Produced by VICE and airing on The CW, “100 Days to Indy” debuted on April 27th. The docuseries will follow the IndyCar series from before the start of this season up until the Indianapolis 500 on May 28th.
WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS.
Likely inspired by the success of Netflix’s “Drive to Survive”, the Formula 1 docuseries that aided the explosion of the series’ popularity in North America, “100 Days to Indy” was announced by Penske Entertainment in December. Many on social media praised Penske, The CW, and VICE for finally catching up with Formula 1, the PGA Tour, and other sports leagues worldwide in making a docuseries detailing the inner workings of their particular sport. Looking through Twitter after the first two episodes of the series were released, I saw mixed reviews. To see how it really is, I watched the first two episodes to see what “100 Days to Indy” is really about.
Here are my thoughts:
The first episode begins at the 100 Days to Indy party in Indianapolis in February. There, we are introduced to multiple stars of IndyCar, most notably Josef Newgarden, Scott McLaughlin, and Marcus Ericsson. I don’t mind the choice of the producers to focus on these three drivers for the first episode, as they are relevant to the series, the 500, and are marketable personalities.
While I think I saw Josef Newgarden without a shirt a few too many times, I thoroughly enjoyed the shots of him playing with his son and spending time at home with his wife, Ashley. The story of how they met was a hilariously interesting detail to add in there.
While I do wish the viewer received more background on Scott McLaughlin as they did on Newgarden, it was enjoyable in a similar way. Seeing him just hang out outside his trailer enjoying some barbeque with his wife and parents really humanized him, which is something I look for in any sports-related docuseries.
Something unexpected was the inclusion of footage and commentary on the preseason test at The Thermal Club. I applaud the producers for making that choice, although I believe they could’ve stayed on it for a few minutes longer. After that, the series dives deep into the opening race of the season at St. Petersburg.
Practice and qualifying were covered, but I think more attention should have been paid to what qualifying means, potentially capturing the essence of trying to make the fast six and trying to squeeze out every bit of speed, grip, and overall performance from one’s car. However, I think the coverage of the race itself was solid, including the focus on the crash between McLaughlin and Romain Grosjean. Scotty Mac himself actually acknowledged the series’ coverage of the incident himself in the latest episode of “Bus Bros”, his YouTube series with Penske teammate Josef Newgarden.
Overall, the first episode provided a good start for the “100 Days to Indy” series. The coverage didn’t miss much, and I agree with VICE’s choices on what to focus on with a time-limited format. Now, it is time to see if Episode 2 held up just as well.
Before I give my opinion, let me just tell you that neither VICE nor Penske Entertainment is paying me to say this. But “100 Days to Indy” is straight-up good. Before I watched these first two episodes, I feel that there was a lack of knowledge and coverage as to what was really going on within teams in the IndyCar Series.
Episode 2 begins with Pato O’Ward and his family in their native country of Mexico, with the 23-year-old describing his upbringing in racing. Again, I really enjoyed the background information, introducing viewers not only to the driver but to the driver’s family as well. The funny stories shared at the table with his family helped humanize him as well.
The series’ insight into the inner workings of teams like Andretti and McLaren is helpful. Before this, I hadn’t seen any footage inside team meetings, and getting to see that helps the viewer understand all of the work that goes into try and get a good result out of a race weekend in IndyCar.
I thought the race at Texas was covered very well in this episode. First, the episode spent a lot of time on the qualifying process, which really captured how much pressure there is when you have just two laps to determine your starting position for Sunday’s race.
The danger of ovals was emphasized as well, with shots of Pato’s family and friends being shown reacting with shock shown in between highlights of the race itself. Episode 2 certainly delivered, with full coverage of everything leading up to the Texas race, along with the race itself.
Episode 3 of “100 Days to Indy” airs tonight at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.