The Apex Is Back With a Refined Approach

Josef Newgarden competing in the 2022 Detroit Grand Prix

Will James Hinchcliffe have a Chevrolet engine behind him next year? Should IndyCar adopt a virtual safety car? Will the single-source hybrid system in the new engines be enough to attract new manufacturers in 2022?

And how will former Indy NXT rivals Colton Herta and Pato O’Ward compare now that they both have full-time seats at well-funded teams?

These questions and concepts drove our thinking and writing on The Apex as 2019 became 2020 and a new racing season began to dawn.

I returned to St. Petersburg, Florida, in March 2020, thinking I’d do it again. I’d attend every race I could and continue shaping a unique content strategy on The Apex. In fact, on the eve of the planned start of the 2020 season, I sat a stone’s throw from Turn 10 of the St. Petersburg street circuit and finalized a new design for the website and a fresh approach to our writing.

We all had different assumptions about how 2020 would go, so that’s as indulgent as I’ll be. My point is: The topics a publication like The Apex might endeavor to write about have changed over the last few years.

Nowadays, prevailing subjects include:

  • Arrow McLaren SP becoming a three-car team
  • A fresh wave of frontrunning drivers, including Pato O’Ward, Marcus Ericsson, Romain Grosjean, and others — each with a unique background
  • A new street circuit in the Motor City
  • The introduction of hybrid technology and a new engine formula, with continually revised timelines and multi-faceted impacts

The catalyst arrived in mid-2022, but the time seems right to explore interesting IndyCar stuff again on The Apex. Admittedly, it’s quite a reversal after three years of general inactivity here, but here’s the why — and how.

I followed IndyCar from a distance since the pandemic’s start. So a particular effect was predictable when I closely followed last year’s Indianapolis 500. Pair that with a bittersweet farewell to my favorite racetrack a week later in Detroit, and my mind was off to the races.

Will Power races in the 2022 Detroit Grand Prix IndyCar race
The thrilling conclusion to IndyCar’s final race on Detroit’s Belle Isle deserved a deep-dive article. | Karl Zemlin/Penske Entertainment

After both Indianapolis and Detroit, I quickly realized there needed to be more thorough written content to turn to online to augment my experience once the cars left the racetrack. Unfortunately, my reignited interest in IndyCar meant I read brief seven-paragraph articles, even days after the race.

They all go like this: A few paragraphs providing immediate context, a simple sentence to set up the article’s primary purpose, and — here it comes — a few lines of quotes (poorly) transcribed from the telecast.

I can’t be alone in wanting more.

Writing engaging articles in the hours following on-track action takes a lot of work. I’ve been in media centers until very late attempting it. Plus, knee-jerk, quick-hit pieces have their place — particularly for publishers incentivized to collect page views and advertising dollars.

Unfortunately, after the Indy 500 and the final edition of the Belle Isle race, where all of this started for me in 2007, I wanted something that didn’t exist. There’s a cliche somewhere about creating the product you want if it doesn’t exist. Besides, The Apex is uniquely positioned to offer it.

Other publications don’t seem to consider why they do what they do. That’s great that Driver A set the fastest lap in a practice session, but what should I do with that information on a Saturday morning — even if I’m a core fan? The finish to that race was exhilarating, but how exactly did Driver B get the best of Driver C in those final laps? And congratulations to Team Z for going public with Driver D’s contract extension, but I’ve already read your reporting and knew this was coming for weeks — can’t you tell me more?

Alexander Rossi at a press conference with Arrow McLaren SP team
The Rossi-to-McLaren cat came out of the papaya-colored bag, but where was an article for fans wanting to take the headline further? | Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment

The Slow Journalism Company says, “Modern news production is filled to the brim with reprinted press releases, knee-jerk punditry, advertorial nonsense and churnalism.” Unfortunately, online coverage of racing has yet to escape this.

There’s an approach that motorsports news websites aren’t bothering with. Publications would better serve fans and the industry if they published only profoundly thoughtful “slow journalism” pieces. I believe in quality over quantity, as it applies to motorsports journalism.

With that said, The Apex will always be a side project. As such, we must be reasonable with the resources we direct here, including time. To best serve readers and ensure consistency, The Apex will publish one weekly article in addition to Ben’s Race Reports.

Sometimes we’ll cover a highly relevant, timely topic; other times, we’ll dive into something more general, but we’ll always aim for exceptional and exemplary.

There needs to be more to solve the issue of having something to read right after a race. Still, we aim to craft something that enhances your experience following IndyCar. No ads, no fluff, and no hurriedly published seven-paragraph articles that don’t say much. Just one thoughtful piece a week.

While The Apex steadily evolved from 2015 onward to be the only motorsports website thinking differently, it wasn’t as clear to me previously how underserved IndyCar fans are. So let’s see what we can come up with, one week at a time.

A few things are certain: We won’t rush to publish recaps, rewrite press releases, or transcribe quotes from TV interviews.