Tony Stewart, NASCAR, 2011

Lewis Hamilton to drive NASCAR at Watkins Glen

2011 F1 season

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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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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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

  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. 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. 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!

  20. I dont know why people are putting any thought into the idea that Lewis is going to move to Nascar. there is zero chance, its just a demo run maybe as part of the press build-up towards the US GP. Didnt button do the same with the V8s in Aus last year? Nobody thought he was going to make the switch then!

    I did watch Nascar last year and had watched the odd race over the previous 15 years or so. It just cant hold my interest. After the initial WOW of the crashes and the bump drafting it soon gets very artificial and repetitive. The fact it is so unpredictable at first seems great but then you release you may as well just watch the last 5 laps as everything before that is pretty much null and void on many of the tracks.

  21. Lewis is a great driver but he wouldn’t last 5 laps in a NASCAR race.

    1. And to be fair, most NASCAR drivers would be awful F1 drivers.

  22. “Lewis, this the steering wheel. You won’t be needing that much”.

    1. Damn, just realised Watkins Glen is a road course.

  23. Let’s hope Hamilton doesn’t enjoy it too much

  24. In my opinion, racers want more experience, but I hope he won’t ends like Kubica…..

  25. Might as well do a Kubica

    1. WOW. Your life is so much better for this comment.

  26. It’s hard for me to imagine that Hamilton would, as Keith put it, ‘do a Montoya’. Montoya’s move to NASCAR, while somewhat shocking at the time, kind of makes sense. He was fed up with F1, the top drivers in the series make great money, you get to race a LOT (mostly in circles, unfortunately), and perhaps most importantly, he had already spent many years living in the US racing Indy cars, and seems to like it here. Hamilton appears to be quite content where he is. For now.

    1. Exactly, Montoya had Chip Ganassi waiting to snap him up and put him in a decent car. Hamilton doesn’t have any connections and so would probably end up starting in it from the same position as Nelson Piquet Jr.

  27. Freaking awesome! I live about an hour from watkins glen and usually make several trips down per summer. Now I have a reason to go to the nascar weekend other than the party.

    I really hope Lewis gets in to turn a few laps as well. It will be really cool to see an F1 car go bombing through the bus stop at 150mph!!!

  28. So Jenson gets the V8 supercar swap and Lewis gets the NASCAR.
    Which would you rather try out?

  29. It´s Mobil 1 that´s sponsoring this trade because they´re sponsors of Mclaren and SHR ( Stewart´s nascar team).
    It can´t be much better than that since Hamilton is one of the best in F1 and Stewart maybe the best nascar driver when it comes to road courses, actually he is a former indy car champion.
    I´m sure Hamilton will love this experience and his driving style suits very well in nascar.

  30. Shame it will just be a demonstration run and he won’t racing.

  31. Which is faster eh?

    Would imagine top end on a Nascar is higher for the Ovals but F1 quicker for cornering and accleration. I am not overly familiar with Nascar though, would but its hardly ever on here. And I am not pay £6 p/month for it!

  32. This will be a nice thing to see. Tony is a former open wheel driver and IndyCar champion. and two time NASCAR champion. He dose some moonlighting in winged and wingless spint cars so I feel he will be one man to appreciate this experince. I think it will be fun to see and for them to do. It is fun to watch drivers do a different disipline of racing at times.

  33. Just wanna say that thats actually a picture of Tony Stewart in a Nationwide Series car, not the Sprint Cup car. His Sprint Car is sponsered by Office Depot, not Oreos.

  34. Any cross over is cool. Wish there was more of it. It’s a real shame F1 doesn’t have a stronger presence in the Americas, but with the US GP (hopefully?) well on its way and McLaren entering the racing market there… fingers crossed.

    It’ll be really interesting to hear what they both have to say about the handling.

  35. First comment in awhile for me…great to be back!

    As an American who keeps a “more than casual, but less than fanatical” interest in NASCAR, I have enjoyed what I believe is a warming to the sport among many F1 fans. Some of this comes from ventures such as the McLaren ECU deal, some of it from Montoya being competitive in Sprint Cup, and much of it from good ol’ common sense ;)

    One of the other comments put it best…F1 and NASCAR are really apples and oranges. Everything you think about in Formula 1 has a NASCAR equivalent- thrilling tracks and boring tracks, top guns and back-markers, good and bad liveries- it’s all there. And many of the guys really can drive- Stewart is one of them. He’s a threat to win at any track, on any weekend, on the Sprint Cup schedule.

    As for Lewis in NASCAR, I said in a post on my blog that there is a better chance of Anne Hathaway inviting me to a Hollywood party than of Lewis ever jumping to NASCAR- which is to say, not much ;) Montoya’s case was a unique one, as he had lived and raced quite successfully in America for several years, and had a very strong relationship with Chip Ganassi to work from.

    Perhaps in a decade or so, Lewis may give it a thought. But even then…the technical side of NASCAR is a completely different book (aside from the few road courses) than anything he deals with now. With all the money that a top F1 driver makes, I doubt any of them would give serious consideration to chasing a full-time Sprint Cup career after leaving F1.

  36. Younger Hamilton
    2nd March 2011, 20:10

    Hmm Hey Keith,Would you reckon What Lewis is doing is similar to what Jenson did with Jamie Whincup with the MP4-23 and that V8 Supercup Car at Australia last Year prior to the Australian Grand Prix

  37. Dave from USA
    4th March 2011, 2:45

    There’s no way you can fit Tony Stewart’s Burger King fat a$$ in an F1 car. Maybe a double-wide. They will have to remove whatever is in the sidepods then ream the cockpit out, grease him up, then slide him in like a hog.

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