Debate: Monaco Grand Prix vs Indy 500

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Indianapolis 500, 2006, startBoth have been hailed as the greatest race in the world – and both take place this Sunday.

Each has a long and proud history and have been won by the greats of motor racing.

But with American open wheel motor racing in a terrible state, does the Monaco Grand Prix outstrip the Indianapolis 500 as a sporting occasion?

The last ‘proper’ Indy 500 was held in 1995 before the CART-IRL split ruined open-wheel racing in America.

The 33 cars that line up for Sunday’s Indy 500 will once again be entirely drawn from the Indy Racing League. It will be missing the top Champ Car drivers not to mention former open wheel stars such as AJ Allmendinger that have defected to NASCAR.

Fernando Alonso, Renault, Monte-Carlo, 2006The Monaco Grand Prix remains the most glamorous and desirable race on the F1 calendar. Can it now claim to be a greater race than the Indy 500?

Which will you be watching?

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Tags: f1 / formula one / formula 1 / grand prix / motor sport

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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14 comments on “Debate: Monaco Grand Prix vs Indy 500”

  1. It is no contest – Monaco every time, although it might be useless for overtaking it is the one race which is guaranteed to be a spectacle. At Indy there’s either a big incident or none and who wants to see huge incidents (rhetorical).

  2. Richard C. is correct, it is no contest – INDY every time.
    While the world is going goo-goo gaa-gaa over rookie Hamilton in F1 may I remind all that rookie Marco Andretti very nearly won the INDY 500 on his first try, being pipped at the finish at 1/2 car length. And big smashes…… Monaco holds a place in that record! Spectacle?
    400,000 in the stands, 250 mph, 33 cars …. most competitive not just a 3 or 4 car parade common in F1. Monaco is fine but INDY is the greater SPECTACLE.

  3. I’m a little surprised that Number 38 would choose Indy. The Indy 500 was my introduction to -real- single-seat racing, (some may recall, I was “introduced” to Formula 1 by videogaming) and in fact, I used to think the oval races were better than the road races, until I learned more about what goes into both.

    Rusty fences, blank liveries, phony pre-paid media attention, and the ChampCar schism turn me off when it comes to Indy, but I’ll keep an eye on it anyway.

    The fact is, ChampCar had the same month off that IRL did and all those teams could have entered cars into the Indy 500, but they chose not to do so. Money is a big subject in the schism (ChampCar teams do not want to have to buy an extra car just to run ovals, so they did away with ovals) but more telling is that larger names that clearly -can- enter the Indy 500 won’t. Therefore, the spectacle Indianapolis Motor Speedway once was is Tony George’s pretense now, and that’s a crying shame. Marco Andretti wasn’t the only close finish in its history, and he likely won’t be the last if Indy doesn’t run itself into the ground, so at the same time, think of what you’re missing out on if it was gone…

  4. Hi chunter,
    I’m afraid Richard C. and I got the question wrong. We blathered on about “spectecle” and the question was: “Which will you be watching?” I’m lucky, I get the Monaco GP at 0800 Sunday and the Indy 500 at 1200 and to answer the question I’ll watch BOTH !!!
    And I’ll bet I’ll be treated to something NASCAR before the day is over! No “one track mind” here, I follow RACING !

  5. Nathan Jones
    25th May 2007, 8:35

    champcar drivers dont enter indy 50 because of injury!
    look at bruno junquiera a couple of years ago!
    was in title battle then out for season after indy.
    they have nothing to gain and everything to lose!
    if those 2 series merged we would have the glory days of champcar back! until then i wont watch either!
    champcar is not even shown in oz this year! even tho there is an aussie winning!

  6. I’ll also be watching both races.

    I don’t think you could say either one is THE race. They’re both THE race in their respective categories. After all, we can’t compare Le Mans or the Daytona 500 to these two, can we?

  7. I see Dan Wheldon in The Independent today casts his vote for the Indy 500… but he would, wouldn’t he?

    “Winning at Monaco would be great, but it’s nothing next to the Indy 500” –

  8. Robert McKay
    25th May 2007, 14:26

    The one time I watched the Indy 500, two drivers slipstreamed each other with ease every single straight. Back and forth they went. Oval driving might require a different skill set to road racing, but passing was almost impossible NOT to acheive. This alternation of the lead went on for 190-odd laps. Every time they pulled away from the chasing pack, someone hit a wall and full course yellows brough everyone back together. This happened about 5 laps from the finish, effectively rendering the entire marathon race a sprint for the line.

    Honestly, it wasn’t really a spectacle in my eyes. Sure there’s a lot of fans, but it’s an oval built to hold a lot of fans. Sure there’s lots of overtaking, but very little of it actually EARNED like in road racing. Add in the political schism and I don’t really see how there’s even a contest: Monaco wins by a mile. But I understand how to IRL fans, 22 cars stuck behind each other on a tiny narrow little circuit might seem as depressing to them as the Indy 500 seems to me.

  9. I’ll be watching both Monte Carlo and The Indianapolis 500. In California the timing is right and I can record them on my DVR in any case.

    Monte Carlo is so very exciting – I have been following it since the 50’s When many of the historic names competed.

    The 500 is a sentimental favorite with my family and I cannot bring myself to miss it, even though it is the only non-F1 race I watch.

  10. I’m with Number 38 and Paul… I can watch both, so I’ll watch both. Racing has different disciplines, and each has its own good stuff and bad stuff.

    But if I’ll only pick one? I’ll take F1 any day of the week. If we think F1 is losing its soul, IRL and the Indy 500 lost it a long time ago.

  11. Number 38 has another good point. I have to work that way, but from the magic of TiVo I’ll watch all the races eventually.

    Anyone still bummed about the ChampIRL schism might find the second half of this interesting:

  12. Indy 500 is about as difficult as driving a bumpercar at the county fair. No talent, no skill, it’s all about driving around in a big circle. Driving IndyCars on ovals is about as idiotic an idea as it gets. Again, NO talent required. Push down gas. Just like Nascar. The first time you find a real race course, half the field crashes out because they can’t comprehend anything other than an oval.

  13. Does any one remember in the 70’s of a driver coming to the end of the race and couldn’t take it and drove to the lake in the center of the tract and jumped into the because he was over heating ??

  14. I will be watching both from Dubai. It is a shame that Formula One pulled out of Indianapolis. Though there are a lot of great racing venues around the world, one being here in Abu Dhabi, the true racing capital of the world is Indianapolis. Indy gave the Formula One the largest paid admission in the world. Indy has the largest paid audience comparing the two. Formula One has the largest purse for the winner. Both have a lot of class and both offer the racing fan the best in racing entertainment.

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