Lewis Hamilton to drive NASCAR at Watkins Glen

2011 F1 season

Tony Stewart, NASCAR, 2011

Tony Stewart, NASCAR, 2011

Lewis Hamilton will get his first taste of a NASCAR Sprint Cup car at Watkins Glen later this year.

McLaren confirmed their driver will trade places with NASCAR driver Tony Stewart at the former home of the United States Grand Prix.

Hamilton will drive Stewart’s Chevrolet Impala and Stewart will drive last year’s McLaren MP4-25 as part of a demonstration run.

Watkins Glen is one of just two non-oval courses on the Sprint Cup’s 36-race schedule. It held the American round of the world championship from 1961 to 1980.

McLaren Electronics will supply fuel injection systems to NASCAR from next year.

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Image ?? John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR

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107 comments on Lewis Hamilton to drive NASCAR at Watkins Glen

  1. Tim (@legardism) said on 27th February 2011, 16:42

    Cool. Perhaps this could provide crucial preparation for a possible $5m Las Vegas IndyCar drive.. although probably not.

    • newnhamlea1 said on 27th February 2011, 16:54

      not even possible, its on the same day as the korean grand prix.

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 27th February 2011, 17:19

        I was really disappointed when I realised that.

        • Tim (@legardism) said on 27th February 2011, 18:56

          Oh no, I obviously hadn’t done my homework! That’s very disappointing!

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 28th February 2011, 7:14

          In theory it might just be doable. More something of a stunt for a guy like Glock though.
          Has Oval experience and Virgin Atlantic could make it a great show for flying there in time (helicopter from car to airport, then straight to Vegas to make it in the nick of time).

          But it really gives the impression, they are not too keen on anyone joinging in with a chance to win it. As Montoya stated, for the big NASCAR guys it would be hardly possible to do as well.
          Only the lower series that run on Friday or Saturday can reasonably make it.
          A shame really.

        • UniRacer said on 28th February 2011, 18:21

          The date has not been set, and may have nothing to do with the NASCAR event later this year.

      • andrew345612 said on 28th February 2011, 7:24

        No, according to the F1 and Nascar official websites, the Watkins Glen race is smack in the middle of the one month break in August leading up to the 2011 Belgian Grand Prix.

      • UniRacer said on 28th February 2011, 18:24

        People! Read the article! This is not a race… it’s a closed circuit demo for 2 cars. No date has been publicized.

    • KaIIe (@kaiie) said on 27th February 2011, 22:34

      Since they’re on very different time zones, I think it would be theoretically possible to drive in both races. You would just have to get on a (fast) plane pretty much instantly after the GP finishes.

  2. Tim (@legardism) said on 27th February 2011, 16:44

    Although on second glance, it’s not an oval circuit. It’s good to see a bit of driver crossover, more please!

  3. Only a demo run… What a shame, I’d have liked to see how Hamilton handled a real race in NASCAR…

    • eaten alive

      • SoerenKaae (@soerenkaae) said on 27th February 2011, 21:08

        Jan Magnussen, also a former F1 driver and now sportscar driver, drove the NASCAR race at Infineon last year. He said it was the most crazy, rough and wreckless race he had ever driven. So Lewis Hamilton would probably not be able to finish it.

    • Noelinho (@noelinho) said on 27th February 2011, 22:33

      He’d crash, shortly after he’d moaned about the tyres having no grip.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 28th February 2011, 7:15

      It is reported to be a real race ready NASCAR car, not just a demo. So we should be able to compare what he does with the laptimes in the NASCAR event there.

      • Why would we compare? It is his first ever run.

        • You cant compare. It takes time and traning for someone to go from any from of auto racing to another. Even then there is not sure thing that they will be good at it. Over history there have been very few drivers to be sucessful at multi-car driving styles. To be fare though the ones who were from what I have read were all primary open wheel drivers.

          • Baronetti said on 28th February 2011, 16:41

            Ha ha! Nobody told Nigel Mansell that when he won the Champ Car series in the same year he was F1 champion!

            And they were mostly on ovals….

  4. David B said on 27th February 2011, 16:50

    Great news.
    Driving is turn the key on and go flat, whatever the circuit, whatever the car, whatever the opposite.

    I lover this stuff.

  5. Hopefully Hamilton won’t bin it. Also, I believe Watkins Glen was the scene of Juan Pablo Montoya’s sole victory last year.

  6. Rob Wilson said on 27th February 2011, 17:06

    So he’s not taking part in a proper race then? Just a demonstation run? Oh that’s alright then, at first glance i was thinking *** is Hamilton doing racing in Nascar!

  7. RIISE (@riise) said on 27th February 2011, 17:16

    Where’s the source to say it’s a demo run? I was under the impression judging from the ESPN link that they were doing an exhibition run in “Race prepared machines”.

  8. verasaki said on 27th February 2011, 17:20

    Hmmm. There’s a lot of money in those series. I wonder if McLaren is sniffing out the possibility of branching out.

  9. verasaki said on 27th February 2011, 17:23

    And yes, it appears Hamilton and Stewart are trading cars for an exhibition. A F1 car at the Glen. What I wouldn’t give for that ticket.

  10. I question weather Tony Stewart will fit in the F1 car. To me, as an American, NASCAR is a joke. Not worthy of any attention.

    • Nickthegeek said on 27th February 2011, 18:40

      I am glad someone brought that up he is not the most tightly packed driver out there.

      • at daytona 500, the announcers and pitlane reporters made a big fuzz over the fact that Stewart lost a lot of weight since last season… now we know why.

        • Still, he is nowhere near Ryan Newman in terms of weight.

          Which brings me to an enduring question I’ve had. If a fat (not fit?) driver does well in a series does it mean the series isn’t competitive enough? Is the right physical size or physical fitness really important to be a successful professional driver? We’ve seen AJ Foyt win his 4th Indianapolis 500 when he was pretty fat for a racing driver, and old too. Mario Andretti is also an example.

      • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 27th February 2011, 18:58

        You mean the guy that does Burger King commercials? I think they provide the bulk of his diet as well as being his sponsor…

    • verasaki said on 27th February 2011, 19:27

      Ditto, Zibit! Good point. Maybe they can drag out one of Mansell’s old tubs.

    • That is too funny. That’s the exact same thing I was thinking. On IndyCar’s Curt Cavin’s blog I once mentioned that Stewart would never try the Indy 500 again because he was too fat to get in a single-seater. The locals didn’t much appreciate that comment.

      • DC,
        Is that why Montoya chose to leave F1, because he was getting too fat to fit into a cockpit? :)

        And after he left F1 he chose to go to NASCAR rather than IndyCar – for the same reason?

  11. us-brian (@us-brian) said on 27th February 2011, 18:21

    When is this going to happen?

    • verasaki said on 27th February 2011, 19:33

      best guess would be the august 14 weekend. it said later in the summer, the series is there that weekend and i believe f1 is between races that weekend.

      • Canadian GP is June 12th
        The Grand-Am 6hrs @ the Glen is June 4th
        NASCAR at the Glen is August 14th

        In 2003 when JPM/Gordon did it at Indy it was done on June 11th which was the Tuesday before the Canadian GP that year.

        So just going out on a limb here I’ll say it’ll likely be June 7th or 8th.

        What I want to know is has anybody heard which course layout they’re gonna use? The Full track that includes the famous “boot” (which is the track the Grand-Am race will be on) or the neutered Short Course that NASCAR uses.

  12. Can The Smoke still fit in a single seater?! Ha, Tony Stewart has some dieting to do this summer hahaha.

    In all seriousness, this is great news. The Montoya-Gordon swap in 2004 was a lot of fun. I hope Stewart catches the single-seater bug again and makes a run at the $5 million IRL Vegas prize.

    Also, it gives me goosebumps knowing that a modern F1 car is going to run at the spiritual home of F1 in America – Watkins Glen! Great news!

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 27th February 2011, 19:15

      Indeed, McLaren now have a car running at Bathurst and another at Watkins Glen. I wonder if they’d consider running one at Oulton Park…

      • Pink Peril said on 28th February 2011, 0:51

        Really? Hadn’t heard about that. Assume one of the Vodafone boys is doing the swap. Just another impetus (if I needed one) to get my backside up to the Mountain this year.

        • Terry Fabulous said on 28th February 2011, 2:55

          Hiya Pink!
          Mark here from our meet up last year. How you going?
          It’s actually on March 22, Tuesday. No Promos or anything yet, but that is the word.
          Lowndes and Button will swap cars and hit the mountain.
          So excited right now!

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 28th February 2011, 7:20

        Just a shame they do not do it more often. What about someone getting into a Japanese touring car as well? Don’t they run Nissans / Infinity as well (making that one for Renault).

        With Red Bull sponsoring all over the world, they could do more of this especially in the run up to the Austin GP the coming 2 years.

  13. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 27th February 2011, 18:55

    I doubt it. Purely just for commercial purposes. There’s no way he could do both NASCAR and F1.

  14. Too bad he’s not getting an attempt at an oval track.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 28th February 2011, 7:22

      Would he like it? His driving will be pretty competative on the road course, but on a oval I would guess he would need a lot of running to get competative.

      And McLaren would not risk it, off course.

      • Homer said on 28th February 2011, 8:51

        slightly different skillset required to race on an oval yea – also, ideally, he’d run indycar on an oval, not a nascar.

        but of course, this is just some marketing ploy.

        • Hare (@hare) said on 28th February 2011, 9:57

          Now Massa would be my choice for an oval track…. He’s the best F1 driver for going round in circles…. Especially when it’s wet :)

          • Leandra.Graves (@) said on 1st March 2011, 21:46

            Yes I remember a very wet Silverstone a few years, didn’t Massa spin 6 times or something similar?

  15. howick20 said on 27th February 2011, 19:24

    Just hope Lewis doesn’t go down the same route as Juan Pablo, pile on the pounds, and drive a big brightly coloured ‘truck’ in a circle arcoss America. I am a ‘true Brit’ as one can tell…..

  16. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 27th February 2011, 19:53

    I haven’t ever really given NASCAR a go so I might tune in one day…

    • NASCAR is great. You can pull off some really outlandish overtaking moves and the car keeps going. Whereas……

      Didn’t Jarno Trulli do something similar a while back?

      • Tim (@legardism) said on 27th February 2011, 20:40

        I managed to catch the Daytona 500 the other week online – it was my first NASCAR race and I thought it was pretty good.

        What I liked was:

        The massive average speeds, the number of cautions (safety cars for what would just be yellow-flag incidents), the unpredictability of the crashes, and the fact that it was all still to play for on the last lap. Oh and the fact the drivers have radio contact between each other!

        The downsides:
        The monotony of the oval track, the 200 lap distance*, constant commercial breaks.

        I think what I liked best was watching being able to watch some motorsport on TV on a sunday.

        • NASCAR has it’s downsides, Like the whole yellow flag conveniently near the end thing. And also the whole it’s rubbish thing.

          But mostly they get it right, especially how the race is presented. I mean, How good would F1 be if it’s TV program quality was as good as NASCAR. All it would take is a bit of effort.

          Oh and the fact the drivers have radio contact between each other!

          Imagine the hilarity of that in F1! Alonso wouldn’t be able to contain himself.

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 28th February 2011, 7:44

            I would love that. And think of hearing Webber tell Seb what he thinks!
            Or Rubens and Schumi in Hungary last year.

        • thatscienceguy said on 28th February 2011, 11:32

          how the heck do you enjoy caution periods? Especially in NASCAR seeing they send the safety car out just to bunch the field back up.

          I was watching a race last year (I think, maybe 2 years ago) and one of the drivers was on the radio to his team saying how the officals were “throwing the yellows” every 15 or so laps. Sure enough, 5 laps later and ~17 since the last caution, out come the yellows for absolutely no reason.

          People claim KERS and proximity wings are artifical racing, NASCAR’s use of the safety car is an absolute afront to racing.

  17. ManjuBoy said on 27th February 2011, 20:15

    So this will be exactly like what Juan Pablo Montoya and Jeff Gordon did back in 2003 at Indianapolis when Montoya drove for Williams BMW. Cool!

    I remember Gordon doing pretty well in the FW24 and Montoya and that big ol’ NASCAR looking like a floundering whale on the tight turns at the Indy infield.

    Here’s a link to some of the highlights:

    After his test, Jeff Gordon said that he was shocked by the level of fitness needed for F1.

  18. Faraz (@faraz) said on 27th February 2011, 20:48

    Juan Montoya is actually getting on quite well in NASCAR so don’t criticize him for it.

  19. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 27th February 2011, 21:08

    Great pic rfs!

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