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IndyCar history: Fourth of July races

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Several times in its history, the Verizon IndyCar Series has hosted an event near the Fourth of July. Yet, only a few times has a race actually been held on that day.

The last time a race was held on July 4 was in 2010, with Will Power taking victory at Watkins Glen, the last time IndyCar visited the famed New York road course until its return last year.

Only six years prior, Buddy Rice accomplished a similar feat in 2004, winning at Kansas Speedway on July 4.

KANSAS CITY, KS – JULY 4: Buddy Rice, driving the #15 Rahal Letterman Racing Argent/Pioneer Honda GForce, crosses the line side by side with his second placed teammate Vitor Meira in the #17 Centrix Honda GForce to win the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series Argent Mortgage Indy 300 on July 4, 2004 at the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Gavin Lawrence/Getty Images)

However, those have been the only two races held on July 4 in the 21st century. Previously, the last time an IndyCar event took place on July 4 was in 1982, with Bobby Rahal winning at Cleveland’s Burke Lakefront Airport.

Of note: twice since 2000 has a race been held on July 3, with Sebastien Bourdais winning at Cleveland in 2004 (run under the Champ Car World Series banner) and Tony Kanaan winning at Kansas in 2005.

Similarly, two races have been held on July 5 since 2000. The aforementioned Bourdais won at Cleveland on that date in 2003 (then under CART sanctioning), and in 2009, the late Justin Wilson gave Dale Coyne Racing its maiden IndyCar win at Watkins Glen.

WATKINS GLEN, NY – JULY 05: Justin Wilson driver of the #18 Z-Line Design Dale Coyne Racing Dallara Honda celebrates with his team after their first ever victory at the IRL IndyCar Series Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen on July 5, 2009 at the Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Darrell Ingham/Getty Images)

The most recent event the Verizon IndyCar Series has held on the weekend of July 4 came in 2014, when Juan Pablo Montoya scored a victory at Pocono Raceway on July 6.

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Usain Bolt, Bill Clinton among headline guests for USGP at COTA

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The Circuit of The Americas paddock ahead of the United States Grand Prix may have been busy with teams and drivers preparing for lights out, but much of the attention lay with a number of headline guests including former presidents and Olympic champions.

As part of its plans to up the excitement levels ahead of Sunday’s grand prix and mirror other sporting events, F1’s new owner, Liberty Media, announced plans a couple of weeks ago to link up with iconic boxing announcer Michael Buffer and eight-time Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt for the pre-race festivities.

Ahead of today’s race in Austin, Buffer will introduce the drivers in a number of groups before offering the call for drivers to start their engines, similar to the pre-race procedure for the Indianapolis 500.

Honorary race starter Bolt, who competed in his last athletic world championship event in London earlier this year, will appear on the start line to complete his signature victory pose before waving the green flags to launch the formation lap.

Bolt was also treated to a hot lap around COTA by Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton before the start of the formal pre-race build up program in Austin.

Liberty issued a list of celebrities and other public figures who are confirmed to be attending today’s race, including Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden and actor Owen Wilson among others.

One name that wasn’t on the list? 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, who quickly became a focus for the paddock upon arrival three hours before lights out.

The United States Grand Prix is live on NBC and NBC Sports app from 2pm ET today.