IndyCar Series

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IndyCar Series
Current season IndyCar Series 2020
Logo IZOD IndyCar Series.svg
Vehicle type Monoposto
Country or region North America
Current name IndyCar Series
First season 1996
chassis Dallara
Engines Honda , Chevrolet
tires Firestone
Official website

The IndyCar Series is a motorsport series from the United States organized by IndyCar . It was founded in 1996 as a spin-off from the original IndyCar series as the Indy Racing League (IRL) and has been called the IndyCar Series since 2003 . The series is the highest category in American Championship Car Racing . She shared this position between 1996 and 2007 with the CART / Champ Car series, with which the IndyCar Series merged for the 2008 season.


In November 1991, beat Tony George , president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) and organizer of the Indy 500 , the PPG Indy Car World Series, a new structure with the creation of a new umbrella company, the Indy Car Inc. , above. The CART refused. In February 1992 CART licensed the name "IndyCar" from IMS, while George founded Indy Car Inc. These two processes should cause significant problems in the future. In the following years, resentment grew at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The company lamented the diminishing importance of the Indianapolis 500 miles in the IndyCar (CART) series. In March 1994, George announced that he would create a competition series for the PPG IndyCar World Series: the Indy Racing League . The CART protested unsuccessfully against the project. In September 1995, the competitive series formed while most of the IndyCar (CART) teams refused to participate in the Indy Racing League. In January 1996, the IRL held its first race in Orlando under the control of the USAC . The most important race of the season, the Indianapolis 500, no longer took place in the PPG IndyCar World Series, but in the IRL. The resulting formula racing series was based exclusively on oval tracks until 2004 .

Competitive situation

Immediately after the founding of the new series, the IRL consisted primarily of teams that were only moderately successful at the IndyCar World Series. The former Formula 1 drivers from all parts of America, who had traditionally been represented, were missing from the field. Accordingly, the series received little public attention, only the Indianapolis 500 had high audience figures.

The big teams initially stayed in the old series called CART World Series after a trademark lawsuit . This created a problem for both sides: The CART teams missed the top race in Indianapolis, which is many times higher than the ratings of the other races; the IRL teams drove the rest of the season with practically no spectators. Therefore, some CART teams initially tried to register for the Indianapolis 500, which was mostly only characterized by moderate success, as the experience with the cars was lacking and the double development work turned out to be too expensive. Chip Ganassi's team , who won the Indianapolis 500 in 2000 with his driver Juan Pablo Montoya, was an exception .

The big change began with the 2002 season : Penske Racing , one of the most successful teams on the scene, switched to the IRL. With the 2003 season , since the IRL has been allowed to use the name IndyCar Series , several top teams, including Chip Ganassi Racing and Andretti Green Racing , switched to Tony George's series. As a result, the CART lost much of its substance; In the IndyCar Series, however, primarily only the losses were concealed: apart from three drivers from the two previous top teams Panther Racing and Kelley Racing , only drivers from former CART teams were on the first 13 championship positions at the end of the season. Still, the IRL was barely able to raise the traditional 33 cars for the Indianapolis 500. From the 2005 season , the IndyCar Series also started on city and circuit circuits for the first time.

In the years that followed, the IndyCar Series fell flat in terms of popularity, whereas CART continued to decline: With great difficulty, the 18 cars stipulated in the contracts with the track owners could be launched. The low point marked the 2007 season, in which there were changing drivers for almost every race.

In the meantime, NASCAR had grown into an overpowering competitor: Their stock car races were consistently sold out and had even surpassed the Indianapolis 500 in the ratings.


In February 2008, the Champ Car series run by the Open Wheel Racing Series (OWRS), the successor organization to CART, was financially at an end. In an act called Merger (Fusion), the remnants were taken over by the IRL and part of the teams switched to the IndyCar Series. These were given free of charge by Tony George Dallara vehicles. The Champ-Car teams only held one final race in Long Beach with the Champ-Car vehicles, which, however, was fully rated with IRL points (as did the IRL race taking place at the same time in Motegi, Japan, in which the " old “IRL teams”).

The new series was characterized by a certain spirit of optimism: 25 vehicles were at the start throughout the 2008 season, 28 each of the races in Texas and Chicago, which were shown live on one of the major US broadcasters - the best figures for a long time. Only at the Indianapolis 500 with "only" 37 qualifiers (33 of them start) the improvement was limited. The former Champ Car teams were hopelessly defeated on the ovals at first, but this improved over the course of the season. The end result was a season in which a total of ten drivers won the 18 races, six of them for the first time in this series.



A Dallara DW12 from Colton Herta
The same vehicle in oval configuration

In contrast to Formula 1 , the teams do not manufacture the main components of the chassis and engine themselves, but buy them ready-made. With the Dallara DW12 , only one standard chassis has been available since the 2012 season, so the vehicles from the manufacturers Honda and Chevrolet only differ in the engine.

After Chevrolet and Honda produced their own aerokit in addition to engines for three years, a uniform aerokit was introduced in 2018. Its appearance is based on the CART vehicles from the 90s, but is still built on the DW12 chassis. In contrast to the previous aero kits, it generates less downforce and less dirty air . About two thirds of the downforce is generated by the underbody. As usual, there is a circuit and an oval version. The main difference between the oval aerokit and the circular aerokit is the significantly smaller front and rear wings. It is only used on the faster ovals. On shorter ovals such as B. the Gateway Motorsports Park , however, is driven with the circuit aero kit.

Different wing configurations are prescribed depending on the route characteristics. The oval races largely depend on the vehicle setup and the driver's courage to maneuver the car through the tightest of gaps at well over 300 km / h. On the circuits, on the other hand, the decisive factor is driving ability, which can also compensate for a poor setup. In addition, the high level of performance, especially on the ovals, ensures that the balance of power changes significantly over the course of the race.

The starting line-up only plays a subordinate role here: At the 2008 season finale, three of the four drivers from the last two rows were in the top 10 and Helio Castroneves even won from last place on the grid.

Engine and fuel

At the end of the 1960s, methanol was introduced as a fuel (at that time in the predecessor organization CART ). This forced the teams to make a higher number of pit stops, as the calorific value of methanol is lower than that of gasoline, i.e. more liters are burned per kilometer. Since methanol also burns without visible flames, the characteristic water jet was prescribed after refueling in order to extinguish any ignited methanol. The formula for 2004/2005 prescribed vehicles with open wheels, standard tires, a sequential 6-speed gearbox and 3.0-liter V8 naturally aspirated engines. In 2006 a ten percent ethanol admixture was successfully tested. Since the 2007 season, all racing cars have been running on 100 percent ethanol fuel . For this, the engine capacity was increased to 3.5 liters and the tank size was reduced from 30 to 22 gallons (83 liters) in order to keep the number of pit stops required. 2.2-liter V6 turbo engines have been used since the 2012 season.


So far there have been five deaths of racing drivers in races or training runs of the racing series. Scott Brayton died on May 17, 1996, Tony Renna on October 22, 2003 , Paul Dana on March 26, 2006 , Dan Wheldon on October 16, 2011 and Justin Wilson on August 24, 2015 . This and a very high number of injuries in comparison to other, comparable racing series caused some discussions at times. In the meantime, significant work has been done on security. The most important changes include modified outer walls on the ovals, which give way slightly ( SAFER Barrier ) and a modified vehicle in which the transmission no longer acts as a rigid strut protruding from the rear - this means that the vehicle absorbs more energy when it hits the rear. In addition, new cockpit protection will be introduced for the 2020 season . The solution called Aeroscreen is a combination of halo and windshield. The cockpit protection was developed by Red Bull Advanced Technology.

IndyCar racetracks


Originally the races of the IndyCar Series, formerly the Indy Racing League , only took place on oval tracks, as the racing series was to be marketed as a pure oval formula series in order to stand out from the Champ Cars with their variety of tracks.

The two one-mile long oval tracks New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway were taken over from the former PPG IndyCar World Series . There was also the newly built one-mile tri-oval in Walt Disney World Park in Orlando, Florida. At the same time, the Las Vegas Motor Speedway , Texas Motor Speedway , Charlotte Motor Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway were also used for the first time by modern formula vehicles, which were previously only reserved for NASCAR, at 1.5-mile speedways that were slightly elevated . These extremely high speedways were criticized at that time because there were very serious accidents there - especially after a very tragic accident in which three spectators at the Charlotte Motor Speedway were killed in 1999 by debris flying around. Another serious accident occurred in 2003 at the Texas Motor Speedway, in which Kenny Bräck was seriously injured and barely escaped death.

After this accident, the races in Las Vegas, Charlotte, Atlanta and Dover were deleted from the calendar in the following years. Instead, in the years 2000 to 2003, the IRL took over most of the traditional, because only slightly elevated, champ car ovals, such as Homestead-Miami Speedway , Gateway International Raceway , Nazareth Speedway , Michigan International Speedway and California Speedway . Later, the newly built 10-18 ° superelevated 1.3 to 1.5 mile long tri-oval tracks Kentucky Speedway , Kansas Speedway , Chicagoland Speedway and Nashville Superspeedway were added. These formed the backbone of the IndyCar Series until 2010. But there were also races on short tracks such as Richmond International Raceway or Iowa Speedway - a type of track that until then had only rarely been used by IndyCars.

The Homestead Miami Speedway was rebuilt in 2003 and the curve superelevation increased to about 20 °. There was another serious accident there in 2006, in which Paul Dana was killed. This also triggered criticism of the IndyCar oval races.

Starting in 2005, road courses were used for the first time in the IndyCar Series. The first such event took place in St. Petersburg . In addition, the two NASCAR tracks at Watkins Glen and Sonoma were added to the racing calendar. For this, the number of oval races has been reduced. In 2005 the Pikes Peak International Raceway and the Nazareth Speedway retired from the IndyCar Series for Sonoma and Watkins Glen . These two one-mile ovals were also completely closed at the same time.

After the merger with the Champ Car World Series in 2008, some former street circuit races from this series were taken over in the years to come, for example the race on the Long Beach Grand Prix Circuit . There were also brand new races in Baltimore and Barber Motorsports Park .

Despite the reduction in oval races between 2005 and 2011, some well-known ovals came back on the calendar, including the Milwaukee Mile , Loudon's New Hampshire Speedway and the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The latter was said to be partly responsible for a tragedy in 2011 in which the racing driver Dan Wheldon was killed in a mass crash of 15 cars. As a result, more and more voices from racing driver colleagues and the press were loud that the oval races with formula cars are too dangerous. In particular, the strong curve superelevation is in connection with the IndyCars in the criticism. Like the Homestead-Miami-Speedway, the Las Vegas Motor Speedway was also retrofitted with a larger cant. The variety of routes has been more balanced since around 2015. Permanent racetracks, street courses and ovals each make up about a third of the racing calendar.


Although the IRL was originally planned as an all-American series, a number of international races have been added to the calendar over the years. The first such race took place in 2002 at the Twin Ring Motegi in Japan. Since the CCWS merged with the ICS in 2008, a race planned for the CCWS was held in Surfers Paradise in the ICS in the same year , but this was not part of the championship. The championship, however, included the two Canadian races in Edmonton and Toronto, which were taken over by the CCWS . Later there was also a race on a new street circuit in São Paulo , Brazil. In 2012, the IndyCar Series was to appear on the Qingdao road circuit in China for the first time . However, the race was canceled during the season.

Indianapolis 500

The Indianapolis 500 was always a special event, despite the many changes in the racing calendar. For example, after the takeover of Superspeedways Michigan International Speedway and California Speedway in 2002, the length of these Superspeedway races was reduced from 500 miles under the CART to 400 miles under the IRL so that the 500 miles from Indianapolis continued to have a special status among the Superspeedways. Since the 2014 season, the races in Indianapolis have been awarded double championship points to upgrade their status.

Comparison with Formula 1

The IndyCar Series, like the Champ Car Series in the past , is often referred to as the US equivalent of Formula 1 . This comparison is based on the fact that Formula 1 plays practically no role in the USA. Formula 1 races in the USA are only irregular; successful drivers haven't been for decades. At the heyday of CART before the split, it could be dangerous for Formula 1 in terms of media effectiveness and audience interest. The separation ensured that the comparison of the racing series became more and more unequal. Today Formula 1 is superior to the IndyCar Series in terms of audience numbers, media impact and image worldwide.

IRL and IndyCar Series champions

year driver team Rookie of the year
1996 United StatesUnited States Buzz Calkins Scott Sharp
United StatesUnited States 
Bradley Motorsports
A.J. Foyt Enterprises
no award
1997 United StatesUnited States Tony Stewart Team Menard United StatesUnited States Jim Guthrie
1998 SwedenSweden Kenny Bräck AJ Foyt Enterprises United StatesUnited States Robby our
1999 United StatesUnited States Greg Ray Team Menard United StatesUnited States Scott Harrington
2000 United StatesUnited States Buddy Lazier Hemelgarn Racing BrazilBrazil Airton Daré
2001 United StatesUnited States Sam Hornish Jr. Panther Racing BrazilBrazil Felipe Giaffone
2002 United StatesUnited States Sam Hornish Jr. Panther Racing FranceFrance Laurent Rédon
2003 New ZealandNew Zealand Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing United KingdomUnited Kingdom Dan Wheldon
2004 BrazilBrazil Tony Kanaan Andretti Green Racing JapanJapan Kosuke Matsuura
2005 United KingdomUnited Kingdom Dan Wheldon Andretti Green Racing United StatesUnited States Danica Patrick
2006 United StatesUnited States Sam Hornish Jr. Penske Racing United StatesUnited States Marco Andretti
2007 United KingdomUnited Kingdom Dario Franchitti Andretti Green Racing United StatesUnited States Ryan Hunter-Reay
2008 New ZealandNew Zealand Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing JapanJapan Hideki Mutoh
2009 United KingdomUnited Kingdom Dario Franchitti Chip Ganassi Racing BrazilBrazil Raphael Matos
2010 United KingdomUnited Kingdom Dario Franchitti Chip Ganassi Racing United KingdomUnited Kingdom Alex Lloyd
2011 United KingdomUnited Kingdom Dario Franchitti Chip Ganassi Racing CanadaCanada James Hinchcliffe
2012 United StatesUnited States Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport FranceFrance Simon Pagenaud
2013 New ZealandNew Zealand Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing FranceFrance Tristan Vautier
2014 AustraliaAustralia Will power Team Penske ColombiaColombia Carlos Muñoz
2015 New ZealandNew Zealand Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing ColombiaColombia Gabby Chaves
2016 FranceFrance Simon Pagenaud Team Penske United StatesUnited States Alexander Rossi
2017 United StatesUnited States Josef Newgarden Team Penske United Arab EmiratesUnited Arab Emirates Ed Jones
2018 New ZealandNew Zealand Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing CanadaCanada Robert Wickens
2019 United StatesUnited States Josef Newgarden Team Penske SwedenSweden Felix Rosenqvist

Women in the IndyCar Series

The IndyCar Series has a high percentage of women compared to other well-known racing series.

  • Lyn St. James , active from 1996 to 2000, with a total of five races (between 1992 and 1995 an additional eleven races in the CART series). Eighth place in Orlando in 1996 was her best result.
  • Sarah Fisher , active from 1999 to 2010, with a total of 83 races. A runner-up in Homestead in 2001 and a Pole in Kentucky in 2002 were her best results.
  • Danica Patrick , active from 2005 to 2011 and at the Indy 500 2018, with a total of 115 races. The 2008 win at Motegi and three second places (2007 in Detroit , 2010 in Fort Worth and Homestead ) are her best results.
  • Milka Duno , active from 2007 to 2010, with a total of 43 races and five lead laps in 2008 in Joliet . An eleventh place in 2007 in Fort Worth was her best result.
  • Simona de Silvestro , active from 2010 to 2013 and 2015, with a total of 71 races. A second place in Houston 2013 was her best result.
  • Ana Beatriz , active from 2010 to 2013, with a total of 29 races.
  • Pippa Mann , active from 2011 to 2019, with a total of 19 races.
  • Katherine Legge , active from 2012 to 2013, with a total of eleven races (2006 and 2007 an additional 28 races in the Champ Car series).

(Status: end of season 2019)

See also

Individual evidence

  1. IndyCar engineer explains: How Aeroscreen affects cars and drivers. Retrieved April 15, 2020 .
  2. IndyCar 2018: First laps with the new aero kit. Retrieved April 15, 2020 .
  3. Scott Dixon: Aeroscreen is where Halo needs to go. In: June 13, 2019, accessed April 14, 2020 .
  4. 3 Fans Killed At Indy Race
  5. Kenny Brack's accident
  6. Paul Dana had a fatal accident during the IRL warm-up
  7. Nazareth Speedway to close after 2004 season + PIKES PEAK INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY TO BE SOLD TO INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  8. INDYCAR: Oval Madness ( Memento of the original from October 21, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  9. ^ It's banking that makes IndyCar ovals dangerous
  10. ^ Jimmie Johnson rules Sprint Cup
  11. [1] , [2]

Web links

Commons : IndyCar Series  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files