September 20, 2023

Lundgaard says international expansion is “important” for IndyCar

IndyCar races outside the United States for the only time this weekend with this weekend’s Honda Indy Toronto. While the event’s contract expires this year, recent signs point to a new deal that will keep Toronto on the NTT IndyCar Series calendar. to see how IndyCar continues to expand its footprint outside of the US.

“I think it’s important. Not just Toronto or Canada per se, but in my opinion we have to go to South America,” Lungaard said. more moving here and there that makes them explode a little bit just because there are more people around that are in the know that’s a problem with this race series being a national race series but at the same time we do have the best racing product in the world.

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“Because I hadn’t driven an IndyCar last year, every track was of course new. I had to understand the history of the races, the history of the tracks and all that stuff. I’m still trying to catch up on all of that, but having visited Toronto last year, it’s a beautiful city – I really love going there. My best friend will also be there for the race. He kept asking me which races to come to, and I picked a few that were better than others.

“I think that’s why it’s great that it’s on the calendar, and I actually didn’t know the contract would expire at the end of this year. I really hope they come up with something. If we have to go somewhere else in Toronto, move the track, I think I’ll vouch for that too, but [the current circuit] is definitely a cool number.

Where else does he want the series to go? The Dane admits that he would selfishly like to see a Scandinavian IndyCar race.

“I definitely think we should,” he said. ‘There’s me and Benjamin [Pedersen]. We actually have Josef [Newgarden] also, who is half-Dane. We have two Swedes. So I think we’ll have to fight over where it’s going to be!

“I know there were plans to actually build a real circuit in Denmark. I don’t know what happened to it, but that would definitely be something I would stand for and definitely push for.”

In the shorter term, however, Lundgaard sees South America as a more realistic option for international expansion.

“At the moment I don’t think it’s the right time for the series to move to Europe,” he said. “Of course now with [Agustin] Canapino, I don’t think they know if they are looking for a race in Argentina or not. That would be a starting point. We are taking it easy, but I think we definitely have to go somewhere.”

More international drivers, of course, help drive the push for international racing for IndyCar, but Lundgaard feels the rationale goes deeper than that. Motorsport images

IndyCar’s international contingent will be further bolstered in Toronto with New Zealand-based, British-born Swede Tom Blomqvist making his debut for Meyer Shank Racing, filling in for Simon Pagenaud. Lundgaard thinks the Canadian street circuit is a good place for an IndyCar premiere, especially for someone with Blomqvist’s racing resume.

“With his experience in the [IMSA] LMDh car, they run Long Beach and also run the faster racetracks and longer racetracks. I think with his experience he will be fine,” said Lundgaard. “I think he will be as competitive as the car. I think it’s a difficult circuit, but he has the experience and the talent to take his chance to use.”

Rather than a new circuit, the Dane thinks tires will be the biggest challenge for Blomqvist to overcome.

“I think it’s the difference in connections,” he said. “We all hear that when you enter a racing class with different compositions. It’s always hard to know what you have extra when you put in a softer compound.

“I think he’ll do well, but it’s a tough championship to just jump in and be competitive – even though I feel like the guys who are here now have [had] a one off race were all very competitive in their first race.

While there are clearly special circumstances surrounding Blomqvist’s performance – one Meyer Shank driver replaces another – the trend of young European racers looking to a future in IndyCar continues to pick up steam. Lundgaard thinks it’s natural word of mouth.

“When I spoke to Callum [Ilott]after I did my first [IndyCar] race in 2021 and I came back to finish my season in F2, I said I just really loved the environment of the series and everything the series does for the sport. It’s just fun. It reminds me a lot of go-karts. It’s a fun racing series, where I feel that some racing series in Europe can be very political. You get to the point where you think, ‘OK, am I really enjoying this? Is this what I really want to do?’ I’m not going to say you doubt yourself, but I think when I came here I got the spark for the sport back and made the racing fun. I would just say that this series has gotten more competitive since then, so it’s just more fun now.

Story originally appeared on Racer

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