Indianapolis Monthly - Is IndyCar’s New Reality A Turn For The Better?

May 01, 2018

I’m sitting in the middle of an Indianapolis Motor Speedway exec’s wildest dream: It’s just after 9 p.m. on a Wednesday night in mid-February, and the front room of Kilroy’s in downtown Indy is packed with dozens of raucous, half-drunk Naptowners already thinking about May.

Their eyes are riveted to the wall of flat-screens. We’re smack in the stretch run of Big 10 basketball season, and the Hoosiers are playing a conference foe in Bloomington. But instead of displaying the Assembly Hall hardwood, these TVs are tuned to prime-time network programming where IndyCar drivers are competing in a nationally televised race watched by 10 million fans  across the country.

The Kilroy’s crowd erupts, standing over tables of unfinished breadsticks and buckets of iced-down Miller Lite bottles, as the cameras show a new race leader, 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi, with local favorite and Noblesville native Conor Daly right behind him. But the two are not running tail-to-nose in separate IndyCars careening down the front straightaway. Rossi is behind the wheel of a rented four-door coupe with Daly in the back seat as the two plainclothed athletes try to navigate the crowded streets of Bahrain. This is The Amazing Race, the CBS reality game show, in which 11 teams of two everyday joes and janes scamper around the globe, stopping in exotic locations to complete bizarre challenges of might, skill, strategy, or stomach in pursuit of a winner-take-all, $1 million purse. Rossi and Daly comprise Team IndyCar, trying to outwit and outrun the likes of...

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