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Do Indy Cars Have a Reverse?


As you watch the race from start to finish during an Indy car race, you may wonder if these cars have a reverse. The reasons are that you can only see them driving forward at a very high speed.

The answer is yes; Indy cars do have a reverse. Even though they have a reverse, it is not always advisable to engage the reverse, especially when racing.

Go through this article and find out more about this question.

Why Do Indy Cars Have a Reverse Gear at All?

Surprisingly, Indy cars do have a reverse. Possibly you can watch a race series from start to finish, and you will not see any indy car go in reverse. Since the Indy cars don’t go in reverse, you may ask why to include it in the engine.

Indy race cars on the track

The reason is referring to section 9.7 of the regulation. It states that “All cars must have a reverse and should be usable by the driver at all times during the event”

It is important to know that most of the sanctioning or governing bodies of open-wheel car racing make it mandatory for the drivers not to engage the cars in reverse.

Why Don’t Indy Cars Engage in a Reverse?

Like the formula one racing cars, Indy cars have a reverse gear. It is rare to see an Indy car driver put into reverse gear. Some of the reasons why the Indy cars don’t engage in reverse are;

Engaging in a reverse gear makes the transmission of the forward gear to the backward gear a lot more fragile. Since for you to engage in reverse, you have to stop the car before engaging in reverse. Talking about Indy cars, they are no exception. Indy cars are racing cars, and so when on the oval track, the main objective is to drive forward at an extremely high speed and get to the finishing line. There is no need to slow the car and engage in a backward drive since this will waste time.

  • Another reason why Indy cars don’t engage a reverse is that damaging the transmission in the shifting in and out of the reverse process, as the car must be at a standstill while shifting the gear to reverse to get into completion. On the other hand, it goes the same for shifting out of reverse to forward.
  • Some sanctioning bodies have specifically forbidden the usage of reverse gear for safety reasons.

Other Reasons

  • Reversing an Indy car on the track is illegal because it can lead to serious accidents. When watching a race, you can see avoidable accidents caused by drivers crashing and rejoining the track. Imagine, in this case, the drivers engage in reverse.

When a driver misses the track, he can only wait for the track to clear before he enters the track and continues driving. Couple with this, the drivers could spin the car around to get on the track.

  • An Indy car is not designed with rear-view mirrors. Equally, they put on protective headgear, so a driver doesn’t know the direction where he is going when reversing. Most often, you will see stewards help push the car into the track or to the pit stop, like in the case of F1 cars. Moreover, the steering wheel of this car is very sensitive, like in the case of F1. Therefore, it is easy for a driver to go in the wrong direction.
  • There are instances where drivers have reversed into the track and obstructed other racing cars, like in the case of F1, and were given penalties or disqualified from the race.

The History of Indy Cars

Indy cars got their name from the cars competing in the United States Auto Club (USAC) racing car championship. This championship is only for the open-wheel auto racing cars like the Indy cars. The main event back then was called the Indy 500. In addition, this championship has an American-based auto racing sanctioning body named Indycar, LLC. This body sanctions all open-wheel racing series, including the Indy car racing series.

This racing series is a motorsport that started way back in the 1970s. The Indy light series was the racing car at that time. Since then, it has had several different forms, like the Indy pro-2000, Indy 500, etc. From that time to 1996 and from 1996 till date, it has existed in its current form, the Indycar.

These races used to be going on, on ovals only. Later on, the championship was also run on roads and streets.

What Is an Indy Car?

Indy cars are open four wheels single-seater cars participating in an Indycar race. These cars’ formation concerns the race series, and using them for any other purpose is absurd.

These cars have a V6 engine with a 2.2-liters and have a twin-turbocharging system. These vehicles equally have six forward driving gears and one reverse gear. With all this, they have between 550 – 700 horsepower.

Equally, you can engage and overtake in a race with an extra push of the pass button, which gives the Indy car an additional 40 horsepower to overtake other racing drivers.

In addition, these Indy cars run on oval tracks giving them the freedom to run at extremely high speeds. This high speed can go up to about 230 mph. One of the best-known oval tracks is in Indianapolis, hosting the legendary Indy500.

Where Can You Find These Indy Cars?

The design of these Indy cars is for the racing series only. Seeing these Indy cars are mostly on American soil and in Canada. Even though it is possible to see these cars in other parts of the world like Japan, Australia, and Brazil, they compete in professional automobile races across these countries.

However, the main racing events occur in America and one in Canada. So those that you see in other parts of the world don’t participate in the regular season. This event usually starts in March and ends in September.

What Happens During an Indy Car Racing Series?

During the racing series of Indy cars, Indy cars movetothe grid line for a start. For the race to begin, up to 33 cars are positioned on the starting grid. When the race starts, the drivers go for a few parade laps. The positioning of the indicatorsis usually behind a safety car and by maintaining their order.

Honda Indy car racing event

Then the safety car will signal that the race is about to start. The drivers with their cars will take a rolling start as they take off, crossing the starting line. From there, it is the choice of the drivers to go at top speed as fast as possible.

Again, within the race, there is a flag system. The system has three different red, yellow, and green flags. Each of the flags has its function.

Using the green is to signal the drivers in the race to start. The yellow tells the drivers that there is a problem for them to slow down. The red signals that they have come to an end of the race.

More so, during the race, drivers do make several stops at the pits.These pit stops are to change the tires on the car and refuel. The changing of tires and fuelusually takes a maximum of 10 seconds.

The changing of tires and fuel is only in the hands of maximally six mechanics on the pits. Each of them has the task of changing everything as fast as possible. This permits them to make the necessary changes to the cars over the pit stops.


In conclusion, Indy cars do have reverse but are usually not put to use. Not using the reverse is because regulations or rules prohibit them from engaging in reverse.

Allowing an Indy car to reverse is like saying you want to see several accidents during racing times. People commonly say prevention is better than cure, and it is not wise to allow Indy cars to reverse on the tracks.

In addition, cases of reversing these cars were seen, especially with F1 cars. The F1 cars are similar to the Indy cars, where drivers engage and use and reverse. Lastly, it is important to know that Indy cars have six (6) forward gears and one (1) reverse gear.

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