If you have even the most basic motorsport awareness, you’ve probably heard of the “Drive to Survive bump” — the sudden growth of interest in Formula One as a result of the Netflix series. Now, every series from Formula E to MotoGP to IndyCar wants a similar show — but honestly, IndyCar is already doing it better than anybody with Bus Bros.
To put it pretty simply, Bus Bros follows the adventures of Team Penske teammates Scott McLaughlin and Josef Newgarden as the two prepare for the 2022 Indianapolis 500. Each year, drivers take up residence in an RV lot inside the track to avoid local traffic. As you can imagine, that lot turns into a ridiculous mess of pranks and camaraderie. This year, McLaughlin and Newgarden decided to team up and make a weekly show about their shenanigans, and it’s so much better than any self-serious Drive to Survive knockoff that IndyCar could have developed.
During a pre-race interview with Jalopnik, Newgarden said that the Bus Bros series happened “organically,” admitting, “we didn’t know what the idea was going to be, but I think it seemed evident we should do something.”
Newgarden has a long history of goofy PR videos that include everything from trying on scarves with French drivers to running through a corn field to promote the race at Iowa Speedway. “I became a fan of his watching videos of him back when I was in Australia,” McLaughlin told Jalopnik, adding that Bus Bros basically became a more polished version of those old Newgarden hijinks.
According to McLaughlin, the series has also been a great way to break down some of the stereotypes about racing with Team Penske.
“This is an opportunity for people to learn our personalities and not just think that we’re ‘Penske Perfect,’” he said. “At the end of the day, we’ve toned it down, because we got older and more mature, but we’re still the same guys.”
With the growing push to highlight the human drama inherent in any racing series, it’s important to remember that not every series needs the manufactured tension of Drive to Survive. As Newgarden puts it, “Everyone is here to win the race, but there’s a mutual respect amongst everybody.”
F1 drivers, by comparison, “are so used to ripping each other’s heads off. It’s genuinely dog-eat-dog,” McLaughlin added. “Here, we all want to win the race, but there’s an off switch.”
That off switch gives us things like Bus Bros, which is so perfectly reflective of the competitive-but-friendly IndyCar atmosphere. With the growing push for the series to introduce a DTS-style show, it’s important to remember that there’s value in highlighting what makes IndyCar special, rather than trying to force America’s open-wheel series into an F1-shaped mold.