(Editor’s Note- A huge thank you goes out to Kevin- who wrote this post about his experience at the F1 seat swap sponsored by Mobil 1 at Watkin’s Glen yesterday. He was kind enough to write this post as well as provide us with his personal pictures and videos of the event. Thanks Kevin- AMY).
I have been waiting for today for half the year. The chance to see my favorite driver run another type of race car, an F1 car. Yes, today was the day that Tony Stewart got to drive Lewis Hamilton’s 2008 F1 Championship winning car at Watkins Glen International.
It suppose to be sunny and in the mid 70′s today. Liars! Maybe upper 50′s and raining. I was smart enough to wear jeans but not a coat, stupid me. Any ways, I did have an umbrella which helped to shield me from the wind a bit. It was cold up there though.
When I got there David Coulthard was taking people around the track in a Z06 Corvette. He was going around really quick and it sounded so cool. Some times your forget why you like something like a certain car so much. Seeing, hearing that Vette today made me remember why I love them so. I wish I could have gone around with him one time. Darian Grubb went for a ride and seemed to enjoy it.
It was interesting to see the fan mix. I would have to say that the crowd did seem heavy on the F1 side. Most NASCAR fans are easy to spot, they wear their favorite number as a badge of honor, sponsors are on the flag of their heart. I went to an IRL race in 2008 and this felt a lot like that. I noticed F1 team apparel but not to many driver or sponsor stuff, with the exception of Vodafone hats.
I was excited to see this, like I said, I’ve been waiting for it since the rumors started. The #14 was wheeled out first, then the F1 car. Huge difference in the cars, the 14 took a small army to push out, use to that. The F1 car was so light it took only a few to do the same, and it was not on it normal tires. It was on some kind of roller thing, gave me the idea that these are fragile cars.
So after a lot of media photos they got going. First the went on a parade lap behind Watkins Glens new Camaro SS pace car which looks so much better than the Corolla they had before. Any ways. The Stock Car and F1 car sound so different. The #14 is like a Loin, it roars with a good bass and its loud. The F1 sounds like a bobcat, high pitched and screechy. They both sounded awesome. Lewis got on it first and that got Tony going. When they came back around Tony pulled into the pits and Lewis took of in the F1. It went like a missile around the track, looked like it was hugging the track. It sounded great. My first time seeing a live F1 car made me wish they would bring F1 back to WGI. I can see myself going to that race every year. Lewis took 3 laps around and came back in.
Now Smoke went out in his Chevy and ran 4 laps on the full track. See there is about another mile to WGI that the Cup guys do not drive on. So even though Tony has 5 wins at WGI it was not on this track. It was weird on top of this due to the windshield wipe and rain tires on the 14. Tony got on it and drove it pretty hard. He brought it in and the seat swap began.
First up was Lewis in the #14, he took it out and fired off a slow lap followed by three more, each quicker than the last. He has having fun with it as well. Tony was on the pit wall talking with him about it as he drove by. When his 4 laps were up he slowed down on the front stretch and did one of the best burn outs I have ever been witness to. When he got out he had a huge smile on his face and you could tell he liked it.
(Video of Lewis Hamilton in the 14 car by Kevin M Boots)
Then it was Smoke’s turn. He stalled it at first but then got it under way. He got right on it too. The track was drying nicely by now and Smoke tore through the track. He came down the front stretch at a speed that looked so much faster than the Cup car. Reminded me of the Daytona Prototypes I saw race there before. He took his four laps and brought it in. When he got out he looked as happy as a kid on Christmas morning- there were smiles all around.
(Video of Tony Stewart in the F1 car by Kevin M Boots) (Ed. Note: God I love the sound of that F1 car)
A few things I took out of this;
- NASCAR should look into running the full course. It looked like it could offer a better racing experience for the fans.
- If Lewis Hamilton comes to race in Nascar, please God let it be for Stewart-Haas Racing! He seemed is cool.
- Watkins Glen is just an awesome place to watch a race no matter how many cars are there. I think I will try to get front stretch tickets this year instead of the Pit Terrace tickets I usually get. Might like the race even better sitting there.
- I need to get a larger memory card. I took 503 pictures and 8 HD movies. It was about 3 Gigs of stuff. Ya ok so some of it was stuff most people would not want to take pictures of but I do this a lot and should have learned from Pocono last year where I ran out of space on two 4 Gig cards.
All and all it was a great day despite the rain and cold. I hope every one got to at least watch the Swap on Speed tonight. They left a lot out but it was still cool to see the cars go around the track. Only bad thing about a road course, you can’t see the whole track.
Kevin’s pictures from the event can be viewed here. Thank you Kevin for sharing this with us!
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