Tony Stewart, NASCAR, 2011

Lewis Hamilton to drive NASCAR at Watkins Glen

2011 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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

107 comments on “Lewis Hamilton to drive NASCAR at Watkins Glen”

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

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

      1. I was really disappointed when I realised that.

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

        2. 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.

          1. And then in to space?

          2. Maybe Gary Paffet or another third/test driver could also take a shot at it?

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

      2. 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.

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

    2. 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.

      1. Assuming HAM makes it the full race distance… ;)

  2. 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…

      1. 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.

        1. He should try out BTCC. More smash ups (Matt Neal) than any other series.

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

    2. 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.

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

        1. 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.

          1. 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. 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. 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!

    1. Disappointed. Only a demo…

  7. 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”.

    1. Where’s the source to say it’s a demo run?

      I checked with McLaren.

      1. Ahhh ok, thanks for the info.

        1. Pity he’s not doing the race – though if he did a Montoya it would be a disaster for F1.

          1. Why? Because he might switch?

          2. If Hamilton were to leave for F1 we’d be loosing one of the sports brightest and most marketable talents, incredibly young. Huge portions of his younger fans might well switch off.

            Don’t really see it happening though, unless he does get frustrated in the same way as Montoya. But I suspect the differance is, if Lewis wanted a move to a faster team, he’d probably get it. Get the feeling all of them cept Ferrari (an oinly while they have Alonso) would snap him up.

          3. Shimks – That’s what I meant by ‘do a Montoya’! Can’t see it happening, though.

          4. Laranja Mecanica
            28th February 2011, 1:12

            Let’s hope Dumbo enjoys NASCAR immensely and does a Montoya, best thing that could happen to F1.

          5. It’s quite amusing to see all the unimaginative trolls suddenly using ‘Dumbo’ in every other comment since the Bernie biography came out, as if they thought of it or even understand what it means!

          6. Particularly given that they’ve got the reference wrong (‘Jumbo’ not ‘Dumbo’):


          7. No matter what the book says, Dumbo fits the subject much better than Jumbo. Not a perfect fit, though. All the really good ones are unprintable.

      2. Is it possible that for this time he is doing a demo run so they can gauge his ability in the car, and then organise an actual race for him if he handles it well enough?

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

    1. GMacGregor (@)
      27th February 2011, 21:37

      I’ve heard that McLaren will be providing engine management electronics to NASCAR in the near future…

      1. McLaren will be producing the ECU and injector system for Nascar in the ‘update’ to fuel injection.

    2. McLaren made IndyCars in the past, it would be great to see a McLaren aero kit for the 2012-generation IndyCar. (Group) Lotus are going one.

  9. 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.

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

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

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

        1. I always say, the fat manager at McDonalds must be an honest guy, ‘cos he clearly buys in to the business model!

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

    3. 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.

      1. 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. When is this going to happen?

    1. 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.

      1. 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!

    1. 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…

      1. 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.

        1. Terry Fabulous
          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!

      2. 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. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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 :)

          1. Leandra.Graves (@)
            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. 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…..

      1. That’s classic!

      2. If Button and Hamilton were American, that is EXACTLY what they’d look like.

        1. Well, with all due respect to our British friends, if they were in Britain at that size, the NHS would simply have them killed instead of treating them.

          1. But they could sue the NHS for not fitting a gastric band for free. I blame the NHS for making me eat all these pork pies!

      3. Looks so real, I can see these guys racing in NASCAR immediately!

      4. Jenson Mutton and Lewis Waysaton

    1. It is really apples and oranges at the end of the day, and one can like both F1 and NASCAR because of that fact. I happen to.

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

    1. 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?

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

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

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

  19. Great pic rfs!

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