Sato Lights the Way for New Generation of Japanese Drivers

Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato looks forward to a new generation of Japanese in IndyCar.

While many tuned in to the Indy 500 with the hopes that a certain Andretti Autosport Honda driver would take the crown, reality had a different result in store. Alas, Fernando Alonso’s finish in the Indy 500 was similar to that of his recent finishes in Formula One – engine failure at the hand of Honda.

Sato helped remove the taste of such a bitter defeat out of our collective mouths, as he made history by becoming the first Japanese driver to win the Indy 500.

The ex-Formula One driver won the end-of-race battle against Helio Castroneves on Sunday to blaze into both history and victory lane as the first and only Japanese driver to take the Indy 500 cup, and hopes that his achievement will usher in a new generation of Japanese drivers willing to stake their claim on the venerated oval as he did:

“[On if he hopes to see more Japanese drivers in Indy]: I certainly hope so. I mean, I want to see the new generation. As long as I can drive, I want to teach them, of course, but beat me and come up and then get even better.

I think that there are a lot of potential young Japanese drivers out there, and there are a few of them in Europe. Unfortunately, we haven’t really seen the up-and-coming young Japanese drivers in the States.

But after this result, I’m sure there are many, many drivers who wanted to achieve that one, and here in the States, there is a great pyramid and scholarship system from the junior formulas until Indy Lights and IndyCar.

There’s always great opportunity, and Honda is committed to this series, and I’m here to help anything.”

Takuma Sato

Sato’s willingness to help in any way that he can is one of the trademark qualities of an IndyCar Champion, and his warm personality is something that has always shone through both on and off the track. Motor racing, like any sport, has the potential to sour when the competition gets fierce. Lesser individuals have succumbed to the pressure and folded under it, but not Sato. His victory at the end of the 500 mile stint is groundbreaking in more ways than one.

(Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

As Sato mentioned, there is a dearth of Japanese drivers in IndyCar, and this issue isn’t just limited to Japanese drivers and IndyCar. American Motorsports has a bit of a reputation for being significantly less on the international stage than other world-touring Motorsports.

Well, if Sato’s victory and Alonso’s participation are anything to go by, the global Motorsports fanbase has shown that it is hungry for any manner of high-octane racing, regardless of where it happens to be located. If IndyCar and its American counterparts funnel enough resources into establishing themselves for a much wider and more global audience, the world is poised to be taken over by a worldwide Motorsports Renaissance.