Ryan Briscoe

A re-imagined “Month of May” at Indianapolis? (VIDEO)


Seeing an IndyCar going the wrong way down the front-stretch of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway takes some getting used to. That much was probably true for everybody that was either at yesterday’s road course test at IMS, or have seen highlights of the affair.

We all know why the test came to fruition in the first place. IMS and INDYCAR officials wanted feedback as they ponder upgrades to the 2.6-mile layout while also considering a possible IZOD IndyCar Series road race at the Speedway for next season.

There have also been some rumblings about an end-of-year showcase on the Indy road course in the early fall, but it’s looking more and more like the IndyCars are leaning toward racing twice next May at the Brickyard.

It’s highly unscientific, but from what I’ve gathered, most folks aren’t opposed to the idea of an IndyCar road race at IMS itself. They just don’t want it in May, as they’re presumably concerned about keeping the traditions of the Indianapolis 500 sacred.

That argument is intriguing to me. Because if IMS and INDYCAR decide to stage a road race as a lead-in to the ‘500,’ would that not just be a re-imagined version of the one tradition that most purists have been upset about losing in recent times – the “Month of May”?

Oh, it wouldn’t be your father or grandfather’s Month of May with the pairing of a road race and the ‘500.’ But your father or grandfather’s Month of May was back in the days when the ‘500’ was the only race at Indy – and, more importantly, didn’t have to deal with the massive entertainment competition that it’s forced to contend with now.

For those that are worried a road race will detract from the month’s main event, just stop for a minute. Don’t you think that after a century, the ‘500’ has enough going for itself – even in American open-wheel racing’s recent state of struggle  – to ensure it won’t be overshadowed by a second race in May?

“I know it’s not going to be the ‘500’ – we all know that,” said Graham Rahal, who along with Ryan Briscoe tested out various configurations of the Indy road course yesterday.

“But if we can put on a good show, and get a good crowd and have a good vibe going into the month of May, it would be awesome. Times have changed. What was IndyCar 100 years ago isn’t what IndyCar is today. We have to change with the times.”

Graham, the son of 1986 ‘500’ winner Bobby, gets it. A road race at IMS in May wouldn’t be about ripping traditions apart.

In a perfect world, where INDYCAR is flush with cash and mainstream recognition, perhaps the series wouldn’t have to consider such a race like this. But if changes are made to the Indy road course and a lucrative title sponsor can be found for this potential endeavor, it could all work out nicely.

And, while it’d be in a different form, we’d get our “Month of May” back.

Here are your Russian Grand Prix air times on NBCSN, Live Extra

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The Russian Grand Prix airs this weekend on NBCSN, marking the second time for Formula 1 to hit the streets of Sochi after its debut at the new track last year.

Here’s your TV times breakdown:


Formula One returns to Sochi for its second race in Russia in as many years, following the first running of the Russian Grand Prix in a century last year. Mercedes enjoyed success at last year’s Russian GP, as Lewis Hamilton led Mercedes to a 1-2 finish and the team clinched its first-ever constructors’ championship. Mercedes is on the brink of winning its second straight constructors’ championship, and needs to outscore Ferrari by just three points this weekend in Sochi to secure the title.

Hamilton dominated the most recent race on the F1 calendar, the Japanese Grand Prix on Sept. 27, as he led all 53 laps to claim his eighth win of the 2015 campaign. Hamilton leads teammate Nico Rosberg by 48 points with just five races remaining in the season.

Live coverage from the Sochi Autodrom begins Friday morning with Practice 1 at 3 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Live Extra, followed by Practice 2 at 7 a.m. ET on NBCSN. Live Extra will stream Practice 3 on Saturday at 5 a.m. ET, prior to live qualifying at 8 a.m. ET on NBCSN.

Live Russian Grand Prix coverage begins Sunday at 6:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN, followed by F1 Extra at 9 a.m. ET. NBCSN will air an encore presentation of the Russian Grand Prix at noon ET on Sunday.

Lead F1 announcer Leigh Diffey will call the Russian Grand Prix, and will be joined by veteran analyst and former racecar driverDavid Hobbs, and analyst and former race mechanic for the Benetton F1 team Steve Matchett. F1 insider Will Buxton will serve as the team’s on-site reporter from the Sochi Autodrom. Alex Jacques will call the GP2 race in Sochi airing Sunday at 10:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

F1 Motorsports Coverage This Week on NBCSN & NBC Sports Live Extra (subject to change):

Date Program Time (ET) Network
Fri., October 9 F1 Russian Grand Prix – Practice 1 3 a.m. NBC Sports Live Extra
F1 Russian Grand Prix – Practice 2 7 a.m. NBCSN
/DRIVE on NBC Sports 8:30 a.m. NBCSN
Sat., October 10 F1 Russian Grand Prix – Practice 3 5 a.m. NBCSN
F1 Russia Grand Prix – Qualifying 8 a.m. NBCSN
Sun., October 11 F1 Russian Grand Prix 6:30 a.m. NBCSN
F1 Extra 9 a.m. NBCSN
F1 Russia Grand Prix (Encore) 12 p.m. NBCSN
GP2 – Russia* 10:30 p.m. NBCSN

Rosberg: F1 title race is not over yet

xxxx during the Formula One Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on September 27, 2015 in Suzuka, Japan.
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Nico Rosberg is refusing to back down in the fight for the 2015 Formula 1 drivers’ championship despite trailing Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton by 48 points with five races remaining.

F1 arrives in Sochi this weekend for the Russian Grand Prix, and Rosberg knows that failing to score any points would leave Hamilton just one victory away from a third world title.

Rosberg has failed to put up the same kind of fight to his teammate this year as he did in 2014 when the championship was only decided at the final race in Abu Dhabi.

However, he is refusing to back down and write off his title hopes yet, despite not having won a race since June.

“Once I got back from Japan, I was able to focus on the positive elements from my weekend in Suzuka: pole position, the on-track pass on [Valtteri] Bottas and then having the speed to undercut [Sebastian] Vettel’s Ferrari at the second pit-stop,” Rosberg said, reflecting on his fightback to second place at Suzuka two weeks ago.

“I’m not backing down in my fight for the championship and gaining those positions back fair and square showed that. We have five races to go and, although the championship gap to Lewis is quite big, in my mind it’s definitely not over yet.

“The way the whole team has performed this year – from the factories to the garage – has been just incredible and I have the car I need to get back to the top step.”

Sochi was the site of Mercedes’ first constructors’ championship victory in 2014, and Rosberg is hoping to aid its bid to clinch a second title on Sunday.

“I really enjoyed our first trip to Russia last year and it was an awesome weekend for the team – one that I will always remember after seeing all the hard work they’ve put in during my time here,” Rosberg said.

“So, I’m aiming to put all those tools they’ve given me to good use and bring home a top result.”

The Russian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra this weekend.