indycar nashville 2021 crash

Kevin’s Column: Indycar out of tune in Music City

indycar nashville 2021 crash

There was much buzz surrounding Nashville’s inaugural Music City Grand Prix street race and with IndyCar starting to find some traction it was supposed to be a slam dunk, but it wasn’t.

Late last year IndyCar announced the addition of a street race to be held in Nashville. The race with a three-year contract was said to incorporate the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge spanning the Cumberland River and it immediately received enthusiasm from the IndyCar fan base and a peering eye from those outside.

The venue is the first new street circuit since 2013 when the Grand Prix of Houston was held and it is Indycar’s first return to the Tennessee capital since 2008 as they ran at the Nashville Superspeedway in the past.

Just as it looked all in IndyCar’s favour, the buzz quickly became silence as possibly the worst race in its history was held on Sunday. It was possibly worse than the Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana at NOLA Motorsports Park in 2015, and that one was particularly bad.

Some of F1’s biggest criticisms result from direct comparisons to IndyCar, most recently being the red flag procedures during the British Grand Prix and qualifying rules when Charles Leclerc crashed at Monaco with pole position in hand.

Sunday’s Indycar race was hardly a display of a series with any meaningful progress to racing in any noteworthy aspect, nor a series to tap for answers to F1’s flaws. In fact, the race winner had to recover from an early race penalty after literally running over and ending a rivals day, sound familiar?

The 80 laps of complete chaos was a significant disservice to Motorsport on a whole and certainly embarrassing for the series itself.

Firstly, the racing surface was inexplicably poor; perhaps ‘dangerous’ is a more fitting term. Jimmie Johnson put his hard crash in warm-up down to inexperience, but crashes like this should not be happening in the first place.

Johnson appeared to lose control of his car on the uneven transition at the bridge abutment joint. How a racing surface this bad qualifies as worthy for a top tier motorsport race is baffling.

It would eventually go on to play a role in ending Colton Herta’s day too, the highly rated and superb young American driver who looked to have the strongest command of the bumpy 11-turn 3.49 km street circuit, his race, unfortunately, ended in tears after a minuscule error.

Nearly every restart saw a significant contraction of cars, much like an accordion. The first restart saw Ex F1 driver Marcus Ericsson run over another Ex F1 driver Sebastian Bourdais, a move the French veteran put down to the eventual winner being a “douchbag”.

Despite many drivers wearing cool suits, there was no chill as the most alarming aspect of the race was the zero respect among rivals which led to embarrassing conduct on the track, resulting in the race being held nearly 40% under a full-course caution, complete with two red flags and a final race distance being completed a hand full of minutes prior to sunset.

Race control was tasked with having to reorder the field at one stage after a bizarre circumstance where cars that had stopped to pit nearly beat the pace car coming out of the pits presenting a dangerous situation to track workers in the area.

Even more bizarre, track workers were faced with water sneaking across the racing surface at one point at turn three requiring many laps under the safety car to address the issue.

For the portion of the race that was run under green flag conditions, there was not much to write home about in terms of genuine enjoyment. By the time it was all over, the once full grandstands had receded sigificantly, symbolic of fans pleading to see an end to the underwhelming event.

There is a lot to debrief for IndyCar here, what looked to be a lot of potential quickly turned into… Yikes!