News that F1’s Lewis Hamilton and NASCAR’s Tony Stewart will swap cars this summer sounds amazing, especially as we wait for the late season start – but one question – will ‘Smoke’ fit in an F1 car?
The last time NASCAR and F1 crews swapped drivers for a day was back in 2003, when a stocky (by F1 terms) Juan Pablo Montoya and a lithe Jeff Gordon traded drives to the delight of many who watched Jeff hit the brakes too early, and JPM hit them way too late, all in the name of appreciating different forms of racing on four wheels:
This time around, the choice of the two drivers is interesting as stateside, Tony Stewart commands a presence as the ‘all American driver’ – one who lives – and races – by his own rules. Love him or hate him, he’s ‘an American original’ as they say. He’s also a proven winner, and one who’s comfortable on an oval as well as a road circuit, so that’s handy given he’ll drive a competitive 2010 F1 car at Watkins Glen, former home to the US Grand Prix.
From the F1 side, Lewis has more than a few followers worldwide, and his participation brings with it a chance to gain the exposure NASCAR has been going for internationally. A few moments on camera with Lewis reacting to the feel behind the wheel of a Chevy Impala (or something that resembles the shape of the production car) could be worth quite a bit of discussion online and off when he steps out of the car and smiles after a few laps around the Glen.
While less is clear from the Stewart-Hass strategy in appearing in such an event, Tony Stewart has for quite a while wanted the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a modern-day F1 car, so this just may be his one chance as a current racing driver. From the McLaren side, it’s no secret Ron Dennis would very much like McLaren Electronics to win a contract with NASCAR to provide the series with a standard ECU when the non-carbureted version of the series comes on line.
Mobil 1 has put this event together, and is currently featured in both series as partner to Vodafone McLaren Mecedes, and official Motor Oil of NASCAR. Interestingly, Mobil 1’s Facebook page shows they haven’t quite got the idea that this is exactly the type of event to build their fan base there. The opportunities here are endless: Who will be faster, in which part of the course? Who will brake later first? There are serious racing fans all over the world who spend hours discussing exactly these sorts of fantasy matchups, so let’s see if Mobil 1 can create a show of it for F1 and NASCAR fans alike.
One final question is, why put together this event now? Good timing and plenty of planning came together to make this happen, and F1 in America needs new fans – what better crowd to show off a modern F1 car to than the largest racing fan community in the country? Watkins Glen is be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the USGP there this year, and while the new Grand Prix circuit in Austin will be bringing racing fans from all over the world in 2012, reaching out to fans Stateside means welcoming the stock car community with open arms.