F1 on NBCSN goes ‘Off The Grid’ in Bahrain (VIDEO)

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NBCSN Formula One insider Will Buxton and partner-in-crime/producer Jason Swales are at it again.

After taking the “Road to Ferrari,” Buxton and Swales are now giving F1 fans a behind-the-scenes look at the world’s most popular motorsport in the new NBC Sports digital series, “Off The Grid.” The first episode, which you can see above, finds the duo at Bahrain International Circuit for preseason testing.

After a trip to the Bahrain podium and a chat with the track’s former CEO, Martin Whitaker, they head for the capital city of Manama and then end the night with a friendly – or maybe not so friendly – competition at the karting track.

An often amusing glance at the F1 life, this is one trip “Off The Grid” that you’ll want to take. Also, be sure to check out the “Buxton’s Racing Debut” series as well.

Formula One returns to action this weekend with the Bahrain Grand Prix. Coverage begins with FP2 on Friday morning at 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN, continues with qualifying on Saturday at 11 a.m. ET on CNBC, and culminates Sunday with the Grand Prix at 10:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN. All NBCSN/CNBC sessions will also be streamed on NBC Sports Live Extra.

March 28 in Motorsports History: Adrian Fernandez wins Motegi’s first race

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While auto racing is an international sport, oval racing remains uniquely American. 

That almost always has remained the case since the inception of the sport, but in 1998, the citizens of Japan got their first taste of American oval racing.

Having opened the previous year, Twin Ring Motegi was built by Honda in an effort to bring Indy-style racing to the Land of the Rising Sun. 

Adrian Fernandez was the first driver to win at the facility, taking the checkered flag in CART’s inaugural race after shaking off flu earlier that day.

Fernandez held off a hard-charging Al Unser Jr to win by 1.086 seconds. The victory was the second of his career and his first since Toronto in 1996.

Adrian Fernandez celebrates with Al Unser Jr and Gil de Ferran after winning the inaugural race at Motegi. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

The race was also memorable for a violent crash involving Bobby Rahal.

Running third with 15 laps remaining, Rahal’s right front suspension broke in Turn 2, causing his car to hit the outside wall and flip down the backstretch.

Luckily, Rahal walked away from the accident without a scratch.

“The car was on rails through (turns) 1 and 2, and all of a sudden it just got up into the marbles, and it was gone,” Rahal said. “Thank God we’ve got such safe cars.”

The following season, Fernadez went back-to-back and won again at Motegi. The track remained on the CART schedule until 2002.

In 2003, Honda switched their alliance to the Indy Racing Leauge, and Motegi followed suit.

The track continued to host IndyCar racing until 2011 with the final race being held on the facility’s 2.98-mile road course, as the oval sustained damage in the Tōhoku earthquake earlier that year.

Also on this date:

1976: Clay Regazzoni won the United States Grand Prix – West, Formula One’s first race on the Long Beach street circuit. The Grand Prix would become an IndyCar event following the 1983 edition of the race.

1993: Ayrton Senna won his home race, the Grand Prix of Brazil, for the second and final time of his career. The victory was also the 100th in F1 for McLaren.

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