SBD/Issue 192/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Does IndyCar Series Need Prominent American Drivers To Succeed?

Rahal Says Series Must Capture American
Audience Before Expanding Internationally

The IndyCar Series is "faced with a quandry," as the drivers in the series are from throughout the world, but the "vast majority of races [are] contested in America," according to Shawn Fenner of the RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH. It begs the question as to whether prominent American drivers being in "contention for wins and in league promotion efforts" is needed. Driver Scott Dixon, who is from New Zealand, said, "Open-wheel racing has been more of an international series in the U.S. as compared to say NASCAR. ... It's great to have American drivers, as this is an American-based series, but the diversity in drivers, types of tracks and so on is what gives this series its identity." Brazilian-born driver Helio Castroneves added, "Open-wheel racing was always an international series. In America, there's a lot of international people, too. You can select from a lot of drivers and become a fan of somebody." But driver Graham Rahal, who was born in Ohio, said, "It's obviously important to promote American drivers. We want to be international, yes, but first you have to capture the American audience." IRL Commercial Division President Terry Angstadt: "Promoting American drivers, it's very important. Counterpoint to that is diversity. ... We really embrace diversity, not only male/female, but it's the international mix of our drivers" (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 6/23). The following is a list of the top 10 drivers in the IndyCar standings and their home country (THE DAILY).

DRIVER
HOME COUNTRY
Ryan Briscoe
Australia
Dario Franchitti
Scotland
Scott Dixon
New Zealand
Helio Castroneves
Brazil
Danica Patrick
U.S.
Dan Wheldon
England
Tony Kanaan
Brazil
Marco Andretti
U.S.
Graham Rahal
U.S.
Hideki Mutoh
Japan

NATIONAL HONOR: Driver Paul Tracy's No. 15 KV Racing Technology IndyCar entry will be sponsored by the Ontario Honda Dealers Association and will support Wounded Warriors.ca in the Honda Indy Toronto on July 12 (IRL). In Toronto, Norris McDonald notes Tracy's car is "red and white in colour and sports the Wounded Warriors.ca logo on the side pods." Tracy, a native of Toronto, said the sponsorship is the "coolest thing I've ever done in my whole career." Tracy: "For a proud Canadian to race in support of our Canadian troops is one of the proudest things I think I've done in my life" (TORONTO STAR, 6/24).

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