SAO PAULO, Brazil -- If the IZOD IndyCar Series' first trip to Brazil was meant to be an adventure, it certainly exceeded those expectations.
A slick concrete racing surface entering the first turn that many drivers likened to
That was only the beginning of the adventure as a first-lap crash saw Brazil's
That was literally the calm before the storm, as a torrential downpour soaked the track, forcing a 35-minute red-flag before the race resumed.
The racing was fast, furious and fearless and in the end,
So while the IZOD IndyCar Series features some of the fastest racing on the planet, it's time to get right into the Five Things We Learned from the experience.
There are 20 million people that live in Sao Paulo, making it one of the world's largest cities. It's like combining New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles into one massive megalopolis. A local chauffeur named
At 7 a.m., there were blocks and blocks of spectators outside of the gates waiting to get in. There were more fans lining up to get into this race six hours before the green flag than there were in attendance at last season's IndyCar finale at Homestead Miami Speedway -- for the entire weekend.
Think about the last time a massive crowd has lined up early for an IndyCar race other than the Indianapolis 500 and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. It just doesn't happen that often in the U.S. There were only 40,000 grandstand seats constructed for this race but an overflow crowd of 46,000 were in attendance, including an impressive array of 25 VIP suites filled with sponsor guests.
The electricity and atmosphere for this event was highly impressive. The largest portion of grandstands including the permanent facility used for Brazil's famous
But one Brazilian made it to the podium with
As for Patrick, she finished 15th in the 24-car field and had her share of issues, including sliding off course during the heavy rain shower that stopped the race for 35 minutes. But Patrick said after the race that she actually felt "racy" again as she has parked her NASCAR Nationwide Series Chevrolet at JR Motorsports until the June 26 race at New Hampshire International Speedway.
The facts are, IndyCar racing is what Patrick does best, even if a 15th-place finish is far less than she expected to start the season. And while she is the media darling in the United States, Patrick is considered "just another pretty face" in Brazil.
It was a total adventure to watch the IndyCar attempt to navigate the street course under caution with several cars, including Patrick's, sliding off course turning that part of the race into the
"The only shame about the whole race is that it went red for some puddles because there were a lot of big dips out there and our cars hydroplane pretty easily," said Hunter-Reay after finishing second. "It would have been great to get some good rain racing in. Maybe next year we will fill in those things and see where it goes."
When Power broke two vertebrae in his lower back in a crash during practice at Infineon Raceway in August 2009, some wondered if it might slow down his promise and potential.
Power answered that question with an impressive drive Sunday in South America.
But IndyCar still has several things that sets it apart of any other form of racing. It has speed; it has a degree of difficulty, even an element of danger.
IndyCar may not have the popularity, but it has the glamour and sexiness that make it the definition of true auto racing. What it really needs is the marketing and a chance to build a new audience for what remains an exhilarating product on the race track.
For anyone who watched Sunday's race at Sao Paulo, it was as much a "street fight" as a "street race."