With blistering speeds, screaming engines, photo finishes and historic bottles of milk – the IndyCar series is a motorsport like no other
Iowa Corn 300, July 8, 7pm, BT Sport ESPN/HD (CH 534/530)
When it comes to open-wheel racing, most Europeans would be forgiven for thinking that the glitz, glamour and overall suave of Formula One is the “normal” approach. Our friends across the pond, however, have opted to take a more, well, American approach that we think is every bit as interesting.
Where European engines tend to shriek, whine and (in the hybrid era) occasionally purr their way around a circuit, those found in the States are more prone to bellow, roar and seemingly shake the very fabric of space-time itself. In this world, the celebratory liquid of choice is milk rather than champagne, the tracks are shaped like giant doughnuts, and champions have names like Chuck Stevenson and Buddy Lazier.
So, as the drivers prepare to lap Iowa’s daunting D-shaped speedway a whopping 300 times, here are five reasons why we think you should tune in. Then, when you’re done, grab your comfiest garden chair and the thickest cob of sweet corn you can find, and strap yourself in for a uniquely American feast of blistering speed…
1. The season so far…
If the first half of the season is anything to go by, it’s safe to say that the championship battle is going to be tight – really tight. As New Zealand’s IndyCar veteran Scott Dixon looks to claim a historic fifth title, a glittering chasing pack stacked with former champions will be firmly on his tail. And, as is often the case in IndyCar, fortunes can swing fast, making for a table in which anyone could feasibly be crowned champion.
2. Rule Britannia
After winning the 1916 championship, trendsetter Dario Resta became the first of four Brits to take the IndyCar crown. Dan Wheldon, Dario Franchitti and the gloriously moustachioed Nigel Mansell have since followed suit; with Franchitti’s haul of four championship wins placing him joint second on the all-time greats list, and Mansell’s 1993 triumph making him the first (and to date, only) driver in history to be both IndyCar and Formula One champion at the same time. And with the current field featuring young, up-and-coming Brits such as Max Chilton, Jordan King, Jack Harvey, there’s every chance that this trend will continue in the coming seasons.
3. It’s fiercely competitive
Unlike some motorsports, in which every carbon fibre angle is finely tuned to eradicate thousandths of seconds, IndyCar takes a simpler approach. While teams are free to choose their engine supplier, all must use the same “aero” package. As a result, the fields are tight, with some races coming down to a photo finish – the Chicagoland Speedway circuit in particular producing not one, but two split-second finishes after hours of racing at breakneck speeds.
4. There’s more history than you can shake a tyre at
While some sports fans may have first heard of the IndyCar series after Mansell’s aforementioned championship win, the first officially sanctioned season dates all the way back to 1905. As such, the championship is one of the most (if not the most) historic titles in American motorsports. Also, the winner of the coveted Indianapolis 500 celebrates by pouring a bottle of milk over their hot, sweaty head – part of a longstanding tradition.
5. Street fights and egg-shaped ovals galore
For the drivers, it’s not uncommon to spend one weekend racing through tight and twisting street courses or circuits, and the next with their throttle firmly planted to the floor as they tear around the steep, banked bends of an oval. The variety provides a stern test for the drivers and creates a calendar of nail-biting title fights, with European drivers favouring the shorter, bumpier street courses and circuits, and the Americans excelling on the wide, sweeping, draft-dependant banks of the ovals.
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