IndyCar's Next Generation is Ready for Its Close Up
However, if there’s one thing that all these drivers have is common is that they’re all on the wrong side of 30. I remember watching all these guys (save Power) in the CART series back in the mid to late 90s. While this generation still has plenty of life in it, for a series starved for attention, new blood will be needed and needed soon.
Luckily, fresh faces have been coming into IndyCar these past few years. Here are seven of them currently in the series with potential as well as fan favorite attributes. This list does not include drivers currently in the Mazda Road to Indy, or USAC driver Bryan Clauson, who is competing in the Indy 500 (more on him as our Indy 500 coverage continues). The oldest of the seven is 27, the youngest is 21. Five of them are the nationality everyone thinks that IndyCar desperately needs: American. Put simply, if IndyCar can not effectively market these seven drivers, then the problems with this series may be terminal.
In alphabetical order, here are the seven young guns to know, both for this year’s 500 and in the future.
The surname is of course instantly recognizable. Marco is the third generation of racing’s most famous family: Michael’s son and Mario’s grandson. Marco has been around for 6 years, but is still just 25. He broke on to the scene with a bang in the 2006 Indy 500, losing the lead in the final yards to Sam Hornish, Jr. His career hasn’t hit those heights yet, with just 2 career wins. He also has a reputation as a whiny prima donna (he’s not the first Andretti to have that rep). Of course, names worth following don’t necessarily have to be “good guys.” Marco is certainly a polarizing figure due to his name and conduct, but as we’ve seen with NASCAR and the Busch brothers, polarizing can still equal eyeballs.
Simona de Silvestro
The 23 year old Swiss Missile is in her 3rd season in IndyCars. Of course, given her gender, comparisons to Danica Patrick are inevitable. Before coming to IndyCar, Simona competed in the Atlantic series for 2 years. She won five races and nearly the championship is 2009. Danica also competed in Atlantics for 2 years and didn’t win at all. The big cars have been more of a struggle for Simona, who’s been stuck driving for a smaller single car team, but they have been moments. Simona led laps in her first ever IndyCar race in 2010, and started last season with a 4th in the opener.
Things have been downhill since though. Last year at Indianapolis, Simona survived this wicked crash, albeit with severe burns on her hands. Despite that, she managed to qualify on Pole Day despite the burns and driving a car so old, heavy, and slow it was nicknamed Porkchop. It showed her talent and toughness, but the rest of the year she was a non factor, particularly on ovals. This year, her struggles can be described in one word: Lotus. Her team is now the only full-time team stuck with that pig of an engine, and its lack of speed has shown in practice in a big way. Simona has quickly become a fan favorite due to her personality, talent, and cojones. The hope is if and when Lotus gets it together (or when they bail completely), she can finally get some results and fully establish a career. The worry is last year’s oval issues plus this lost year will ruin her.