June 13, 2011

Just Cool: Stewart and Hamilton to Swap Cars at Watkins Glen

"Can I borrow your car?' If you are a parent or a great friend you probably have heard that once or twice in your life. Well that question gets taken to a whole new level tomorrow at Watkins Glen when 2008 Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton and two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart will swap their race cars. The two will make a four-lap run on the 3.4-mile track, first used for the U.S. Grand Prix in 1971

The event, called the Mobil 1 Car Swap at Watkins Glen International, is free to the public from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., where you can access the Turns 1 and 11 grandstands and the start/finish straight.

"It's going to be an absolute monstrous event for Watkins Glen International," said WGI president Michael Printup in an interview with Ron Levanduski, the Star-Gazette racing columnist.  "To put two champion drivers and their cars on the Glen track like this is phenomenal. We have had a ton of response from the fans since we announced it... we'll have a pretty big crowd."

“I spend a lot of time in race cars, but this will be the first time I've been at the wheel of a NASCAR stock" said Hamilton.

Watkins Glen is celebrating its 50th anniversary of Formula One. The venue hosted the U.S. Grand Prix from 1961-1980 and currently holds an annual fall vintage racing event there to the delight of Formula One fans.

Coverage of the event will air on SPEED tomorrow at 8pm EST hosted by the network's Formula One commentator, Bob Varsha with additional from the SPEED team including pit coverage.

Stewart's No. 14 Chevrolet Impala and Hamilton's Vodafone McLaren Mercedes MP4-23 will run the track but first step will be some practice laps in the WGI Chevy Tahoe. This will be a unique event for many reasons, not the least of which being that Hamilton has only ever competed once in the United States, winning the U.S. Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2007.

Both drivers will do some laps in their own race cars at 12:10 p.m. Hamilton is expected to get in some hot laps in his 2008 title-winning McLaren MP4-23. He should easily lap under the Ryan Briscoe's existing track record of 1 minute 28.597 seconds (136.935 mph) during qualifying for the IndyCar race there in 2009.

So tune in tomorrow or better yet come on by and enter through Gate 4 which opens at 9am.