliffe on the FINAL TURN OF THE FINAL LAP. It's edge of your seat stuff for an entire race. I find it rare I'm like that during an F1 or NASCAR race for the entire two hours (or in NASCAR's case, 17 hours).
When's the last time you watched an F1 race and didn't know who was going to win until they actually crossed the line? I can't remember.
The entire race is run like a short sprint. Barely any thought was given to saving fuel. It was total flat-out craziness. There was wheel-to-wheel action in every part of the field on nearly every lap. If you don't find this exciting then I don't know what to tell you. It must mean you're the type of person that finds PCP to be relaxing.
Race control recognized racing and didn't give any stupid blocking penalties or avoidable contact penalties. In a land that is usually full of penalties, seeing actual racing was a refreshing and welcome change. There were no stupid cautions for "debris," which was actually a solo cup in the stands that needed more Natty Light in it.
It was the most exciting race I've watched this year. Check out the highlights below:
Other than the on track action, the drivers don't seem to have a 'holier than thou' attitude like they're too good for the fans. They're as accessible (bar a few drivers) as you would ever think. Plus they have Simona de Silvestro, the badass Swiss miss who is one of the toughest drivers on any grid. There's also yesterday's race winner, James Hinchcliffe, who just seems like a fun, cool dude you'd wanna hang out with.
The drivers also aren't poor sports. Sato led for half the race and was passed literally feet before the finish line. He didn't whine, he wasn't upset. Instead, he congratulated Hinch on his second win of the season and complimented the racing. There was no bull about being blocked.
Hinch didn't complain about being blocked on the back straight, probably because he would've done the same thing in that position.
Basically, IndyCar combines what you love about F1 (fast cars turning left and right) with what you love about NASCAR (lots of passing) and gets rid of the bullshit. Yes, I am an IndyCar fan, but this season has massively impressed me thus far.
That's why I can't wait for the Indy 500 later this month. You can't either. Trust me.