Le Mans: F1, American drivers of note to watch

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A mix of ex-Formula One stars, names known to an American audience, and rising sports car talents are part of the 168 drivers that will compete in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

  • The ex-F1 contingent: Those counting at least one Grand Prix start on their resume and competing at Le Mans include: Allan McNish, Marc Gene, Lucas di Grassi (Audi), Alexander Wurz, Kaz Nakajima, Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi, Stephane Sarrazin (Toyota), Nick Heidfeld (Rebellion Lola Toyota), Shinji Nakano (G-Drive/Delta-ADR Oreca Nissan), Gianmaria Bruni, Giancarlo Fisichella, Kamui Kobayashi, Olivier Beretta (AF Corse Ferrari), Jan Magnussen (Corvette), Pedro Lamy (pictured right, with Bill Auberlen) and Bruno Senna (Aston Martin).
  • Those with an IndyCar connection: Ryan Briscoe (Level 5 HPD) and Mike Conway (G-Drive/Delta-ADR) are the only current IndyCar drivers making a start at Le Mans, owing to their lack of a full-time ride. Some other names with past IndyCar experience or connection include Dario Franchitti’s brother Marino (Briscoe’s Level 5 teammate), and recent IndyCar starters Bertrand Baguette, Martin Plowman (OAK Morgan Nissan) and Ho-Pin Tung (KCMG Morgan Nissan).
  • The American crowd: The “Yanks” in this year’s field race in all classes except LMP1. They include: Kevin Weeda (Lotus), Scott Tucker (Level 5), Matt Downs, Rodin Younessi (Boutsen Ginion Oreca Nissan), Alexander Rossi, Eric Lux (Caterham Greaves Zytek Nissan), and Mark Patterson (Murphy Oreca Nissan) in LMP2, with Jordan Taylor, Tommy Milner (Corvette), Jonathan Bomarito, Tommy Kendall (SRT Viper), Paul Dalla Lana, Bill Auberlen (Aston Martin), Ricky Taylor, Cooper MacNeil (Larbre Corvette), Howard Blank (AF Corse), Tracy Krohn (Krohn Ferrari), and Patrick Dempsey, Joe Foster, and Patrick Long (Dempsey Del Piero) split between the GTE Pro and Am classes.

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.