Today’s question: What was your biggest takeaway from the first episode of “100 Days to Indy,” the documentary series on The CW that continues at 9 p.m. ET/PT this Thursday, May 4?
Curt Cavin: For starters, I loved having David Letterman use his star power to set the table for the show, and he, as expected, was terrific. What surprised me was how much Josef Newgarden allowed his personal life to be shown. We’ve all seen Newgarden’s outgoing side at the track, particularly in his early years and through the recent Bus Bros. video series with Scott McLaughlin, but I’d rate him as one of the two or three most private drivers in our sport (Takuma Sato is in that group). A friend of mine also noted how VICE presented Newgarden as the sport’s prince marrying the former Disney princess, and that likely resonated with casual fans. That it was the focus of the series’ first segment was well played and surely not a coincidence.
Joey Barnes: I always have this saying: If it’s raw and it’s real, then it’s relatable. And I think that is exactly what everyone watched in the opening episode with Scott McLaughlin (as with everyone else, too). The biggest thing we, in the paddock, have grown accustomed to is how easy going the New Zealander is but also how fierce he is behind the wheel, and the presentation delivery of that from in-car audio, cut scenes, interviews to the fans was as authentic as it could be, in my opinion. The biggest thing that was insightful from that aspect, to me, is how drivers wind down at the track – and in his case it was watching onboards while having “taco night” with family. The delivery from VICE Media and Penske Entertainment on McLaughlin’s story was genuine; he’s the guy that pushes to the limit, races hard but is also easy going and fun-loving as the dude you want to have a beer – or three – with. Additionally, having James Hinchcliffe there as a voice to set the tone of the sport was money. It was a proper debut for the docuseries, and it’ll be fun to see what unfolds as the episodes continue.
Paul Kelly: First things first: Anyone who says race drivers aren’t athletes after seeing this episode clearly needs a few moments to themselves. Between the intense on-track action and footage of Josef Newgarden working out in his home gym, it’s beyond obvious NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers are elite, world-class athletes. And Newgarden’s hulking, sculpted physique reminds this almost 58-year-old that I need to get in better shape! But my biggest takeaway was James Hinchcliffe’s infectious combination of current knowledge of the sport and enthusiasm during his commentary in the first episode. Hinch struck the perfect balance between being guy-next-door accessible for NTT INDYCAR SERIES newbies and detailed for an “inside baseball” look at the sport for more knowledgeable fans. It’s one of the reasons why Hinch is one of the best additions to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES TV broadcast booth in a long time. I look forward to more of his funny, yet cogent, analysis on future episodes of “100 Days to Indy.”