IndyCar is ready to target racing outside North America, especially in Europe, again in its next calendars according to Swedish ex-Formula 1 driver Marcus Ericsson.
Races on different continents have been a semi-regular fixture of top-level American single-seater racing for most of its history.
The IndyCar Series’ most recent round outside of the USA and Canada was the Sao Paulo street circuit race in Brazil (pictured below), which was dropped from the calendar for the 2014 season. That ended an 11-year run of races outside of North America appearing on the IndyCar calendar.
The last European events were in Champ Car’s final season in 2007, when it raced at Assen in the Netherlands and Zolder in Belgium.
Ericsson is among an all non-US driver line-up at Chip Ganassi Racing, alongside fellow Swede Felix Rosenqvist and five-time champion Scott Dixon from New Zealand.
All three drivers were asked this week about IndyCar’s current status and direction – especially with regard to the new ownership following the Penske takeover – and all three mentioned the growing interest in IndyCar overseas.
“I think the series is moving in the right direction, gaining momentum all the time,” said ex-Sauber F1 driver Ericsson, who impressed on ovals in his debut IndyCar season in 2019 with Schmidt Peterson.
“Back home in Sweden I think it’s actually more popular than F1 now” :: Felix Rosenqvist
“Especially being from Europe, knowing that European racing scene, I really feel and believe that IndyCar is growing more and more over in Europe as well, gaining more interest, more followers, more drivers that are looking at IndyCar and the American racing scene.
“It really feels like the momentum is going in the right direction for the series.
“Also with Roger [Penske] taking over, as well, I think it’s been another thing that’s been very positive.
“Just from a personal view to be able to go back and do a race in Europe or somewhere else in the world would grow the interest for the series even more.
“I think that will be another step in the right direction.”
Rosenqvist – who came to IndyCar from Formula E – added: “with me and Marcus coming into the series, back home in Sweden I think it’s actually more popular than F1 now, I think the world is kind of getting to know more about it”.
Dixon cited Penske’s team expansion in other countries as a reason why he is the right person to be in charge of the series.
“Whether it’s [more] manufacturers or different circuits or racing maybe a little more internationally, I think Penske knows how to do it” :: Scott Dixon
Penske competes in Australia’s Supercars championship, winning the championship under the DJR Team Penske banner in the last two seasons with Scott McLaughlin.
Indianapolis resident Dixon said seeing the work already ongoing at the Speedway since the Penske takeover and knowing what Penske had achieved “in his personal life to his business life” made him very optimistic about IndyCar’s chances of overseas expansion.
“Having him at the helm, whether it’s [more] manufacturers or different circuits or racing maybe a little more internationally, I think he knows how to do it,” said Dixon.
“He’s in a lot of other countries, as well, just his general knowledge is going to be huge.
“It’s going to be really exciting for us drivers, but also for everybody involved in the series to see where this is going to go. The sky’s the limit.”