I’ve always been passionate about motorsport, in fact, I literally grew up with it. Some of my earliest memories are of sitting on the sofa as a toddler with my dad watching drivers who are now held up as Formula 1 legends. As I grew so did my love of motor racing, even stretching to ‘borrowing’ my neighbour’s satellite feed to watch DTM on German TV.
But it’s no great secret that my main passion, and indeed the reason I finally got my own satellite dish, is Indycar. Despite it’s years of questionable politics, I’ve always been drawn to the unfairly maligned US open-wheel series. And, at a time when F1 is in a crisis of its own making by failing to deliver exciting racing, there is a lot to like about Indycar.
I love the close, competitive racing, and the variety of circuits and challenges thrown at the teams and drivers. I love the camaraderie and the access afforded to fans, that sense of being part of something special. It’s often said, and may sound like a cliché, but it’s true, Indycar really is like a family and I love being part of it.
One thing that I don’t love or see as a major attraction to Indycar, though, are the occasional sickening crashes. Yet for some reason TV companies seem to believe that’s all the sport is about. How else can you explain the proliferation of high-speed, spectacular crash sequences shown in every promotion or advert for Indycar? Even the opening credits to live broadcasts are punctuated by violent crashes, including some where drivers sustained injuries. Is that really what they think makes people watch?
I’m sure there are some twisted individuals that do watch racing for the crashes, but pure racing fans don’t tune in to see drivers getting wrecked and injured. We’ve lost good people, many of them friends, to this sport over the years, so we’re all too aware of the risks involved. And, just like the drivers, we understand and accept them, because that danger is a big part of what makes Indycar racing so spectacular and impressive. That doesn’t mean we want, or need, to see crashes replayed ad infinitum.
Scott Dixon’s family certainly don’t need to keep seeing his horrendous accident from the 2017 Indy 500, where he was launched skywards into the barrier, every time they watch a race. Dixon was incredibly lucky to walk away with just a broken foot that day, but the story could so easily have been very different. To have that moment he cheated death used to promote not just this year’s Indianapolis 500, but the entire season must make his loved ones shudder even more than I do each time it’s shown.
I’m not naive, I know danger and crashes will always be a part of this sport I love, but there is so much more to Indycar. Maybe broadcasters should try promoting it for all the great points, not just sensationalising what happens when it goes wrong?