March is undoubtedly my favorite month of the year from a sporting perspective. With NFL free agency, MLB spring training and the official March Madness kickoff, with Selection Sunday following the conference championships, there is no shortage of awesome this month.
In racing, that’s really apparent, as it is finally the fully fledged kickoff to the entire new season.
Yes, the Rolex 24 at Daytona brings North American racing out of its collective slumber to get the season kicked off in January. And yes, NASCAR has had now a full month of action, with now two rain-affected races at legendary Daytona and Bristol.
But this weekend marked the full complement of series in action that sees more than just NASCAR making racing headlines.
Formula One began its new era with a memorable, surprise-laden 2014 Australian Grand Prix. Nico Rosberg won and the emergence of the next wave of new talent – Kevin Magnussen, Daniel Ricciardo, Valtteri Bottas and Daniil Kvyat – began to showcase themselves.
Road racing was in the news with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, now run by the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. The race had its highlights but was dragged down by a caution-laden first half of the race and admitted officiating mistakes in the second half.
NHRA shifted from out west to Gainesville for the Gatornationals.
Although it wasn’t on track, IndyCar made the news cycle on Friday with the confirmation of Verizon as its new title sponsor in what will be a multi-year deal. The two-day test at Barber Motorsports Park this week marks the official on-track reveal of the new Verizon IndyCar Series.
This weekend, there were four major, international racing events all to follow and while at times trying to keep straight what was all happening in Melbourne, Bristol, Sebring and Gainesville was all a bit much for my head, it was a welcome reminder that we’re about to really kick this 2014 racing season into high gear.
And that is music to my, and race fans beyond NASCAR’s, ears.
On the rest of the docket this month:
- NASCAR Sprint Cup: Fontana (March 23), Martinsville (March 30)
- F1: Malaysian Grand Prix (March 30)
- IndyCar: St. Petersburg (March 30)
- Pirelli World Challenge: St. Petersburg (March 30)
- FIA WEC: Paul Ricard test (March 28-29)
- NHRA: Las Vegas (March 30)