I know that all of us are waiting for Winter to finally go away, but the folks at Mobil 1 have just released this short that is a bit of a primer on ice racing. The sport is good fun, even if it is crazy cold in Ontario cottage country. Now that the season is over, it might be a good time to pick up a slightly used ice racer for a couple of hundred bucks and start beating panels ahead of next Winter.
Following the Mobil 1 Car Swap event at Watkins Glen, the fans went home to get warm and the media went inside for a post drive debrief. Led by retired Formula 1 star turned TV commentator, David Coulthard, Tony and Lewis chatted candidly about the day. When DC opened the conversation up to questions from the floor, things got a bit more interesting.
What started out as a cold, wet, rainy morning in the hills around the Finger Lakes turned out to be a fun and exciting fan event, regardless of the motivation of the promoters and the home brewed photo op for Mobil 1.Ã‚Â It was what it was and the fans still turned out by the thousands to see their favourite stars of racing take a turn in a car they have never driven before.Ã‚Â Sure there was some grumbling about the weather and how wet and cold everyone was feeling, but like moths to a flame we were drawn to this spectacle of racing.
During the parade lap when both drivers were out with the pace car, the excitement was palpable in the crowd as everyone was anticipating the action even before it began.Ã‚Â The harmonic sound of the Vodafone F1 race car’s high winding engine mixed with the deep roar of the #14 Mobil 1 NASCAR sent chills through the crowd as if it were a symphony being directed by a great composer.Ã‚Â This was the stage being set for a couple of guys going out to have some fun, then trade cars and go out and do it again.
Whether you consider it a marketing stunt (which it was) or a historic motorsports event (which it also was) yesterday’s Mobil 1 Car Swap at Watkins Glen was a pretty cool concept. Take a pair of stars from NASCAR and Formula 1, stick them in each other’s cars and let them loose. The stars in question were Tony Stewart and Lewis Hamilton, both of whom are sponsored in their respective series by Mobil 1, which led to more than a bit of cynicism from many fans, not to mention news editors who considered it a stunt not worthy of coverage. Wah.
Of course swapping seats is not a new idea, as it has been done before with Gordon and Montoya. Perhaps less well known in North America was a similar event featuring Damon Hill and rally star Colin McRae. Guys always want to play with new toys and when the guys are stars and the toys are made of unobtainium, the fans want to see the action. For this event, Mobil 1 opened the gates to fans for free, which ensured a decent crowd would show up despite the dismal weather.
The day dawned rainy and cold, which set up some interesting challenges and a first. They say this was the first time a Cup car had run on rain tires. I’m not that well versed in NASCAR history, so I’ll believe them. It was also the first time a Cup car had been run on the full course, including The Boot. While vintage F1 cars compete at the one time home of the U.S. Grand Prix, this was the first time a modern F1 car had been driven on the track.
As the teams prepped the cars for their warm up drives, the rain stopped and the fog rolled in. 20 minutes later, the fog lessened somewhat and the rain returned. Then, more fog. Not a nice time for fans or photographers and I’m sure the teams and drivers were less than impressed too. Until they got in the car that is! On the warm up laps in the number 14, Stewart was hanging the tail out every chance he got, while Lewis was pushing his McLaren pretty hard too.
The sound of a solitary F1 car reverberating off the hills of Upstate New York in the fog is a difficult sensation to describe. Perhaps the best word might be haunting.
Mosport press release
Motorsport legend Bobby Unser has been named as Grand Marshal of CanadaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s biggest sports car race of the year, the Mobil 1 presents The Grand Prix of Mosport, August 26-29.
Bobby, the older of the two famous racing brothers (along with Al, Sr.), established the family name many years ago by winning three Indy 500 titles, in 1968, 1975 and 1981. UnserÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s first career IndyCar victories came at Mosport when in 1967 he took the chequered flag in both the twin 100 mile races.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Mosport will always have a special place in my heart. The 1967 Mosport IndyCar race became one of the most important events in my whole life because it was my first IndyCar win. So itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a real honour to be the Grand Marshal of the Mobil 1 presents the Grand Prix of Mosport and to help the track celebrate their 50th anniversary season,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Unser.