IndyCar should follow the NFL and race internationally

IndyCars race around the corner

Could IndyCar one day take its close races off American soil?
photo: Stacy Revere (Getty Images)

On Sunday evening, the New York Jets competed against the Atlanta Falcons in front of a roaring, packed crowd. That sounds strange due to the widespread mass restrictions imposed by Covid-19, but it sounds even stranger when you find out that the game took place in the UK.

The National Football League has been playing in London since 2007, with this year’s game being played on the grounds of Tottenham Hotspurs in the north of the city. In addition to the London events, the series also hosts overseas games in Mexico and has ambitions to host similar events in Germany or Canada.

These international games have helped fuel the growing popularity of the NFL around the world. In the UK alone, audience numbers have increased since the Games started there, and now more than 20 million unique viewers Tune in to watch games during an NFL season.

But you don’t care about football. You like cars, what does all of this have to do with racing?

Well, following a triumphant IndyCar season with a tightly packed field running some of the closest races you can find in top-class motorsport, I think more global motorsport fans should have the chance to experience this sporting spectacle up close.

Romain Grosjean in his purple IndyCar fire suit

Romain Grosjean moved from F1 to IndyCar
photo: Sean Gardener (Getty Images)

For some reason, the series can sometimes be belittled by uninformed viewers who simply assume it is hours of racing on ovals. But the sport’s worldwide viewers will still defend its pride, even though they may never get the chance to see a race in person.

IndyCar has fans outside the US and TV viewership for this year’s edition the famous Indy 500 found out that 172,000 British viewers turned on to watch Hélio Castroneves wins again.

But globally, IndyCar is lagging behind the newcomer series Formula E, which drew 316 million viewers in its 2021 season. While still competitive, the chance to see electric racers battle for 45 minutes is certainly not the only reason for this spectator divide.

Formula E is a tangible event for many worldwide motorsport fans, as it is located in the heart of international cities. The sport disrupts traffic for a few days, offers nearby fans a glimpse into the future of racing, and then flies elsewhere to do it all over again.

An aerial view of the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours in France

Imagine IndyCar doing a lap of the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours
photo: Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours

I’m not saying IndyCar should do the same. His heart, soul and identity are here in the USA. But where F1 had to add new tracks to its calendar this yearIsn’t there a way for IndyCar to do the same?

Once a year, gather all the teams on a container ship and take them to a European circuit. Or stay closer to home and travel to South America, a region known for its passionate motorsport fans.

That wouldn’t be a new idea for sport. IndyCar previously raced in São Paulo until 2014, traveled to Motegi in Japan between 2003 and 2011 and drove to the Australian Gold Coast in 2008.

Meanwhile, American open-wheel racing colleagues from the Champ Car World Series also traveled overseas to host races in places like Heusden-Zolder in Belgium, Klettwitz in Germany and Monterrey in Mexico.

Despite the popularity of these overseas events, races began to fall off the calendar as IndyCar organizers tried to rebuild their home viewers. At this point, IndyCar was still stumbling after the split and later reunification of the series with champ car racing.

Now that IndyCar is trying to revive the following it had during its heyday in the 1980s and 90s, overseas racing could again be a great opportunity to bring the sport to new audiences.

Combine this with the fact that Andretti drivers Alexander Rossi said he would love IndyCar to return to Montreal. and Pato O’Ward said it was “a big dream” Racing in his home country could give momentum to flyaway racing in the future.

Imagine Romain Grosjean Get another chance to race on home turf with a trip to the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours in France, or imagine O’Ward crossing the finish line at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico.

I’m sure that would get the sport a few extra fans around the world.

About Veronica Richards

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