The countdown to the premiere of “100 Days to Indy” is reaching its final moments, as the debut episode airs at 9 p.m. ET Thursday, April 27 on The CW Network.
The six-part docuseries that follows the NTT INDYCAR SERIES action in the buildup to the Month of May, specifically the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, is produced by VICE Media Group and Penske Entertainment. The original concept of the idea came from Bryan Terry, vice president of development for VICE Media.
Terry is the executive producer for VICE for “100 Days to Indy,” with Emmy Award winner Patrick Dimon directing. Joey Barnes of INDYCAR.com recently interviewed Terry about the making of the show and his impressions of the exciting sport of NTT INDYCAR SERIES racing.
Q: How in the world did you come up with the concept of, “Hey, let’s go chase INDYCAR SERIES cars?”
Bryan Terry: So, we knew that Indy is a huge part of the American fabric, and it's a huge tradition in American sports. What we wanted to do is really look at that as a way to tell a bigger story. So, the idea was rather than a follow documentary, like you see a lot of the other leagues do, we wanted to be more in season and take advantage of the momentum leading up to what is a huge tradition in the “500” itself.
The idea was let's have five episodes leading up to the “500,” introduce people to the characters, the teams, the traditions involved in this amazing race. Then, the final episode will then recap the “500” after the fact. And then, listen, if there's an audience there and people are excited about it, then there's potential to grow. But we felt like that was a good place to start just to take advantage of the momentum that race gives.
Q: I love the idea of how you're not sitting on footage for six months. You're sitting on it for maybe a week and you're literally cutting as you’re filming, right?
Terry: Yeah. I say this as I look at some of my crew, they hate me for this, but that was a part of it. I'm a huge fan of “Hard Knocks” (longtime NFL team training camp documentary series) and love the way that as a fan of the team or as a fan of the sport, you can watch “Hard Knocks” and actually learn, and you have some insight of like, ‘OK, this guy's challenging for position.’ We really hope to provide some of that context this year to this race, to this series, is that you'll watch what happens. You know, episode one, down in St. Pete, and understand how that then affects what happens in Race Two down in Texas.
And then how that plays out to, ‘Oh, man, is Pato (O’Ward) going to finally break through and not finish second this week in Long Beach?’ So, for us, that's what's most exciting is racing is a living, breathing sport, and the fact that we get to be a part of that cycle is super exciting.
Q: Did you know much about INDYCAR SERIES racing or were you a fan growing up?
Terry: My mom is an Indianapolis native and grew up in Indianapolis. So, I have lot of relatives who grew up going to the “500.” My mom grew up going to the “500.” The “500,” for me, was always a tradition in the house, more through television or on the radio if we were driving somewhere over Memorial Day. But it's a huge part of it, of my growing up, is just a familiarity with that being a huge deal. People taking off school, and my mom talks about it like going to the Super Bowl every year.
Q: What’s been the biggest surprise to you now that you’ve been ingrained in this for the last few months?
Terry: I think the biggest surprise is sort of the fraternity of it. And I guess it makes sense in that this is like a traveling circus. It's a huge group of men and women who travel around the country together. There is a camaraderie there that exists off the track. So, while everybody is trying to beat the hell out of each other once they're racing, the respect, camaraderie and the overall sort of community feeling that you get is pretty cool and special.
Q: Without giving any spoilers away, who do you look at and your like, ‘Oh, man, the people are going to fall in love with that guy?’
Terry: Pato O’Ward is a star. What you want out of a race car driver, he is personified, Pato O’Ward. There's just this arrogance and brashness, and I think there's certainly a… he is naïve. How young he is, there's a fearlessness to that, which you want to see in a race car driver, right? So, Pato is a guy who I think just jumps off and lives a life that I think a lot of people would envy. The kid grew up with every toy imaginable in Mexico. That's an aspirational thing that you just don't see every day. We would all love that. Then, I would say, too, is Scott McLaughlin for various reasons. (Note: not revealed to limit spoilers).
Q: What do you look forward to the most about the Month of May in Indianapolis when you're filming the climactic episodes of the show?
Terry: In the Month of May, we're going to be spending a ton of time in Indianapolis because that's our chance to tell some of the stories off track within the community. Whether it's some of the people who've been going to the race as a family for generations or the local business that understands that is their time to put on their hosting hat and really roll out the red carpet; a place like Charlie Brown's (restaurant on Main Street in Speedway, Indiana) or something like that. That, from a storytelling perspective, is what we look forward to. But then logistically, the closer we get to the “500,” the less time we have to turn these episodes around. So, I also know that May is not going to be a time of a lot of sleep. Now you see our crew, we're bouncing around and smiling. I have a feeling by the end of May, we're going to kind of look like Lazarus with long hair and a little zombie-esque. But yeah, it's going to be a lot of tight turnarounds.
Q: What preconceived notion did you have about motor racing in general, and INDYCAR SERIES racing specifically, that was destroyed quickly once you started filming and getting to know these guys?
Terry: I had pretty good feelings coming in. I mean, it's race cars. It's beautiful; some of the most beautiful engineering and design in the world going 200-plus miles an hour. From a video television standpoint, it's hard to mess that part up. So, we knew that was going to happen and then also because of things like “Drive to Survive” in all these other docs, it's a part of kind of being a pro athlete now. We also knew from the driver’s standpoint, there was probably a willingness to open up the doors a little bit and pull back some curtains because it is just what the fan expects now in modern sport. For us, we knew it would take a minute to gain people's trust, so maybe if there is a surprise, it was just how quickly people got onboard and said, ‘All right, we trust you, we want you around.’ Now that they're seeing the episodes, hopefully they understand this isn't a bad thing. This is hopefully, a good thing.
Q: What do you hope people take from this docuseries?
Terry: I just really hope it's a chance for people to understand the characters behind the wheel. And understand there are some superheroes doing some absolutely spectacular things, but outside of their job, they are motivated human beings like the rest of us, and scared, brave and have their own things.
I think what we're hoping is just to understand the stories in the context of what motivates these people, because I think that's something else. That's been a little bit of a surprise is whether you're Roger Penske, Chip Ganassi or Zak Brown or other owners, those guys are all motivated by different things. Motivated to the highest level and want to perform at the premium and peak levels but have different reasons of why they want to get there. That's kind of cool to see as a fan because then you're sitting there and being like: ‘Oh, I love the brash, young bravado of Pato O’Ward. I love the precision of Marcus Ericsson. I love the fearlessness and aggressiveness of Scotty Mac.’ I think that's what you're hoping for, is that by exposing a little bit of the characters, the fans can create a deeper connection and really have more of a rooting interest because maybe they see a little bit of themselves in one of these drivers.