BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – The first episode of “100 Days to Indy” featured a behind-the-scenes look at the IndyCar Series and its personalities and even a shirtless Josef Newgarden.
After all, it should attract new fans.
“They made sure Josef Newgarden was shirtless in the first half, which is a really good idea to get the crowd involved,” joked fellow driver David Malukas on Friday.
IndyCar drivers could catch the show’s premiere either in Long Beach, Calif., or on Thursday night before converging for this weekend’s Children’s of Alabama Indy Grand Prix. The six-part documentary series, produced by Penske Entertainment and VICE Media Group, debuted on The CW Network.
It’s a showcase for a series that competes with NASCAR and Formula 1 for viewers – and IndyCar hopes it will help garner a surge in popularity with the upcoming crown jewel Indianapolis 500.
Newgarden said the series “can be really, really intimidating” for new fans trying to figure out what’s going on. “The 100 Days to Indy show makes it more accessible and gives insight into the backgrounds and personalities of the riders,” he said.
“I think this is the kind of show that can make her more accessible and give you more than one reason to follow her,” said Newgarden, a two-time series champion who drives for Team Penske. “It’s not just the big competition on the track. If you’re a car fanatic or a motorsport fanatic, it’s pretty easy to get drawn into. But if you don’t care, you have to have another reason to tune in. And I think that gives people that.”
The show’s crew didn’t have to persuade him to go shirtless during a workout at his home gym and backyard.
“It was really hot and muggy the day they were there,” Newgarden said. “If I end up outside, the shirt usually takes off.”
Kyle Kirkwood, fresh from his first win of the series at Long Beach, thought the first episode had a lot packed in and believes it will be more detailed – and better – in the future.
“There are many aspects that are likely to generate interest in drivers’ personal lives that I think people will enjoy,” he said, “…I thought people could have the level of expertise of a hardcore racing fan see, and I feel. There were a lot of things that were very easy for people to understand, for a normal guy who just turned on The CW and said, ‘Hey, look, there’s races. Let’s see what’s going on here.’”
Marcus Ericsson’s biggest moment of 2023 came without a cheering crowd and with the bare minimum of witnesses.
The defending Indy 500 champion married Greek girlfriend Iris Tritsaris Jondahl on the shore of Santa Barbara, California, a day after the Long Beach race.
“We want to start our life here in the States and we want to do it with just me and Iris and then in the off-season we want to have a proper wedding celebration with family and friends in Europe,” said Ericcson, who is from Sweden. Only his trainer Alex Elgh was present.
The couple began dating weeks before the 2022 Indianapolis 500, sharing a celebratory kiss onstage.
“Iris is my biggest supporter and someone who has been a huge part of my success and growth as a driver and as a person over the past few years,” said Ericcson, current series leader for Chip Ganassi Racing.
LOCK IT OUT
Kirkwood clinched his first IndyCar win and then promptly flew back to his hometown for a different type of closure.
He closed a house in Jupiter, Florida, 15 minutes from his childhood home and a mile from his mother’s art gallery. It’s also close to its happy off-track spot: the beach.
“It’s what I love. I grew up by the water and I don’t want to leave it,” said the Andretti Autosport driver. “Indianapolis is great and I love motorsport and I love how big the motorsport industry is in Indianapolis. But the water has something.
“I grew up fishing, surfing, diving and so on. Being so close to the beach just gives me a kind of calm that I never want to leave.”