While appearing on the CW was an immediate sign that the new IndyCar 100 Days to Indy documentary is aimed at those outside of racing as much as those in it, we still didn’t really know what to expect from the new show.
Luckily, from a lifestyle aspect, there’s so much to love in this show. 100 Days to Indy premieres tonight at 9 pm EST, but Podium Life had a sneak peek at what’s to come.
The balance any racing motion picture has to contend with is being simple and accessible to fans who know nothing about it, but also giving enough depth and insight for those that watch every race.
You aren’t going to learn anything about dampers in this show, but you are going to get an unrivalled insight into the lives of drivers that you just don’t get elsewhere.
Podium Life’s own Josef Newgarden is the first driver to be examined in-depth, as the show immediately flexes its muscles by taking you inside his home with wife, Ashley, and son, Kota.
We’re immediately posed with some of the big questions that face drivers. How do you cope with becoming a parent and keeping an edge when you have to risk your life on track? How does a relationship sustain an obsessive quest to win one race, never mind a championship, perhaps placed above all else?
These are questions rarely put to drivers but we get a first hand deep dive here in the Newgarden household.
“I also want him to extract everything he can from his career, too,” says Ashley.
“There will be a point in time where this is not all consuming and it’s not everything he thinks about. But for right now, it is.”
There’s also a brilliant story on how Newgarden’s father helped wingman Newgarden with Ashley.
Fans of Newgarden will be happy to know that his YouTube show Bus Bros also makes an appearance, and with the help of The Associated Press’s Jenna Fryer, examines the juxtaposition between drivers who are friends but also want to beat each other out on track.
Scott McLaughlin – Newgarden’s co-host on Bus Bros and his Penske teammate – is a big part of the episode as the reigning winner of the St Pete race which is featured alongside the Thermal pre-season test in terms of on-track action.
Through exchanges with his wife and parents-in-law, McLaughlin talks about how important it is for him to have family in the States as well as in his native New Zealand while having a barbecue on the Friday night before the race.
This is a key part of the lifestyle of IndyCar racing for so long. So many of the drivers have left countries thousands of miles away behind and found a home in the US. McLaughlin’s lucky he’s got the support of a new family that clearly love having him around.
Reigning Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson is another of those drivers from overseas, and his interview really shows how much the 500 means to foreign competitors as well. This can only help in showing viewers from outside of motorsport just how important the Indy 500 is.
We’re even invited into Ericsson’s St Pete hotel room for breakfast during the show.
All of these interviews humanise the drivers, show they are relatively normal people but also reflect the intensity of their ambitions, how it has affected their lifestyles either delaying or balancing family life choices or moving thousands of miles across the world in pursuit of an ultimate ambition.
That ambition is also presented in behind the scenes or private moments that might not get picked up by TV crews on race day.
“I didn’t need to do that,” curses McLaughlin after a qualifying crash, before banging his water down on the timing stand.
“The car is a credit to you guys, it really is.”
Sometimes the depiction of racing drivers is that they can be selfish and self-serving but there’s not a lot of that in IndyCar and certainly not with McLaughlin as the show proves.
There’s also the solemn face of Pato O’Ward jumping out of his car after the St Pete loss before a quick follow up where he is spraying Ericsson with champagne. There’s no time for dwelling on any moment in this championship, good or bad.
While the St Pete race is going on we’re treated to an inside look at Newgarden and McLaughlin’s wives Carly and Ashley. While watching a race live, you rarely think about what is going through the minds of those closest to the drivers and how their performances might impact the lives of those loved ones, and this is another unique insight.
Overall, 100 Days to Indy is a lifestyle gem. There’s so many instances of unique access you just don’t get elsewhere even when you speak to some of these drivers on a weekly and monthly basis.
You learn just as much about how the lives of these drivers impact those around them.
If this is a sign of things to come for the series, then those who want to learn more about the stars of the IndyCar Series need look no further.