The call it the greatest spectacle in motorsport, but when the field of 33 drivers takes the start for the Indianapolis 500 on May 30th it will not be easy to watch them on television in the UK.
According to the series website, the race will be televised by two stations available in this country – Sky and the American services network AFN. Since AFN is, for obvious reasons, not the most accessible of stations for most Brits that’s generally going to mean Sky Sports 4 from 5.30pm.
But if you’ve resisted the lure of Murdoch’s empire and don’t have access to the right bit of Sky, you can still watch the race on the IndyCar Series website, in a section they call Race Control. You’ll need to sign up for a free membership, but our experience here at BritsOnPole is that it’s painless and spam-free.
Both live streaming video and a timing/scoring screen are available – if you open both at the same time in different browser tabs or windows then you’ll need to switch the sound off from one of them as there’s usually a fraction of a second lag between the two.
This is one of a number of niggling irritations that you don’t get with some other live racing feeds, for example Superleague Formula’s, or the one put out by A1GP during its final season, both of which rival TV broadcasts.
The IndyCar stream’s commentary comes from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway radio network, complete with irritating public service ads, while the pictures are at the mercy of the circuit’s facilities and lack a producer picking the best shots – last year, for some road courses, that meant a camera in a helicopter fixed on the leader far below.
Based on the pictures from this year’s qualifying there are no shortage of cameras and excellent coverage of the track, but there’s no escaping from the frustration of the radio commentators describing action that the pictures fail to pick up, or some thrilling on-track scene playing out to the sounds of an advert urging you to improve your prospects by joining the National Guard.
And it’s a very rare day when the commentary, the pictures and the live timing screen are properly synchronised.
Nevertheless, for all the difficulties, what’s offered is plenty good enough to watch the race – and far more use than anything Formula One makes available.