As I type this, the final IndyCar race of the season is about to start. A battle in the shadow of tragedy. On Monday, we lost friend of the site Justin Wilson. A giant in both frame and character. Another head injury claiming a driver that was much beloved by fans, for what they could do in cars that weren’t quite up to par. Losing Jules and Justin in the same year has been cruel. But yet the racing goes on, and it is still amazing and breathtaking.
I am going to be honest. The past couple of years, I only ever really catch two or three Indy races a year. The 500, St. Petersburg, and Long Beach. Lately, however, I have had some of my F1 friends go hardcore into Indy as well. So I figured what the hell. Why not give this series a full shake for this weekend, and give my impressions as my article this week.
Indy Car, I have realized, is in so many ways F1’s American cousin. Still super competitive, very interesting to watch, yet with a more low-stakes feel. Every week in F1 there is panic about money, tech, and how everything is falling apart. Indy doesn’t have that. It feels like NASCAR and F1 had a love child, and the US got custody of the kid.
F1 can learn from this in a few ways. Indy has boards on the cars that have a digital readout of position, just like in WEC. What these also do though, is act as a counter during pit stops. Saying it that way feels like a gimmick, but in all honesty it just comes off as a smart thing to have for those in person. That and the rotating cameras they have on the cars make for great shots of battles. There is one major difference between F1 and Indy, of course, and that is oval tracks. These courses are probably the part of Indy that I actually actively dislike. After all that has happened lately, I think they might be too dangerous in the current format. But that is just my humble opinion.
People have pointed to a lot of Indy car’s features recently as models for F1. I think some of those suggestions are probably not the right fit. Whenever customer cars are mentioned, people talk about what Indy has done as an example of what others should do. I think this would hurt the spirit of F1 in a major way. Each team having their own body, aero, and solutions throughout the year is one of the most important things in the sport. That and having double points at races, and double headers I think can only fit in the world of Indy. One interesting thing that Indy has that I am not 100% on is the fact that teammates don’t have to have the same livery on their car. Maybe it would work in F1, or maybe not. I do like the current unity that we have in F1 though.
Let’s get back to this weekend, and the race that just finished. All I have to say is holy shit… what a race, and what a way to end a season. For the first time in a long time, I had to stop everything else and simply sit back and watch what unfolded. Juan Pablo, who has led all year long in the points and won the Indy 500, was the favorite to win. Still, several others all had chances to pull an upset. And upset was the right word.
There were upsets for Josef Newgarden, who stalled in the pits, suffered a fire, and lost his chance at the win and the title. An upset for Will Power and JPM, as they came together and threw away Juan’s title chance. Graham Rahal losing his Steak And Shake sponsored win. The winner today? Scott Dixon, who not only won the race, but the championship. And not on points either. He tied JPM with his win, and the bonus points, but won only on count-back of wins. What a thriller. What a show to be put on in honor of Justin Wilson.
Speaking of Justin, today I donated to the fund set up for his children, and I would love it if Hooniverse readers would also donate. You can do it all here. Well, with that, I’m going to catch my breath, and get ready for Monza next weekend.
Formula Fun: The IndyCar Detour