Indy’s prestige makes Brickyard 400 worthwhile

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Today, NASCAR’s legacy at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – the Brickyard 400 – turns 20 years old.

It reaches this milestone having secured a firm status as one of stock car racing’s most important events. And while its history is nowhere close to matching that of IMS’ crown jewel, the Indianapolis 500, it was still able to, for a time, supplant the ‘500’ as the most popular event at the world’s greatest racecourse.

But in recent years, the ‘400’ has appeared to lose favor with the fans. Multiple factors have combined for this, including single-file racing, brutal Indiana summers, and perhaps most damaging of all, the tire fiasco that turned the 2008 event into a disaster. Attendance has tumbled dramatically in a short span, and it’s been reported that today’s crowd could be the worst in ‘400’ history.

The Indy faithful, some of the most knowledgeable race fans in the sport, can’t be attacked for their indifference. They know that, racing-wise, this event pales in comparison to not only their beloved Indy 500, but a good portion of the other events on the Sprint Cup calendar.

However, we’re still talking about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, or simply, the Speedway – and you better make sure that S is capital, because that’s the sign of respect you ought to give to a track that’s delivered so many memories.

The Speedway’s legend is very real, and every driver in the NASCAR paddock wants to be the one that adds to it every summer. They want to experience the indescribable rush of winning at Indy, to plant a slow, sweet kiss on the famous Yard of Bricks, to be able to tell their grandchildren, “I won at Indianapolis,” long after they’ve turned the final laps of their careers.

Crowd issues aside, the Brickyard 400 is still a race filled with prestige. And it’s still a race that is treated with respect by those who compete in it. This isn’t just another weekend at the office. They know that a triumph at 16th and Georgetown can put them among the sport’s greats, like Earnhardt, Gordon, Johnson and Stewart, all of them past winners of the race.

The complaints about stock car racing at Indy will likely never go away. Barring something truly seismic, the 2.5-mile oval is going to be what it has been for over a century. But there’s no doubt that in its 20 years of existence, the Brickyard 400 has created its own special tradition on the biggest stage of them all.

Let’s see what the next 20 years will bring.

Rebellion confirms LMP1 return, all-star line-up for WEC super season

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Rebellion Racing has confirmed it will return to the LMP1 class of the FIA World Endurance Championship for the 2018/19 ‘super season’ with an all-star line-up featuring Le Mans winners Neel Jani and Andre Lotterer.

Rebellion raced in LMP1 as a privateer between 2009 and 2016 before stepping down to LMP2 for the most recent season, capturing the class titles at the first attempt.

Following a push from the WEC and Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) to make LMP1 more appealing to privateer teams, Rebellion announced on Wednesday it would return to the premier class for the 2018/19 season with a two-car effort.

WEC LMP2 champion Bruno Senna will return with Rebellion next year, as will Mathias Beche, with the pair set to be joined by four new faces.

The most notable arrivals are Porsche factory drivers Lotterer and Jani, both of whom were left without an LMP1 drive following the closure of the German manufacturer’s program at the end of the season.

American racer Gustavo Menezes will also join Rebellion, stepping up after two years in LMP2, while outstanding 2017 rookie Thomas Laurent completes the Swiss team’s line-up.

“I am looking forward to coming back where my endurance career started nine years ago,” said Jani.

“Rebellion Racing played a huge role in my career and also helped me become a factory driver for Porsche. When Porsche stopped in LMP1, it was clear for me that I wanted to race again for Rebellion.

“With the new regulations, I hope we can reach the overall podium at Le Mans and with a bit of luck, maybe we can even grab some wins during the super season of WEC.”

“I am very happy to join the champion Rebellion team,” added three-time Le Mans winner Lotterer.

“The LMP1 project is very exciting and to be able to go on with the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the FIA WEC challenge is something I did not want to miss.

“I am motivated and looking forward to have a great time with great people there.”