IndyCar. The very word brings stars and stripes to mind. IndyCar racing is an iconic American sport with a complicated and fascinating history. However, many new fans may wonder if IndyCar is only in America, or if the sport has any international races.
IndyCar is only in America with the exception of one race – The Honda Indy Toronto – which takes place in Canada. This race was on hiatus for 2020 and 2021 but is on the schedule for 2022. IndyCar racing is broadcast and enjoyed internationally and it involves non-American drivers.
While IndyCar remains largely an American experience, it has extended its reach beyond the borders of the US and has sustained interest with an international fanbase. Below, we’ll go into the details of the international races and drivers that have fueled this international following.
Does IndyCar Race Outside Of America?
IndyCar does race outside of America in one championship event only. The 2022 championship racing schedule indicates a single race in Toronto, Canada amidst 16 other races all taking place on American soil.
IndyCar Race Schedule For 2022
The IndyCar race schedule for 2022 is as follows:
- 27 Feb – St Petersburg (street circuit)
- 20 Mar – Texas Motor Speedway (oval)
- 10 April – Long Beach (street circuit)
- 1 May – Barber Motorsports Park (road course)
- 14 May – Indianapolis (Grand Prix Race 1 – road course)
- 29 May – Indianapolis (Indy 500 – oval)
- 5 June – Belle Isle (street circuit)
- 12 June – Road America (road course)
- 3 July – Mid-Ohio (road course)
- 17 July – Toronto, Canada (street circuit)
- 23 July – Iowa (Race 1 – oval)
- 24 July – Iowa (Race 2 – oval)
- 30 July – Indianapolis (Grand Prix Race 2 – road course)
- 7 Aug – Nashville (street circuit)
- 20 Aug – World Wide Technology Raceway (Gateway) (oval)
- 4 Sep – Portland (road course)
- 11 Sep – Laguna Seca (road course)
Does IndyCar Race In Canada?
IndyCar does race in Canada once per season. The event was initially named the Molson Indy Toronto (1986-2007). Now named the Honda Indy Toronto, this massively popular street circuit near the shore of Lake Ontario in Toronto, Canada has been an annual race since 1986.
Since the event began, there have only been three years when it did not take place. In 2008, with the merge of the IndyCar Racing League and Champ Car, uncertainty regarding the sponsorship of the race resulted in it being cancelled. Then in 2020 and 2021, due to the global COVID-19 pandemic and legislation banning the gathering of crowds in Canada, the race was understandably cancelled.
Other Canadian IndyCar Races
Considering the various series that preceded modern IndyCar racing, there have historically been races at six other Canadian circuits.
In 1967, Canada’s very first IndyCar race, The Telegram Trophy 200, was held at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (Mosport Park) as part of the USAC (United States Auto Club) Championship Car Season. The event was repeated in 1968 and then in ’77 and ‘78 the Molson Diamond Indy took place at this circuit.
In 1967 and 1968, the Mont-Tremblant Champ Car Grand Prix was held, and then again in 2007 as part of the Champ Car World Series.
From 1984-1986, the Grand Prix of Montreal, also known as the Molson Indy Montreal, was held at the Sanair Speedway, and was part of the CART Indy Car World Series. Later, from 2002-2006, The Grand Prix of Montreal took place the at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve as part of the Champ Car World Series.
Champ Car also included the Molson Indy Vancouver from 1990-2004. The seventh Canadian circuit that has hosted an IndyCar race is at Edmonton. The Edmonton Indy took place from 2005-2012.
Is IndyCar International?
IndyCar is technically international. IndyCar and its preceding series have crossed a few international borders over the years. While these races haven’t usually been part of the championship, they have still technically counted as occasions on which IndyCar races took place outside America.
South American IndyCar Races
In 1971, in Argentina, IndyCar graced South America for the first time. The Rafaela Indy 300 became the first USAC championship race to take place off American soil. The race took place at the large oval Autodromo circuit. USAC decided to make this race count for points to force the cooperation of the top drivers who were reluctant to participate. This decision wasn’t popular.
In 1980 in Mexico, the Gran Premio Decate Race was held for the first time as part of the CART PPG Indy Car World Series as the penultimate round of the season. It was repeated in 1981 and then reinstated from 2002-2007, when it featured as the last race of each championship season. In Brazil, from 1996-2000, The Rio 200 took place as a CART sanctioned event.
British IndyCar Races
In England in 1978, two USAC championship Indy Car events took place. The Daily Express Indy Silverstone took place at The Silverstone circuit, the home of British racing, and the London Champ Car Trophy at the Brands Hatch circuit.
In 2001 and 2002, the Rockingham 500 took place at the newly built Rockingham Motor Speedway oval track. Due to drainage issues, a loss of interest, and financial constraints, the race was moved to the Brands Hatch circuit the following year and named the London Champ Car Trophy.
The London Champ Car Trophy event took place again in 2003, sanctioned by CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams), as part of their plan to distance themselves from the IRL (Indy Racing League) by including more international races in their program.
European IndyCar Races
In Italy in 1957 and 1958, The Race of Two Worlds, or The 500 Miglia di Monza, took place. These non-championship races were held to showcase the open-wheel racing cars of USAC against the F1 racing cars in Europe. The race lost the support of the F1 teams due to safety concerns and wasn’t repeated.
In 2001, CART sanctioned the German 500 and brought IndyCar to Germany for the first time. This was CART’s first European race. It was notorious for the crash that resulted in Alex Zanardi losing both legs and for running only four days after the 9/11 terror attacks.
CART’s successor, Champ Car, continued its quest to expand internationally by bringing Indy to Belgium in 2007 with The Belgian Champ Car Grand Prix at Zolder. The Netherlands was another example of Champ Car growing its reach in Europe in 2007 with the Bavaria Champ Car Grand Prix at the Assen circuit.
In Japan in 1966, a non-championship exhibition race, the Indy 200, took place at the newly built Fuji Speedway at the base of Mount Fuji. USAC did not repeat the event.
In 1991, IndyCar racing went down under when Australia hosted the Gold Coast Indy 300. This event is an iconic part of Indy history as it marked the first CART Indy Car World Series international race.
This street race took place every year from 1991-2007. Even though CART split from the IRL in 1996, the race was still sanctioned by the organization until 2003. Then CART’s successor, Champ Car, continued to support the event from 2004-2007. Second only to the Honda Indy Toronto, with a total of 18 races, this event was the longest running international Indy Car event.
International Races Halted
When the IRL and Champ Car leagues merged in 2008, IndyCar narrowed its focus and returned to being solely based in the US. The last international race outside of Canada was the Sao Paulo Indy 300 on a temporary street circuit. The race was held from 2010 to 2013.
Broadcasting and the internet have allowed fans from all over the globe to access IndyCar races. With a significant number of foreign drivers at the wheel, international interest in IndyCar is growing, especially in Europe. While there are currently no plans to hold international IndyCar events in countries other than Canada, it wouldn’t be surprising if an international race was announced in the future.
Successful Non-American IndyCar Drivers
Although IndyCar predominantly takes place in America and has the bulk of its fanbase in the country, its prestige and excitement has historically attracted many drivers from other countries around the world. In recent seasons, as much as half of the full-time drivers were from countries other than the USA.
Below is a selection of some of the most successful and well-known international drivers throughout the iterations of the IndyCar series.
Scott Dixon (New Zealand)
He is the third most successful driver (in terms of race wins) in IndyCar of all time, behind only A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti. He is a six-time champion, spanning 17 years between his first and his latest championship, and is an Indy 500 winner (2008).
Sébastien Bourdais (France)
Sébastien Bourdais won four consecutive titles in the Champ Car World Series from 2003 to 2007. He ranks highly on the list of all-time successful drivers in American open-wheel racing, with 37 race wins over his career.
Dario Franchitti (Great Britain)
In the six years from 2007 to 2012, Dario Franchitti won the IndyCar championship four times (three of those in consecutive years) and won the iconic Indy 500 three times (being only the second person from Scotland to win the Indy 500, following Jim Clark).
Hélio Castroneves (Brazil)
Castroneves equaled the record for the most wins at the Indy 500 in 2021, with four in total. He took victory at the 2021 event, twenty years after his first Indy 500 win. He has never won the championship but has been runner-up in four seasons.
Takuma Sato (Japan)
In 2020, Takuma Sato won his second Indy 500. That was his sixth IndyCar race win. His success is one of the reasons that IndyCar still enjoys such popularity in Japan.
IndyCar races mostly in America, but the series has regularly raced in Canada, and continues to do so. However, championship races have been held in a number of international locations over the years, and there have been many international non-championship races too.
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