Pato O'Ward, McLaren, IndyCar, Portland, 2023

IndyCar needs F1-style push for “massive gains” in viewers – O’Ward


Posted on

| Written by

IndyCar star Pato O’Ward believes the series is under-selling itself and needs a more aggressive approach to win over new fans.

While Formula 1 has enjoyed a boom in popularity in the USA in recent years, America’s leading single-seater continues to see only modest growth. O’Ward says the quality of racing in the championship is excellent, but it cannot rely on that alone to draw new viewers in when there is so much competition for attention.

“The way that things grow nowadays is completely different to what it was 30 years ago,” said O’Ward this month. “I wasn’t alive 30 years ago, but I have heard a lot from my grandparents, my parents, I have seen what it’s like just what 10 years have done and has shifted in the markets of a lot of products and a lot of different things.

“Having a good product, yes, that is important. But ultimately what you need is you want people to be present. You want people to be a part of something that’s just not race cars going around.

“I think we as a series are a perfect example of that because the racing is unbelievable, the racing is so good, but there is something missing that we have yet quite to crack.”

Formula 1’s Netflix series Drive to Survive has been credited with bringing new viewers to the series, especially in the US. It has built on that growth by adding heavily-promoted new races in two major cities, Miami and Las Vegas, bringing the total number of grands prix in the USA up to three.

However F1 has also made some changes which have proved divisive among fans, such as introducing sprint races at some events.

O’Ward says IndyCar cannot simply copy the examples of other championships and expect to succeed, but it needs to look at what they have done.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

“There’s a lot of examples that are going around in motorsports that have shown growth,” he said. “It’s basically not a plug-and-play because every series is different. But you see how other series grow and I think the most simple way would be to see what is working for them, what is causing that to happen.”

He also believed IndyCar needs to be much more ambitious about its growth targets. “We have the potential to be [multiplying by] two or three, not growing five or 10% a year like we are. We’re selling ourselves short by just wanting to grow incrementally like that.

“I think we really have the potential to see massive gains. But just like in a lot of things, you obviously have to fuel it if you want to see some of that double, triple, quadruple.”

IndyCar needs to be prepared to make changes some may dislike, he added. “When you’re speaking of growth, change will usually kind of rattle people’s floor. It’ll kind of move things around.

“Some people will like it, some people won’t like it. But when you don’t evolve and when you don’t change, you sure as hell will not grow. And the only way to doing that is to change things up.”

“I know I’m just a voice, some people agree with me, some people don’t agree with me,” he added. “I believe that Arrow McLaren, as a group, we are on the [side] of definitely turbocharging it a bit and just taking more of an aggressive approach, but which has been proven to work.

“I try and do my best to help and to bring new audiences and new people to the series, because I feel like once people see and watch it, they’re going to want to stick around. The problem is you need to get it in front of as many eyes as you can.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free


Browse all IndyCar articles

Author information

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

39 comments on “IndyCar needs F1-style push for “massive gains” in viewers – O’Ward”

  1. IndyCar is spec-chassis which limits the audience potential quite significantly, which people are scared to admit for some reason. The potential isn’t as high as O’Ward seems to think it is. The core tenet of my argument is thus: Close racing ≠ good racing. This often gets confused.

    Good, while subjective I know, requires stakes. This is basic narrative stuff that is present in all forms of story based entertainment. As an entertainment proposition IndyCar offers a tenth what F1 does. Close racing is not in short supply. it can be found anywhere on the planet. High stakes racing is incredibly rare. F1 naturally dominates this position because you have 10 individually built teams each spending nearly hundreds of millions of pounds. Behind that is thousands of engineers and designers. IndyCar on the other hand is basically very fast club racing. The only high-stakes elements really is the Indy500, which is based upon 100 years of heritage where there used to be fierce competition between chassis builders. Competition which still generates interest and intrigue years later.

    F1’s engineering aspect generates enormous numbers on various platforms. Just look at any fairly large F1 Youtube channel and most of the content will be tinged with some technical aspect. It is this which drivers the sport forward. A team nailing the regulations creates streams and streams of content, analysis and speculation. The ‘mystery’ is half the fun. You can spend hours researching double diffusers, F-Ducts, or mass-dampers.

    And any subsequent domination by a single-driver also can create a David & Goliath narrative. Again, high-stakes stuff. It also allows for fans to genuinely support a driver finishing 10th and validly feeling like they had a great drive, and possibly was the driver of the day. It’s a weird aspect to F1 no one seems to appreciate. In any given race you might have 1 winner, but you can have 10 drivers who performed at the highest level. This drives a LOT of discussion online. All this adds to the cultural weight of F1. Cultural weight adds to the ‘stakes’.

    It’s extremely difficult to be immersed in IndyCar. It’s a spec-competition (well, visually at least). Because of this it’ll not get F1 levels of growth and interest. If you can’t immerse yourself in IndyCar, how can one expect it to generate huge audiences? We have F1 launch season coming up. It will generate vast amounts of coverage. IndyCar doesn’t. Another win for adding cultural weight and significance.

    F1 isn’t perfect, I think in many respects it is making some errors, but at base level I think IndyCar’s ‘close racing’ is secondary to the fact it’s relatively low-stakes. That’s the core issue to solve.

    1. The technical aspect is way overstated; the technical videos on F1’s own channel usually rank among the bottom of the weekend in terms of views. Even after 10 years, I’m confident that the vast majority of F1 viewers can’t explain how the MGU-H works, why it’s a benefit, and why it doesn’t translate well to road cars.

      What F1 has that other series don’t (aside from the big historic races) is the story, the myth. It makes everything happening interesting. Test sessions. Name changes. Driver swaps. Some random snarky comment from a team boss. This has nothing to do with the racing. But F1 is essentially a soap opera where the race weekends are there to reinvigorate or pivot certain storylines. We’re here in the middle of January talking about F1, about some random sponsor being included in a team name, or a circuit that hasn’t even been built and won’t be for years. Why? Because it’s part of the story.

      1. The technical aspect drives the narrative, and your second paragraph only serves to prove my point. F1 ghas the story and the ‘myth’ because of the technical aspect. It’s an integral and vital part of it. It’s what creates the ‘stakes’ that everything else is built on top of.

        Your comment about MGU-K and applying to road-cars is not what I am talking about. I am talking about the ‘competition’, not some contrived ‘road-relevance’ aspect to F1 tech which gets pushed every now and again and doesn’t really add to the ‘stakes’. It’s the function of competition within a proscribed set of technical regulations that lays down the foundations of sporting competition that is creates the strong narrative and high-stakes required for a motorsport to be commercially successful at the level F1 is. MotoGP is exactly the same.

        Test sessions are interesting because you get to compare relative car performance. The reason that is interesting is because they aren’t all differently coloured Dallaras. Why do we have team bosses that people care about? Because they are in charge of hundreds of people. They have to make vital decisions that impact performance of the car.

        Also, technical based videos do exceptionally well on Youtube. Merc’s last two years of engineering failure (relatively speaking) has been an enormous generator of interest. I can go down a ton of avenues with this. The nature of the competition in F1 is what creates the stakes. People don’t want ‘close racing’ they want ‘high-stakes’ racing. Close racing can be found anywhere.

        1. The myth and interest is largely driven by the enormous weight of F1’s history, and more specifically, the excellent TV product Ecclestone and his associates created. As is mentioned elsewhere as a con for Indycar; Ecclestone knew that it’s much better to have only championship-races, to have the same teams in each race, and the same drivers. That’s how you build a narrative throughout the season that everyone can follow, and create cast of characters that’s not too large (as in sportscars) or too changeable (as in many other series). That wasn’t always how F1 was, but that’s what it became by about 1980. In many countries, F1 successfully monopolized high level single seater racing. To this day there are many ‘F1 fans’ who watch not a single bit of other motorsport. F1 still has a lot of that momentum.

          The MGU-H (rather than MGU-K) is probably the only real technological innovation F1 has seen since the mid 2000s when it backtracked on a lot of the reintroduced ‘driving aids’, or maybe even since the early 1990s when it banned the active suspension. And the MGU-H really is impressive, but… who cares? Even with their 1.3 million subscribers, the Mercedes team couldn’t attract more than 70k viewers to their (well done) 2022 video about said component. And it’s one of the very few uncapped pieces of the power unit so its at the very forefront of the development race! But despite all that, people just don’t get excited about turbines, turbos, thermal efficiencies or charging-strategies for the on-board batteries.

          The Tech Talk videos F1 itself puts out every race weekend constantly struggle for attention relative the other videos; in most cases they’re stuck around 300k views in between the pre-race chit chat and the Thursday walk around the paddock. People might want to know if some team will do better at the race than they did previously, but the technical details of that are largely or even entirely irrelevant. They just want to know if Norris can win, not how many millimeters the latest McLaren front wing has added to the endplate – or something arcane like that.

          Indycar can still learn a lot from F1, but it doesn’t have to become a super-expensive version of itself to do so. Streamlining the calendar and straightening out the teams can go a long way; it’s just a bit of a mess with 30+ drivers in 17 different teams, which aren’t really different teams at all, some of which have two cars, or three, or four, or even five if you include the single-race entries for the Indy 500. And those that do race in every event change their entire colour scheme a few times. That might all be part of Indycar history, but that history brought them here – to a near deserted Laguna Seca for the 2022 title decider. O’Ward is right that everything needs to be open for discussion – even if there’s definitely a lot worth keeping.

    2. All really good points. F1 and Indycar are fundamentally different, and the latter should look elsewhere for inspiration on how to grow.

      I think Pato is falling into Executive Speak here, when he wants to multiply viewing/engagement rates, rather than “modest” growth, as if that’s a bad thing. If we’re concerned here about F1 losing its relatively new fans, with the concerning trends in recent years, then Indycar would do well not to fall into the same potential trap.

      1. IndyCar isn’t fundamentally different. It was closer enough to F1 in the early 90s to cause issues for Bernie. I know why they’ve gone the route they have because to a large extent they have no choice. But that choice limits growth potential enormously.

    3. Alan, I disagree with almost everything you said.

      “IndyCar is spec-chassis which limits the audience potential quite significantly,”
      – This is absolute nonsense. This is just brainwashing Formula 1 fans do to themselves, because the popularity of F1 depends on the rivalry between different manufacturers and that’s how it had formulated itself. But that’s only 1 blueprint for a motorsport!
      I used to be a huge fan of Motocross in the 90s. I had no idea whatsoever what motorcycle anybody rode and all motorcycles looked exactly the same, even the liveries were completely unrecognizable between different bikes. The machinery wasn’t at all a topic of conversation, it wasn’t part of the rivalry. This topic simply did not exist and I couldn’t care less if everybody rode a Honda or whatever else. See?

      Here you also make a terrible assumption that every motorsport is and has to be understood and appreciated through the lense of F1. Nonsense. Alan, you can be an IndyCar fan not knowing anything about F1 (which was true for millions of North American fans in the last 50 years).

      Then, you also make very wrong assumptions about the “David & Goliath narrative”s.
      You ascribe the popularity of F1 to the fact that such narratives are known. Wrong. Those narratives are known BECAUSE F1 is popular. The more popular a sport is, the more broadly the fans explore it and the deeper their interests reach.

      If you’re not a fan of athletics, you will watch an Olympic 100m sprint final as “Usain Bolt against some 7 other no-name guys”. But if you’re a fan, you know all the other sprinters and all other narratives that take place. Simple as that.
      Oh, and the ‘stakes’ are determined by interest – high stakes are simply any stakes that people care about.

      But the thing you mostly got right (although you used some flawed arguments) – is that IndyCar fails at creating narratives. The narratives are there, they always are, but they remain unknown. Obviously the more there are the better and this is were the sport can help itself. You watch a fantastic IndyCar race on Sunday, but on Monday, other then recalling the race, there are no new topics to discuss.
      The official Indycar YouTube channel is basically void of any meaningful content for what’s currently happening. It doesn’t make any buildups to races – I regularly learn that there has already been a qualifying session without even knowing that there is a Grand Prix weekend. The drivers and their stories are not promoted and developed. Almost no team personalities are known beyond the team owners. IndyCar’s marketing is a terrible failure. I could go on an on listing those failures. Basically, it’s hard to follow a sport where there is little to follow. You just watch fantastic races and that’s it.

      And yes, having more technical development/novelties would make for great conversation topics, but IndyCar doesn’t need to be a non-spec series to do that! All it would take is to have a brand new chassis for each season. That’s it.

      IndyCar had that wonderful tech insight series called “IndyCar 101 with Professor B” in YouTube:
      This was better than anything actual F1 teams could present. But you can’t talk about the same car for a decade, can you?

      1. I know my motocross, and I am not sure what you mean. There is absolutely tribalism within Motocross, historically and contemporarily. Ducati and Triumph’s entry into the sport has been very exciting too in the last year. Them being there building bikes makes the racing more valuable. Tomac’s move to Yamaha recently was a big deal. There’s a ton of technical intrigue that fuels the high-stakes.

        I don’t ride myself, but am engrossed in motocross. Here’s where people make errors in terms of the perception of what is happening. You watch motocross, no doubt because you felt there were some stakes to the competition. Those stakes where there because you had motorcycle companies going to war. If it was a spec competition you most likely wouldn’t have known about it. It’s why I suspect you don’t watch the Rotax Grand Finals, which is arguably the most participated motorsport event in the world if we include all those who attempt to qualify for it. It legitimately is probably the most competitive form of competition for drivers alone. If you aren’t aware of it and know this year’s winners, it only serves my point.

        I can talk from a professional perspective on this as well because I’ve owned media platforms. Karting, a sport that largely wasn’t spec that turned largely to spec (mainly on engine front) in terms of competitors has seen an enormous reduction in media outlets and exposure. In the UK we now have zero major karting media outlets. It’s not 1:1 to F1 and IndyCar (as these rely more on spectator to generate revenue), but from the perspective of generating interest and intrigue spec racing is poison. It kills 90% of content and with that a drop in sustainability and growth potential.

        The comment about IndyCar fan without knowing about F1 I don’t understand. IndyCar was not always a spec-chassis. That’s a relatively recent thing. I enjoy reading about IndyCar, specifically Newey’s involvement in chassis design. It’s old model was better for audience potential than the modern one. The narratives are there in IndyCar, but they are weak because of IndyCar’s current technical sporting structure.

        I think IndyCar actually does quite well. I just admit that its potential to grow, especially with F1 in town is limited. My arguments aren’t flawed. I suspect most in this media game know it because the stats do not lie.

    4. While I think your right about the spec-chassis nature of the series.
      But I feel its less about the technical details and differences, and more about the names.

      As much as I don’t like FOM’s exclusive desire for manufactures over privateer teams, I can’t deny that F1 being able to say “This is where industry names such as Ferrari, Mercedes, Aston Martin, Honda, Renault, (and in the future; Audi, Ford, GM*******) battle it out on track!” is a draw for many.

      1. Those names aren’t in F1 without the possibility of technical differences. You don’t get one without the other. It’s the sporting technical structure that feeds everything else which then snowballs.

        1. Audi, Ford and GM only joined F1 when it took away that possibility, because they were all afraid of looking as incompetent as Honda did in 2015.

          Similar to how in DPi in IMSA or now in LMH/LMDh, manufacturers are flocking to a series where they can put their name on something when they know it’ll be made competitive behind the scenes via a BoP scheme. To them it’s just marketing. Not a single one of them wanted to participate in the much more open LMP1 series when they could make pretty much whichever car they wanted… at the risk of failing, like Aston Martin did to an almost comical extent with the disastrous AMR-One.

          1. That’s a future direction F1 is taking which I do not agree with. Honda’s bad start made their success sweeter and more profound int he end. Often lessons aren’t learnt. I am not an F1 evangelical. I think they are making errors.

            I just recognise that there are clear elements to IndyCar that will limit its growth and why trying to emulate F1 on the periphery marketing techniques won’t do much for them.

          2. Honda’s bad start made their success sweeter and more profound int he end.

            In the meantime, it trashed their reputation and cost them billions.
            Nobody wants their corporation to repeat that. F1 is simply not worth it.

        2. I agree with that. The teams are definately competeing to show their prowess on a world stage.
          I’m talking more about perception from fans.

          People here can talk forever about the evolving technical, financial, and political undercurrents of F1.
          But for a lot of viewers, its more a surface-level following. Be it for a team, or driver.

          We may nerd out over a new wishbone assemble. But the broad audience doesn’t.
          My dad got me into F1. But he didn’t care about what technical changes were happening in the cars. Only if McLaren were winning.

          1. This is the error people make in motorsport marketing. People might not care about the intricacies of technical changes in detail, but they care holistically. (worth noting there is a huge audience for technical detail stuff)

            Your cared about McLaren because McLaren build their cars to compete as a team. That’s the ‘Technical Aspect’. Does your dad care as much about McLaren in Indy as he does in F1?

  2. I think a national spec series is a lot harder to sell then a global competition between the biggest car brands. So the growth is also smaller.

    Lots of motorsport series are after the same people and they have to choose what series they follow as most have limited time. Not to mention the might have other sports they follow. I think it’s hard for a lot of sport to grow significantly.

    1. True, but there’s a continent worth of people for Indycar to appeal to and they do a decent job going to most places in North-America with big population centers nearby (although they could do with a race in Texas and one or two on the East Coast).

      O’Ward is right; it’s time to consider the product Indycar is putting out. Most of it is pretty good, but it sometimes seems as if the heritage of the series is also a bit of hindrance; having races and cars that go well on everything from street tracks in Detroit to Superspeedways is a big ask.

      1. MichaelN, but weren’t you arguing earlier about the importance of heritage in helping to establish a sense of narrative for a series that can be used to build it’s image?

  3. As somebody with only a passing interest in Indycar, I find the setup confusing. According to the Indycar website, there are 37 active drivers in 15 teams – too many, I think. Further, the team structures are bizarre – there are two different versions of Dayle Coyne racing and four different versions of Andretti. How is the casual viewer going to keep track of all this? And if the casual viewer can’t make sense of the structure, he’s unlikely to become a dedicated fan.

    While I would like to see one or two new teams in F1, I think Indy has gone too far.

    1. Simple really;

      Indycars allow different sponsors for individual “team” cars. Not hard to figure out unless you like the sameness of F1 in regards “team” identity where only two identical liveried cars per team are allowed.

      In Indycars the racing is more important than the technical specification and blandness of a F1 “race”.

      Indycars allow multiple (or singular) car entries per team, F1 does not. Entry into Indycars is open, in F1 entry is closed (ask Andretti).

      Bet F1 would like 15 teams (with multi car entries) to vie for positions on the 26 car grid and 37 drivers to fill those seats.

      1. > Bet F1 would like 15 teams (with multi car entries) to vie for positions on the 26 car grid and 37 drivers to fill those seats.

        I bet they wouldn’t! Just ask Andretti.

        1. The existing teams don’t want any more teams.
          From Liberty’s perspective, more is better – however, they have to balance that desire with the political power they currently get from their private, and not so private, agreements (collusion) with the existing teams.
          Liberty gets what they want by giving the teams what they want. A bit of ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’ is the mantra behind F1’s commercial management these days.
          A big change from Bernie’s ‘divide and conquer’ approach.

    2. @avroanson
      You try to view IndyCar as another version of F1. That’s counterproductive.
      You can’t watch a football game and say: “Why is there 11 players on a team and not only 2? That’s bizarre and confusing”.

      Every IndyCar driver has his own car livery with its personal sponsors. Drivers are no 1, not the teams.

      1. No, I’m saying that the number of teams and drivers in Indycars is too large for a casual fan to keep track of. Consequently they likely won’t develop a deep appreciation of the series. 37 drivers are too many, that’s all.

  4. A proper broadcast without adverts cutting every 3 laps might help … The rest of the world isn’t as tolerant to that as the American public, which has had that since they were born…

    I swear watching indycar from an American broadcast makes me lose my hair… You’re constantly bombarded with ads from insurance companies, pick up trucks, really gross fast food and Viagra.

    1. As a non American it doesn’t bother me. Essentially a lifelong F1 fan but I’ve enjoyed indycar overall more these last three seasons since I began watching it. It feel like a purer Motorsport than F1 currently is and reminds me of when I began watching F1 again as a preteen in 2007. The things many F1 fans feel and gone from F1 since liberty took over, indycar still has, and the fact that there’s solid competition and far better racing is a reason to argue it’s a better series for a motorsports fan. Fan always had hype but that’s just went to another level under liberty. To the point that it seems they’ve structured the sport in a way that doesn’t depend on the track action to do well. Drive to survive and they new younger fan base are I think mostly the reason for this. I think most F1 fans don’t know what they are missing out on F1 potentially being capable of if it was more competitive like indycar and if you’re a real fan of Motorsport (not just F1 and it’s hype) then it’s hard to follow indycar races and then not feel less excited watching F1 *racing*

    2. Forgot to add when I said indycar has far better racing, that drs really wasn’t a good implementation of an overtaking aid. The fact also that F1 is so keen to play around with other race formats yet has never even entertained the idea of trying out different implementations of drs or indeed an entirely different system altogether, is absurd!

      I’ll add I’m for reverse grid sprints, the way F1 currently sits competition wise at least that way you’d get to see the top cars and drivers forced to race each other a little.

      So long as there’s enough incentive I think it’s at least worth a try.

      I said in a previous comment on the hybrid era article that f1s best possible scenario for a real racing fan, is competition from an equal series. It would force better racing and what I believe is the answer. “Spec” cars. Broadly similar but with scope for teams to develope their own parts, which is how indy car is. In indy car the top teams generally stay at the top so it wouldn’t change much in F1 other than closer competition between teams

  5. In reality, the main area Indycar falls short of F1 for the vast majority of the (potential) audience is in the fact that it is a domestic series. All of their events take place in the US, which presents issues both in appearances to ‘outsiders’ (ie Europeans feeling disconnected, or that’s it’s not a series for them) and in time zone challenges to viewers in other parts of the world.
    If most or all of F1’s events occurred in just one country, it wouldn’t have the global appeal it does. Connecting with audiences and locations all around the world massively opens up the image, appeal and accessibility of F1 to people from other places and cultures.

    As far as the on-track product goes, Indycar wins hands-down over F1.
    F1, however, arguably has more depth to the overall series in that there’s also some level of competition off-track (the engineering side).
    This aspect also makes F1 somewhat more attractive to manufacturer brands, which in turn also attracts more viewer and marketing interest from people seeking to follow that brand’s fortunes on the sporting field, and to compare against other brands.
    On the flip-side – the resulting unequal performance (and consequent lack of on-track competition) amongst competitors acts a deterrent to potential viewers coming from other series such as Indycar who expect more.

    As a viewer of both series for 30+ years, I appreciate the strengths of each series, but also see their glaring and damaging weaknesses.
    As far as the changes the two series are making are concerned – F1 is moving much more in Indycar’s direction than Indycar trying to follow F1, and it’s blindingly obvious that F1’s recent growth is largely attributable to those changes. F1’s on-track product has improved massively as the technical regs have tightened up, but the barrier of sustained one-car dominance still provides challenges for people looking for consistently good racing.

    If motorsport were cricket – F1 would be a test match format slowly morphing to a one-day series, where Indycar is proudly a fast-paced, action-packed T20 format.
    The two series will always attract different people, but both are still attractive to anyone with interest in the game rather than just the format.

  6. To the casual fan F1 cars look very similar to each other (almost spec). I don’t think most people really car that an F1 bolt cost $1000, or most of the engineering aspects. A big difference between the series is how the politics, backstabbing and drama is promoted. F1 is like a soap opera and gets people interested. IndyCar doesn’t promote its politics. I’d like to see the series spread it’s wing to some global locations. Many sponsor don’t want to because of the domestic aspect of their products, but they’d grow also with global sponsors if they did.

    1. They don’t ‘care’ but it does fuel their interest. These components coalesce to create a compelling sport. People might say they don#t care, but their actions speaks otherwise. It’s a pluralistic ignorance of sorts. This aspect it a huge driver of narratives. Look at Mercs last two seasons. These are huge factors. The Soap Opera of F1 is predicated on the Technical Aspect. You don’t get one without the other. It’s just that this is often stated out loud enough.

  7. He may want to be careful what he wishes for.

  8. Its the broadcast thats the problem, its dire. Something F1 is trying to emulate for some reason….

  9. The headline is wrong, and unfortunate as a result most of the comments are misplaced also. Pato is NOT saying that Indycar needs an F1-style push. He explicitly says you cannot just copy what other series have done.
    What does he say?
    -Indycar needs to set much more aggressive goals for growth
    -Indycar needs to look at other series and see to find what works, what not and why
    -Indycar then needs to select what it wants to do, even if that might be against what people in the sport want

    To me that sounds all very reasonable. Which motor sports series has grown over the last 10 years, what did that series do to get that increase popularity, can Indy do something similar?

    In my view Indycar cannot strive for an F1 type worldwide popularity. But given the size of North America they could be a lot more popular than they are. Indeed as someone above commented, it was disappointing how empty Laguna Seca was for the 2022 Champions race. I was there.

    As a Dutch person living in the USA I do follow Indycar and F1. Many years since 1994 when I moved here, including the Champcar years. Last several years with both series having a Dutch driver (VeeKay and Max) making it even more fun.
    Why do I watch every practice, every qualification and every race from F1, via the F1TV app, go to one, two or all three USA F1 races the last five years, but Indycar on TV only when convenient, and only the race in Laguna Seca? Racing in Indycar is more often more close than in F1 (although also Indycar has boring races with a winner many seconds ahead).

    Somehow F1 has more intrigue, more drama, more spectacle. Indycar is close racing, but sometimes very amateuristic, confusing due to all pitsstops, too many cars, some very bad drivers. It just “feels” different. Fun to watch, but not special enough to stay at home for, or travel great distances.

    Not sure what Indycar can learn from my “feels”, or even if what I “feel” is shared by enough others to be relevant.

  10. I enjoy the racing aspect of indycar, and they race at some really cool road courses, and that its still relatively affordable so great drivers get a seat without being billionaires. it also looks fun to be at the track where the fans gets really close to the teams and drivers. Due to time zone differences and availability of the broadcast makes it almost impossible to see here in my euro country even if i want to. The broadcast itself is also very amateurish, graphics are also shite, and the US feeds is unwatchable with all the ads.

    I appreciate the Youtube recaps though, at least gives me a chance to follow it a bit.

    Though in general, I think the market for circuit racing is a limited in the US, especially for a series where the racing is in the focus.

    1. Right now Indycar is, in effect, blocking viewers from other countries.
      Unavailable in your region” is being shouted from the “Ways To Watch” page on indycar-dot-com.

      I wonder why there aren’t enough viewers. Hmm, tricky question…

      I’m in the UK and the only available option to watch Indycar would be to buy an overpriced package from Sky Television (paying for a lot more than just Indycar).
      I’m more than happy to pay directly to Indycar on a pay-per-view basis but I am not willing to pay to Sky (I have my reasons but I’m not going to list them here).

      Removing the geolocation blocks would be a good start if Indycar really wants some non-US viewers. Make it easy to pay per view and watch the races regardless of where in the world you might be.

      Until that happens, I shall simply continue to read the race reports and watch the odd highlights on Youtube long after the races are run. Their choice, not mine.

      1. Right now Indycar is, in effect, blocking viewers from other countries.

        They are doing exactly what F1 does, @murasamara300. Actually, most series do exactly this.

        Removing geoblocking would simply deprive Indycar of a lot of money that Sky is willing pay in exchange for exclusive broadcast rights.
        Indycar aren’t desperately short of viewers, by the way – they don’t need to pimp it out for free.

  11. Reasons I don’t follow Indycar:

    1. The commentators say very stupid things and it makes me feel embarrassed for them. This is the same reason I can’t enjoy watching other American sports unless the audio is muted.
    2. It’s too difficult to sort out the liveries and understand which car is which driver for which team. In F1 this is very easy. In F2 this is very easy. in FE this is very easy. In Super Formula this is very easy. in Indycar this requires a field guide.
    3. The points system requires an accountant to understand. I’m not asking you to explain it to me (please don’t).
    4. Spec series is boring on a technical basis. I like F1 more than any other series because it the top engineering sport in the world. I guess yacht racing is a distant second.
    5. Rolling starts are boring. An F1 race is exciting from the start.
    6. Race control decisions make every race feel like it could finish like Abu Dhabi 2021. I’ll add stupid pit lane closed under yellow flag rule here too.
    7. Watching adult humans drink milk is disgusting.
    8. Indycar drivers don’t make it into F1. If I’m going to watch a second series I find a series more interesting if I could be watching a potential future F1 champion in action. F2 gives this. I feel like Super Formula or even the NZ Toyota Racing Series have a better chance of this than Indycar. Who was the last driver who moved from Indy to F1 and had any measurable success? Jacques Villeneuve nearly 30 years ago?? I blame the FIA most for this, but it’s still a factor in why I care less about Indycar.

    The reasons I sometimes follow indycar:
    1. Excellent tracks. Laguna Seca, Road America, etc. I have been to more US indycar races than US F1 races and I don’t even follow the sport other than checking the points tables on Wikipedia, watching the occasional race, or reading articles here.
    2. Occasionally great racing. Usually good racing.
    3. Indianapolis 500.
    4. Oval racing is actually fun to watch. The mix is actually interesting and requires skill in two quite different disciplines for championship success.

  12. Spec vs mod is not a valid argument for audience interests. It’s entirely possible for a sport to be spec and still be tribalistic with teams. Football, Baseball, hockey, and many other team sports the equipment is all equalized and difference is the quality of the teams.

    The problem with Indycar is that it’s entirely a driver’s series. There’s no team (Constructor’s) championship. Which is the cause of lack of tribalism. There’s practically no difference between Chevy and Honda, it’s not hotly debated subject anymore because there’s heavy regulations to ensure fairness. However there’s a difference between Ganassi and Andretti or Penske and McLaren. But those differences are unfortunately not showcased or made into talking points, simply because there’s no team championship.

    If Indycar were to suddenly have a team championship where all 10 full time teams have same amount of cars, the series would have tremendously more talking points and bring more value to the series by proping up the teams that otherwise don’t get any limelight.

    Only other thing Indycar needs is more international races. But I think regulating a team championship would be the fastest and most cost effective means of boosting Indycar’s value and popularity.

    1. There’s no team (Constructor’s) championship.

      There is – it’s just not hyped up to be the most important aspect in Indycar. The teams aren’t constructors, of course – but they do receive a prize for the most points accumulated throughout the season.

      There’s practically no difference between Chevy and Honda

      There’s practically no difference between Honda, Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault engines in F1 anymore either, thanks to the ever-tightening technical regs and the political games that influence them.

      If Indycar were to suddenly have a team championship where all 10 full time teams have same amount of cars, the series would have tremendously more talking points and bring more value to the series by proping up the teams that otherwise don’t get any limelight.

      Personally, I think taking the emphasis away from the athletes and putting it on the teams in Indycar would undermine the series’ biggest strength and key differentiator from F1 – that it is, almost exclusively, a pure driver’s championship.
      The ‘best’ drivers tend to be the most successful ones – not just the ones with political priority in the fastest car, as is the case in F1.

Comments are closed.