Taking part in this survey are:
Janette Compitus (JC) from Plymouth, Devon
James Knighton (JK) from Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire
Ben Haddleton (BH) from Yorkshire
Mathew Restiano (MR) from Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, and
Giuliano Canbera, (GC), from Sao Paulo, Brazil
Was the 2012 season your first time watching the Indycar Series?
JC – Yes it was my first full season following the series
JK – No, I started watching last year occasionally, but followed the whole season this year
BH - It was my first time following it properly for a while yes. Last time I was properly following driving stateside was probably 2003 CART. Always like Paul Tracy as he was pretty no nonsense. Have caught the odd race in a season here and there since but never really followed a championship fully since then.
MR - 2012 was definitely the first year I took serious notice of the Indycar series. I was very much into the Champ car series pre-unification but didn't really follow the new unified series after that due to a lack of terrestrial coverage and a lack of interest in oval racing.
GC – No, I Started watch in 1994 and 1995... And then stopped watching because it became to confusing to have 2 separated classes. The CHAMP CAR was nice, but I miss the ovals, and the IRL was nice too, but the races used to be so boring.
Why, or what attracted you to watch the series this year in particular?
JC - When Rubens Barrichello was unceremoniously ousted from F1 and Adrian Rickard thrusted a copy of the 2011 Indy 500 race in my hand I thought "what the heck" I will check it out and see why Adrian works all the hours god sends to pay to go and watch this "for real" in the USA and why a defunct F1 driver would want to do it.
JK - Had followed Mike Conway through his early career in the UK Junior formula and F3 and was interested how he'd get on.
BH – I figured the new chassis' and the new regulations would be a good time to start following it again. Plus my participation in an online racing club helped reignite my love of all things with wheels and engines.
MR - Mainly Rubens Barrichello, the new DW12 and Lotus joining the series added lots to my already increasing interest.
GC - The new car, new engines and having Fontana back on the schedule.
Have you been to or watched other forms of motorsport series before, such as Formula One, NASCAR, WRC, BTCC, etc.?
JC – I am a huge F1 fan, adore WRC especially when it is on the snow.
JK – Yes, F1, BTCC and Sports cars. F1 on TV, other areas on TV and live including some European travel to watch sports cars, DTM, Formula 3.
BH - Watched F1 since 1992. My Gran got me into it and used to tell me about when she used to go to Silverstone, way back in the past (50's era I think!). Also watch BTCC (although normally only for the first half of the season as after the seemingly insanely long mid-season break I tend to forget about it). In the past have also watched NASCAR and Indycar (and CART / ChampCar) from stateside.
MR - I have been a life long Formula One fan and I would say it is my motorsport of choice although I am as equally interested n the BTCC.
GC – Yes, GP2, Global Rallycross and the Grand-AM. I watched the full season, ALMS, NASCAR almost the whole season, FIA GT1, V8 and Super GT.
What was your knowledge of the Indycar Series prior to 2012?
JK - Quite good, I read Autosport weekly and have been aware of Indycar since the days of Mark Blundell but not been able to watch races before.
BH - Pretty much none really. Ever since the merger (Indycar/Champcar) I haven’t really been following open wheel in the states and any US races I watched were NASCAR (mainly to keep tabs on how Montoya was getting on/who he was annoying). I had even forgotten the points system! So basically started watching as if from the beginning. With so many changes it was almost like watching a new series.
MR - I was very much interested in the Champ car series pre unification but when the two series reunited and it was clear that overage would be on Sky sports (which I did not have) my interest dipped some what. During 2010 when details of the prospective new Indycar designs were being unveiled I was pretty blown away by the Deltawing concept. This really got me interested in the selection process and into the series a bit more (although it inevitably lost out to the Dallara design). I did read a lot of the 2011 season race reports online but still did not take in much coverage.
GC - I used to watch back in the middle 90's... saw a few races around 2000, 01, 02.. And then stopped watching. Not long back into the series, but I am well informed with what is happening.
What is your view on oval racing compared to street / natural road courses which are more prominent in Europe?
JC - I was perplexed at first at why these guys would just want to drive round and round and round an oval, "isn't it just dizzy work doing that? And very laborious also?" I was looking at the race very simply, I wasn't quite seeing the bigger picture yet. It wasn't until the drivers were deeper into the race, the pit stops and tactics were becoming apparent and all other incidents that were going on that I started to get a 'wee' grip of what this was all about. "Hhmmmm this is actually quite good to watch, maybe I should check this out a bit more often."
JK - More entertaining as cars were able to pass and run closer together. Street & road courses where interesting but the ovals add a difference that we do not experience in UK
BH - Oval racing has its own merits. It tends to be more about strategy and pacing rather than outright speed which I actually like. I enjoy following strategies and seeing how they pan out and the amount of pit stops done in such races makes it hard (but fun) to try and keep on top of! This seasons DW12 really improved the racing too I think as instead of just hammering the throttle, drivers were reporting that you actually had to slow it down a touch to take the turns, more as you would a corner on a track rather than a flat out oval.
MR - I much prefer street and road course racing compared to oval racing but I do very much admire the skill involved in oval racing and the close proximity the cars run at. That does not mean that I do not enjoy oval racing, it is still exciting to watch and enjoyable.
GC - Oval races are amazing to watch when you know the series, the drivers, the rules... But people ignore that and just say ''Oh oval races are boring, running around in circles''... But no, Oval races with open wheel cars are the best thing ever. We don’t have anymore great road tracks on the schedule because of the money, for example Road America, Glen, Laguna Seca, Portland. We miss them. Even the Cleveland track on the Airport is better than Sonoma or Mid-Ohio or Barber.
How did you watch or follow the racing, on screen, at the track or another way?
JK - On Sky Sports, but I would attend a race in the UK if one was held these days. Also through Autosport and Radio Le Mans Midweek Motorsport programme which has an 'ear on the oval' section covering US racing which is quite informative/funny.
BH - Normally I would follow the racing with a few friends on party chat on the Xbox. I normally would use other sources rather than SkyGo on Xbox as I found the picture a bit too unclear at times, but this normally led to me seeing the action before the rest of them due to their streams buffering which was fun. Would quite often be 20-30 seconds ahead of them in the coverage so I would go "aaah!" and then promptly shut up. They always knew when something was coming!
MR - Due to still not having a Sky Sports subscription still I utilise a lot of online media to follow the races. The official Indycar twitter feed & other people I follow tweet live updates during the races. I also read race reports and news on the Autosport website & the official website. To its credit, the series also puts full race reruns on YouTube allowing me to watch the races at a later date.
GC - I went to the track to see all three races of Indycar here at Sao Paulo, Brazil. The rest of the season I watch on the internet. Sometimes the Brazilian TV (Bandeirantes) shows some of the races, but only the Indy 500 and Sao Paulo.
Are you a Sky Sports subscriber, if not would you consider it?
JK - Sky Sports main package - though I don't understand why they don't put Indy racing on the F1 channel and keep all the motorsport in one place. Changing channel and sometimes only putting races on the red button don't always make them easy to find! Also when US commentators start talking about graphics we can’t see it gets frustrating but at least they sometimes stay with the race rather than follow the US advertising schedule.
BH - I just got the F1 channel this year. I still hope that they will put Indycar on there for next year as it would make sense to have motorsport on a channel for it rather than Paul di Resta in a Helicopter for the millionth time! If not then I will consider it, but to fork out for a full sports package for the sake of watching Indycar is a bit steep for my liking.
MR - The cost of the Sky sports subscription on top of the Sky TV subscription is the only reason for not getting it really. If the Indycar races were moved to the SSF1 channel then I probably would get it as the HD pack is some what cheaper than the Sky sports pack.
Was there a particular team or driver you supported or were drawn to?
JC - Today I am a few races in, still learning all about the teams, drivers, history of the sport and I know that the 'wee' Brazilian drives for KV Racing, is very happy and having a blast doing so.
JK - Mainly UK drivers - Conway, James Jakes, and Dario but he's almost American these days.......like the battle between Ganassi & Penske though sometimes it would be interesting if the featured the smaller teams at times.
BH - Well from when I watched back in 2003, the only names I remembered were Tag and RHR. Because of that, I kept my eye out for them but would say if I followed any drivers, it would be Sato (I think I nearly cried at the end of the Indy 500!) and Rubens from their time in F1. Mainly though I followed, of course, the Yorkshire lads, Justin Wilson and James Jakes, in the Dale Coyne team (aka Team Yorkshire).
MR - The three drivers I followed the closest were Rubens Barrichello, Takuma Sato & Justin Wilson.
GC – I have liked Will Power since 2010. As a Brazilian I like Tony Kanaan and Helio Castroneves. I like to see Bourdais on the top too. I would like to see American Racers winning races. And I want to see Simona de Silvestro racing good next year with a good car!
Is there something which stands out to you from the Indycar series compared to other forms of motorsports you watch?
JK - The willingness of the drivers to talk to the media and that they do not always follow the PR lines and occasionally say what they actually think! The ovals add something the European motorsport doesn't have as well.
BH - The main thing I think is the strategies. They seem to pit a lot more than say an F1 race which makes keeping tabs of who pitted when for what tyres and what fuel strategy a lot more interesting. Plus they throw out cautions a lot more as well which really spices things up in that regard!
MR - Obviously the new DW12 is rather different looking to other Single seater cars. The tracks on the whole are a lot less technical than F1 circuits (this may be due to the higher ratio of street circuits) but I feel these actually create better racing.
GC - Oval courses, and the new rear wheel guards on the cars!
What do you make of the driver / team use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter?
JC – It is Awesome, it keeps you in touch with the drivers during the none-race days.
JK - Very good at times - follow several on twitter and sometimes provides good insights though is becoming more and more PR driven where drivers tend to tow the party line.
BH - I do use Twitter quite a bit and have a separate list for all drivers, teams, journalists in motorsport that I care to listen to. Have most F1 drivers/teams on it, a fair few Indycar drivers/teams, some BTCC drivers, various journalists / websites and a few drivers from lower formulae as well. It tends to get quite hectic following it some weekends!
GC - It’s really nice! They always talk to you. I got answered by almost every driver/team/track/sponsor that I talked to. In USA they really make the sport for the fan.
And finally, will you be back next season?
JC - I look forward to the next season with much anticipation and cannot wait to sponge up more of this motorsport.
JK – Yes, as long as Sky (or BBC/ITV) sign up to cover races and it does not increase the cost of my TV subscription.
BH - Of course, bring it on! Want to see "Team Yorkshire" showing the Americans how to do it!
MR - Hell yes!
GC - Yes. But Indycar needs to bring the OLD ONES back! They should stop race at boring street venues only because of the money.
You can follow everyone on Twitter; the links are in the names at the top of this blog.