For all of the hand-wringing over starting the 2010 Izod IndyCar season outside of America, Brazil proved to be one of the most intriguing and fun circuits the IndyCar Series has rolled out in years.
You had it all in the São Paulo Indy 300 - a Carnival-like atmosphere in the crowd, a ridiculous start (complete with clown music), passes for the lead (that happens on road/street circuits?), gaffes, late passes for the lead (again, this happens?) and comeback stories galore. Again, what's not to like about Brazil?
Even with torrential rain hitting the course midway through the race (it was like being in Florida in the summer, for comparison sake), the fans at the track remained and stuck it out as the sun quickly reemerged and the cars went through roughly a 30-minute delay.
You had action up front early in the race, as a massive chain-reaction wreck claimed a few cars and sent more into the pits, including the eventual race winner.
And as for Mr. Power, he not only came back from a cut tire, he came back from a broken back suffered last August.
The man he passed with 2 laps to go, Ryan Hunter-Reay, was coming back from a lost season hovering from Vision Racing (where he took second in his debut) to A.J. Foyt Racing. Again, he impressed, and satisfied the lust for American drivers to succeed in the sport.
To cap off the day, Vitor Meira, coming back from a broken back, made a late pass to claim third, and give the Brazilian fans another reason to cheer.
And before all of that, the leader forgot to turn - turn right in this case. Ryan Briscoe, who missed out on a potential championship when his car took an inadvertent left out of the pits last year, locked up his brakes late in the race and missed the turn, allowing Hunter-Reay to re-inherit the lead.
The course was racy - especially for one designed in under 4 months. Yes, there were issues leading up to the drop of the green flag, including the need to grind the track less than 24 hours before the race. But let's give some credit to Tony Cotman and NZR Consulting, who created an exciting track with plenty of opportunities to pass, and then, made the Sambodromo work by grinding it down.
While this caused dust at the start, some smarter driving could have alleviated some of the problems, which stemmed from some drivers entering the first corner with far too much speed and having to check up (which, believe it or not, caused other drivers to run into the backs of those cars).
(And let's just say that I don't think the Andretti and Moraes families will be exchanging Christmas cards anytime soon. When you wreck on the first lap of the Indianapolis 500 and then, 10 months later, land a car on Marco's head, I can understand why.)
All in all, Brazil proved to be a winner - from the crowd to the race. With the potential it shows, the 2011 São Paulo Indy 300 is already becoming one of the races that will be circled on the calendar when the future schedule is announced.