IndyCar 2013-2014: A Look Back and a View Ahead

Who could have guessed? Dario retired, TK finally won the 500 and Indy cars will race twice at IMS in May.

As 2013 has become so-o-o last year, and 2014 challenges us to write a check accurately, we take a look back and a view ahead to see what was important, what might become important and what the answers could be to some lingering questions for North America’s top open-wheel series.


  • Four new winners among 10 different winners provided Indy Car with perhaps the most competitive series among the major circuits in 2013. The “Big Three” teams (Penske, Ganassi and Andretti) accounted for 14 victories, but the “Little Four” (Schmidt, KV, Foyt and Coyne) took five wins. Simona De Silvestro, Marco Andretti, Ed Carpenter, Carlos Munoz and Justin Wilson were close to winning at least once in a series that needs more events, not fewer, to promote an even greater diversity on the podium.
  • Three-time Indianaplis 500 champion Dario Franchitti was forced to retire due to medical concerns after a frightening incident during the inaugural Houston street event. While the series will certainly miss the classy Scotsman who reveres the history of the sport, some good may come of it all. Officials are investigating the fencing that gave way when Franchitti flew into it, injuring spectators with debris. Some have also been concerned regarding the placement of the spectator stands at that point on the track. If measures can be taken to prevent this from recurring, the sport will become safer for all concerned. Temporary street courses make up eight of Indy Car’s 18 scheduled events in 2014; races that must be made safer for all involved.
  • Tony Kanaan’s win at the 500, the return of open-wheel racing to the Pocono triangle, an AJ Foyt-owned car visiting victory lane and Paul Page’s impending return to the Indy 500 radio broadcast were 2013 highlights, but several important questions still linger.

How long can the Indy Car series continue without a title sponsor after IZOD departed? When will TV viewers start watching Indy Car regularly and begin to move the rating’s needle to respectable numbers which will drive more sponsorship dollars into the hands of teams and the series? When will the promising “Young Guns” like Marco Andretti, Graham Rahal and Josef Newgarden begin to win on a regular basis? Will Simona, Justin Wilson or Newgarden ever get a ride in a top-rung Penske-Ganassi-Andretti car? Will Conor Daly even get a seat? And finally: When will IC decide to race during more than five months of the year? Is it fear of the NFL TV juggernaut in the fall? A lack of promoters who are willing to host races? The need for less costly sanctioning fees for those tracks (think Road America, Michigan, Phoenix, Chicago or Austin among others) that might be interested? The series’ 18 races are run at 14 venues, thus exposing sponsors’ messages to only 14 customer markets. Baltimore and Brazil are off the schedule, while the somewhat controversial scheduling of a road course event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway opens the weeks-of-May activities at 16th and Georgetown. Answers need to come sooner rather than later.

  • Juan Pablo Montoya returns to Indy car racing after shifts in F1 and NASCAR, and his ride with Roger Penske leaves the door open for 2014 success. Russian pilot Mikhail Aleshin is signed for the second seat at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports while Colombian youngster Carlos Munoz, who almost stole the 2013 500, is with Andretti Autosport.
  • Andretti Autosport switched to Honda power and Ganassi joined Penske at Chevrolet as the potential grid sits at 20-21 confirmed entries with five or six more likely to commit with three months remaining before the green flag opens the season at St. Petersburg on March 31.
  • Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles completed appointments to the company’s leadership team by naming motorsports veterans Jay Frye (Chief Revenue officer), C.J. O’Donnell (Chief Marketing officer) and Derrick Walker (president of Indy Car Operations and Competition) to key positions. These appointments were much-needed by the corporation, especially in the areas of marketing and competition.

Look for these and other issues to make for an interesting and sometimes controversial 2014 open-wheel season both on and off the track.

  • R.I.P. Andy Granatelli.


Share Button