They do things big in Texas – but Formula One stands out

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More and more, we’re seeing Texas play host to the biggest events in sports. But out of all of those major gatherings, the Formula One United States Grand Prix at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas may be the most unique.

In a land that celebrates its Wild West past at every opportunity, Formula One’s futuristic style of racing is trying to take root and make a permanent home for itself in the United States, once and for all. Enabling its efforts is the city of Austin, which has long been known for Hook ‘Em Horns and good live music but is now creating a more international identity for itself through F1.

“I know there are people around the world who may not have ever heard of Austin who now know it exists,” Austin Chamber of Commerce president/CEO Mike Rollins tells NBCSports.com national columnist Joe Posnanski in the latest edition of “The Big Read.”

“We never could have paid for that kind of media attention.”

But after a terrific inaugural running in 2012, the hard part – sustaining the event over a long period of time – begins this weekend at COTA. As a NASCAR official tells Posnanski regarding last year’s USGP, “Let’s see how they do next year.” Whether or not that official is speaking the truth or subtly trying to rain on Austin’s parade, I’ll let you decide.

However, if F1 does make a long-term stay in America – something like its 20-year run in the ’60s and ’70s at Watkins Glen in New York State – it would appear that Austin is a good match for the series.

As Posnanski writes, there’s a self-assured cool about Austin. The people accept its eclectic nature, and now with F1 in town, they’re liking the fact that the city’s being connected to the international community.

“What is the most famous Formula One race? Monte Carlo, right?,” an unnamed Austin resident tells Posnanski. “It’s arrogant, but we kind of like to think of ourselves as America’s Monte Carlo.”

Arrogance and confidence rolled into one – truly, the essence of F1 itself. The Austinites already have it down cold, it seems.

For more, be sure to check out Posnanski’s interesting piece in the link above.

Recapping the proper Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel rivalry (VIDEO)

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Lewis Hamilton and Sebastien Vettel are the two most decorated drivers currently on the Formula 1 grid, with seven World Championships between them (four for Vettel, and three for Hamilton).

However, their paths have rarely crossed on the track, and only in 2010 did both drivers battle each for a World Championship in the same year. They also battled Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber that year, with Vettel emerging on top to claim his first World Championship.

However, the 2017 season sees Hamilton and Vettel in the two best cars on the grid, and they have gone head-to-head multiple times already this year, with each claiming two victories through the first five races. Currently, Vettel leads Hamilton 104-98 in the world championship, and the two men are developing a strong on-track rivalry.

Monaco Grand Prix coverage continues with FP3 and qualifying on Saturday. Full times are linked here.

 

Take a look behind the scenes of Fernando Alonso’s Indy 500 qualifying runs (VIDEO)

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In Friday’s NASCAR AMERICA Motorsports Special on NBCSN, we take you behind the scenes during F1 superstar Fernando Alonso’s qualifying runs for the Indy 500, including when he was on the pole for a brief period. He’ll eventually start fifth. 

Simulator ride tells what Fernando Alonso can expect in Indianapolis 500 (VIDEO)

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On Friday’s NASCAR AMERICA Motorsports Special on NBCSN, Parker Kligerman and his backseat driver, Kyle Petty, took to the iRacing simulator to make a mock run around Indianapolis Motor Speedway in preparation for Sunday’s Indianapolis 500.

They look at the challenges of IMS, as well as the challenges two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso will face in the first oval track race in his illustrious career. Alonso is among the favorites in the race and will take the green flag from the middle of Row 2 (fifth position).

Check out the above video.  

Legendary announcer Ken Squier gets you ready for Sunday’s big day of racing (VIDEO)

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Sunday is the biggest day of the year in motorsports, starting in the morning with Formula 1’s legendary Monaco Grand Prix.

Then, at Noon ET, it’s the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The final part of the tripleheader of racing is NASCAR’s longest race of the season, the 400-lap, 600-mile Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Newly-named NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2018 inductee Ken Squier gives you a great primer for what promises to be a memorable day around the world (see video above).