Thu 19 January 2017
The Race Of Champions is celebrating its first appearance on American soil with the launch of a brand new track concept: a figure-of-eight circuit with two loops of different lengths winding their way around the inside of Miami’s Marlins Park.
This is the first time the Race Of Champions has been held in a baseball stadium, and this new concept has allowed ROC to design a wider track, resulting in even more spectacular racing. It’s all head-to-head in identical supercars so the fastest driver will win, albeit often by fractions of a second.
NASCAR champion Kyle Busch and action sports legend Travis Pastrana were the first two drivers to try out the new track today.
Travis Pastrana said: “I like the two different loops on this new layout: the short loop is faster but you come onto the start-finish straight with much more speed from the longer loop. So at the final corner you think “Yeah I’ve got it!” Then they come flying past you… but on a track like this we can expect the races to be very tight.
“To have the Race Of Champions in the USA is really awesome for me. To have it in Marlins Park, where it’s warm, the location is perfect. And to be with the top drivers from every other form of motor sport, I’m like a kid in a candy store.”
Kyle Busch added: “It’s going to be fun to be able to race against guys from different backgrounds from all over the world. The track is pretty unusual but it’s a lot of fun. The course is a bit tight in some areas but that makes it feel even more interesting. As for the double straight down the middle with the crossover, it’s already confused Travis and me so hopefully the rest of these guys can figure it out better than us!”
On this weekend’s new track layout the drivers will each tackle different halves of the circuit simultaneously until they have covered the same distance. When the lights go out, the driver starting on the left will speed off down the left-hand loop A, while the driver on the right heads onto the shorter right-hand loop B. When they arrive back at the shared start-finish straight they swap sides and each driver races around the opposite loop (see diagram below).
Because Loop B is shorter and quicker, the driver who starts on that side will arrive back at the straight a few seconds before their rival. But in each heat both racers will have to race along both loops, effectively completing an identical lap before arriving back at the start-finish line to see who comes out on top. Expect the dash to the line to be mighty close: the Race Of Champions is well-known for the tightest of finishes, with the world’s best drivers often separated only by a fraction of a second.
The whole building process from baseball field to fully-fledged race track began just a week ago and it was completed in a total of 120 hours of work. The build required 3000 tonnes of asphalt and 1000 tonnes of gravel so 170 truckloads were brought to Marlins Park in just 48 hours. 875 aluminum panels have also been used to protect the substructure, irrigation and drainage. Yet after Sunday’s final race everything will be dismantled, reverting to a baseball diamond, in just two days.
ROC president Fredrik Johnsson said: “We are always keen to innovate at the Race Of Champions and this new racing format is the latest example. In honour of our visit to American soil for the first time we are launching a new figure-of-eight track with two loops winding their way around the inside of Miami’s Marlins Park.
“With identical cars the emphasis remains firmly on driver skill alone; and the finishes will be as close as ever, with races often decided only by fractions of a second. So the crowds in Miami this weekend are in for a treat as some of the world’s greatest drivers push to the limit and battle each other all the way to the flag.”
The Race Of Champions weekend is a veritable feast of entertainment from start to finish – and the action doesn’t even stop in the gaps between the head-to-head races contested by the world’s greatest drivers. This year the fans in Miami’s Marlins Park will be treated to a range of shows by some of the world’s most talented performers on both two wheels and four.
2004 NASCAR champion Kurt Busch will be competing in all manner of machinery during this year’s event. However, none will feel more like home than his Stewart-Haas Racing-run #41 Ford Fusion NASCAR, which he’ll be demonstrating on both days. Expect V8 thunder and burnouts galore…
1980s Group B rallying spawned the wildest cars ever to grace a forest-lined, mud-splattered or snow-covered stage, and this year one of the era’s defining machines – the Audi quattro S1 – returns to ROC for more turbocharged tail-sliding antics in the hands of legendary World Rally Champion Hannu Mikkola.
There will also be mayhem from stunt driver and ROC regular Terry Grant (pictured above). Expect the unexpected as he shows just what can really be achieved on four wheels – just don’t expect safety belts to be fastened at all times…
World-renowned street-bike freestyle ace and Red Bull action sport athlete Aaron Colton will be showcasing his unique skills on (and off) his KTM. Two Red Bull Air Force skydivers will be dropping in while there will also be cheerleaders, music and much more. At ROC the fun never stops…
Tickets for ROC Miami are still available via www.raceofchampions.com. For access to rights-free high-resolution imagery and to keep up with all the latest news ahead of this year’s event please visit www.raceofchampions.com, Race Of Champions on Facebook, plus @raceofchampions and #ROCMiami on Twitter.
Race Of Champions Draw (Saturday 21 January)
Sebastian VETTEL (Germany) four-time Formula 1 world champion
Travis PASTRANA (USA) action sports legend
Helio CASTRONEVES (Brazil) triple Indianapolis 500 winner
Either Scott SPEED (USA) double Global Rallycross Champion, or Alexander ROSSI (USA), 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner (to be decided by play-off)
Juan-Pablo MONTOYA (Colombia) double Indianapolis 500 winner
Petter SOLBERG (Norway) double FIA World Rallycross Champion
Felipe MASSA (Brazil) 11-time Formula 1 grand prix winner
Pascal WEHRLEIN (Germany) 2015 DTM champion and new Sauber Formula 1 driver
Jenson BUTTON (Great Britain) 2009 Formula 1 world champion
Kyle BUSCH (USA) 2015 NASCAR champion
Tony KANAAN (Brazil) 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner
James HINCHCLIFFE (Canada) 2016 Indianapolis 500 pole sitter
Tom KRISTENSEN (Denmark) nine-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner
Kurt BUSCH (USA) 2004 NASCAR champion
David COULTHARD (Great Britain) 13-time Formula 1 grand prix winner
Ryan HUNTER-REAY (USA) 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner
ROC Nations Cup Draw (Sunday 22 January)
Team USA NASCAR (Kurt Busch & Kyle Busch)
Team USA IndyCar (Ryan Hunter-Reay & Alexander Rossi)
Team USA Rally X (Travis Pastrana & Scott Speed)
Team ROC Factor Canada (James Hinchcliffe & Stefan Rzadzinski)
Team Great Britain (Jenson Button & David Coulthard)
Team Germany (Sebastian Vettel & Pascal Wehrlein)
Team Nordic (Tom Kristensen & Petter Solberg)
Team ROC Factor Latin America (Helio Castroneves & Gabriel Glusman)
Team Brazil (Tony Kanaan & Felipe Massa)
Team Colombia (Juan Pablo Montoya & Gabby Chaves)