Review of IndyCar – The Required Season Companion

I am a big racing fan. Each Fall, usually in October and November my sports watching goes to nearly zero. Baseball and racing are done until March the next year. One series I love to watch is IndyCar. The US-based open wheel series has struggled for many years but competition is better now than it has been for decades. New aero packages after the death of Dan Wheldon in 2012 (which, ironically, he was testing for the league during the 2011 season) have tightened up the racing and with F1 winner Juan Montoya returning last year (and winning the Indy 500), the 2016 is shaping up to be one of the best.

Along the way, IndyCar has done a great job of continually improving their app for Android.  The app, designed for both Android phones and tablets, brings all of the season information as well as news and highlights from your favorite driver and team.  While the 2015 version of the app was solid, the recently released 2016 version has built upon that platform.  There is a huge amount of information on the series, teams and drivers to be found in the app which will keep you completely up-to-date with all the happenings of the series.  If you like the IndyCar series, this app is really a must have for you.  It is on par with having MLB at Bat for baseball fans.  It’s essential and dare I say a required download.

The app itself is a small download at only 55MB and it is compatible with both Android phones and tablets.  When you start the app, you’ll go through a wizard that allows you to select your favorite driver as well as your favorite team.  You can select one of each so they really mean your favorite driver.  The selection of these favorites tailors the app to give you information that you are likely going to be more interested in reading or viewing.  You can also setup the app to give you notifications about your favorite team and driver along with race starts, results and other news.

IndyCar for Android Home
IndyCar for Android Home

Once your favorites are selected, you are taken to the home screen of the app which will provide you the current driver standings along with videos and other highlights from events going on in the league and its drivers.  With pre-season testing already underway, you’ll see information related to those test results and other news.  In the upper right corner you will see a racing helmet icon which you can tap on to give you immediate stats an information related to your favorite driver or team.  The stats will not only cover what that driver has done in the 2016 season but also gives you lifetime stats and a small biographical update on them.

Off of the main menu of the IndyCar app is where you will find more specific media related to the series and drivers.  For example, you can see all of the videos that are available in the Video section, the News section gives you the latest news from around the series while the Social tab gives you posts on social networks from the series. This tab is actually quite handy if you want to follow a driver on Twitter but don’t know their handle as the series often retweets drivers.

As the name suggests, the Photos tab gives you the latest photos from the series, your favorite team or driver, as well as past series events. This year is the 100th running of the Indy 500 so for the 2016 season you will see a lot of photos to celebrate the event. Many of the drivers will have special liveries for the race and photos of those can be found in this section of the IndyCar app.  Finally there is the Podcast section which is where you can download casts from the series including Indycar

IndyCar Series Photos
IndyCar Series Photos

Radio which will give you the radio broadcast of past events.  This is a great way to hear the play-by-play if you couldn’t watch the even live.

IndyCar 2016 Season

Perhaps the biggest part of the IndyCar app is the sections related to this upcoming 2016.  Fan will know that the season kicks off on March 13th in St. Petersburg, Florida but for those new to the series or those who want more information, this is the part of the app that will make you smile.  First, and maybe the most important week-to-week, is the scheduled races.  In all there are 16 races scheduled for this year with the Indy 500 on May 29th, the Detroit Dual races June 4th & 5th, and the return to Road America in Wisconsin on June 26th.  The Races page gives you vital information including the dates and times of the event, the venue, and the broadcast partners for that event (IndyCar Radio always broadcasts but TV cover will switch between NBC SN and ABC).  Tapping on a particular race will give you a track map, a course description and the racing schedule for that weekend.  Each track also has a high resolution image of the map with grandstand locations and other key information that you can zoom in on within the app.  You can also see previous winners of an event and media information like stories, photos and videos from previous events.

Next are the current standings in the 2016 IndyCar season.  You can see five different standings throughout the season:

  • Championship Standings:  Driver standings throughout the season with their Wins, Poles and Points

    Track & Event Details in IndyCar App for Android
    Track & Event Details in IndyCar App for Android
  • Sunoco Rookie Standings:  The top performing rookie in the 2016 season
  • Verizon P1 Standings:  The number of pole positions (P1) that the drivers have achieved throughout the season
  • Manufacturers Standings:  The point total for the different manufactures in the series – Honda and Chevrolet
  • Tag Heuer Standings:  The aware for the driver who has the most passes throughout the 2016 seasons.  Sometimes referred to as the “Don’t Crack Under Pressure” award.

The Driver and Teams of the season section, as the names suggest, show you information about a particular driver or team.  The driver page I somewhat covered at the beginning of this review but one note is if you want to follow a driver on Twitter, there is a link to their profile on this page.  On the team page, you will see all of the drivers for a particular team as well as some biographical information.  If there is an area of the app I would like to see more information, it is the team page.  None of the team stats are listed including things like championships won or Indy 500 wins.  For hardcore fans, this kind of information is gold for them and I think the app is missing something here for those fans.

IndyCar Live Race Center

Driver Information in IndyCar
Driver Information in IndyCar

On race day, the Live Race Center is where you will want to be.  Here you can get the live leader board, the points standings as they run on track and live weather information.  If you are a Verizon customer (the series main sponsor) you get the added features of live radio broadcasts of the event, live cameras including live streaming for various cards in the field and a 3D track view.

This is the double-edge sword for IndyCar in the app.  On one hand they have a title sponsor and customers of that title sponsor get preferential treatment.  I totally get that and understand the economics of it.  Racing is expensive and sponsoring races is expensive too.  But is this enough to make people switch their carrier to Verizon just to get this live information?  Probably not.  I grew up watching IndyCar (and previously CART) and have attended dozens of races in my life.  But the inability to access these live features doesn’t compel me in the slights to move from Project Fi to Verizon.  If anything, it is just a frustration.

While this is probably over simplistic and given I have no idea what the terms of the contract is with Verizon, it would be great to see IndyCar open this feature up as a pay-for-feature for those of us who want to pay $2.99 a month throughout the season to get this information in the race.  I, for one, would be willing to do that happily throughout the season for these added features.

I am writing this review prior to the start of the 2016 season so I don’t have any screenshots to share of this section during a race.

Conclusion

While there are some areas of the IndyCar app for Android that could be improved, overall it is a solid app that represents the US-based open wheel series well.  There is a wealth of information about the season, the drivers and it is easy to follow your favorite drivers within the app or on social media.  There are certainly areas the app could improve like providing more team information or team history, as well as a pay-to-play model for the live race features that only Verizon customers get today.  Still, if you are a big fan of the series, this is an app you will want to have by you when you are watching on TV or at the track.

The IndyCar app for Android is a free download and has been updated for the 2016 season.  You can download it in the Google Play Store