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IndyCar news | Drivers wary of social media backlash docuseries might create

IndyCar Series regular Conor Daly says drivers have to get “uncomfortable” in its new docuseries despite potential social media vitriol.

A new six-part series, 100 Days To Indy, will follow the category and its stars as they prepare for the 107th running of the Indianapolis 500.

It follows a growing trend of docuseries which have provided some sports with significant growth in popularity.

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IndyCar is hoping to see the same kind of interest spikes around the regular season.

Already, the series boasts the highest-attended, single-day sporting fixture in the world with the Indianapolis 500, which attracts around 300,000 people on race day.

Speaking at pre-season testing, Daly said drivers have to get used to having cameras in their face and showing their emotions.

He explained that he would rather have social media be ablaze with “crazy” conversations than have no one talking about the sport at all.

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“It’s important to just be honest like right after races too,” he explained.

“I told the producers and the director, ‘Really get in our faces right after the races’. That’s when we really will be honest about what happened or what’s going on or who did what to who.

“For sure, a lot of us do get along. Honestly, on track, a lot of those friendships go out the window. There are people that you can trust, I would say. 

“I would say friendships are irrelevant on track, but trust is definitely something that you do have more with some than others.

“Talk about that, you know what I mean? Talk about who you trust and talk about who you don’t. I think that’s something people would really want to see.

“Honestly, it’s uncomfortable I guess to be generating that type of chatter between drivers.

“There are some fans and people that support some drivers more than others. If there is something said about that driver that they support, then they will come after you.

“But honestly, good. What’s happening on F1 and NASCAR Twitter is very aggressive and very angry and very crazy at times, but it is people talking about it, so that’s good. 

“The more talk the better. If it causes a conversation, great.”

Series veteran Tony Kanaan, who won the 2013 Indianapolis 500, warned of the effect a polarising docuseries could have on social media.

“You’ve got to be so careful what you say, what you do, how people are judging you,” he said.

“Social media just hammers you all the time.

“To be a good one I think we’re going to have to just be honest, and I think we’ve seen other examples of other reality shows where you can still show controversy. 

“You can still show that we don’t all love each other. Some guys out there, we definitely don’t like each other, and it’s fine.

“Everybody knows the story between Helio (Castroneves) and I. We’ve been going on since ’88 and we didn’t speak for four years.

“That wasn’t a secret. We kept it honest, and we actually did not like each other then.

“I think it’s on the producers and on the series as well to put the pressure saying, ‘Guys, this is not a movie, this is a reality show, so be real’.”

Two-time series winner Josef Newgarden echoed that sentiment.

He admitted that while he can be a bit “vanilla” at times, there are drivers and rivalries that exist that make for great viewing.

“I think it’s critical that they capture more of the emotion of the sport,” he said.

“You just got to be invested. You got to be invested in the people. You got to be interested. You either got to hate ’em or you got to love ’em. I think that’s a great way to put it.

“People you just don’t care about, that are too vanilla, what does that do for you? Fans got to love you or they got to hate you. 

“That’s what makes it fun and engaging. I hope that we can get more of that in this series.

“There are really great personalities, there are. I don’t know that I just want to say that to try to help sell our sport. It’s the truth. 

“I think a lot of people in the know, inside the paddock, they see it. They know there are fun personalities here.”

The IndyCar Series season opener takes place on March 6 on the streets of St Petersburg.

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