If you had to pick the two most diametrically opposed professional racing series in the world, chances are you’d go with NASCAR and F1. One series is the favorite of the blue collar, good ‘ol boy crowd, while the other is the darling of the uber-rich and beautiful. There’s no chance of finding caviar and foie gras in a NASCAR skybox, just as there’s no chance of finding pork rinds and corn dogs in Monaco. Even the style of racing is completely different, since NASCAR stockers are primitive, heavy beasts that require techniques like bump drafting to advance through the pack. Try bump drafting an F1 car, and your day will end in an expensive shower of carbon fiber.
That’s not enough to dissuade NASCAR’s Tony Stewart, who’s trading his Chevrolet Impala Sprint Cup car for a McLaren Mercedes MP4-23 (last year’s car). Likewise, McLaren Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton will be jumping into Stewart’s Impala for a few hot laps at Watkins Glen, as part of an exhibition sponsored by Mobil 1. The event will take place on June 14, but it’s not yet clear if it will be televised (although I’m sure we’ll see an edited version on YouTube). I’d call this advantage: Stewart, since the two-time Sprint Cup champion has some prior experience racing open wheel cars in the Indy Racing League. That’s not nearly the same as Formula 1, but at least Stewart has track time in a car with no fenders. I’m guessing that it’s been a long time since Hamilton has driven anything with a carburetor.
Both sports will return to normal post-exhibition, so don’t look for Stewart at Monaco (or Hamilton at Talladega) any time soon. Expect a good show, and we promise to post the highlights as soon as they’re up.
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