NASCAR Hall of Fame debuts new Racin’ & Rockin’ exhibit, driver/fan Q&A series, Eldora truck race viewing party

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The NASCAR Hall of Fame is going to be very busy over the next few months.

Last month, the Hall debuted one of its most intriguing exhibits ever called Rockin’ and Racin’. Not only are there several NASCAR race-winner trophies in the shapes of guitars created by noted artist Sam Bass, there are also a number of vehicles that have been used in NASCAR-themed music videos or movies.

Among those: The 1959 Chevrolet Corvette featured in Brad Paisley’s “Old Alabama” music video, country music star Marty Robbins’ 1964 Plymouth race car, Juan Pablo Montoya’s 2012 No. 42 Chevrolet sponsored by Taylor Swift and the 2003 Chevy Rock & Roll 400 guitar trophy. The exhibit is on display through the end of the year.

Now there’s two other activities that will grab fans’ attention at the Hall, located in downtown Charlotte, N.C.

First is a special viewing party on July 23 of the 1-800-CarCrash Mudsummer Classic NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Eldora (Ohio) Speedway. The party will be in the Hall’s 278-seat High Octane Theater on a 64-foot-wide, curved projection screen with surround sound. Admission is just $5 per person.

The Classic will mark the second straight year that the trucks have raced on the dirt at Eldora, one of the most popular highlights of last season, which also marked the first time any NASCAR series raced on dirt in 43 years.

And then there’s a new series of appearances by drivers from the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck series, which begins this Tuesday, July 15, at 4 pm ET.

Called “Summer Driver Tuesdays,” each session will feature a question-and-answer session moderated by Hall executive director and Motor Racing Network personality Winston Kelley, followed by an autograph session with fans.

In addition, drivers as well as NASCAR Hall of Fame members and fans will also have the opportunity to race against each other in the iRacing Simulators in Race Week.

Here’s the schedule for the series (dates, times and drivers subject to change – check the Hall’s web site for updates):

July 15, 4-5:30 pm: Michael McDowell, Brennan Newberry and Germán Quiroga

July 29, 4-5:30 pm: Landon Cassill, Erik Jones and Tyler Young

Aug. 5, 4-5:30 pm: Alex Bowman, Cole Whitt, Ryan Truex and Justin Allgaier

Aug. 2, 4-5:30 pm: Michael Annett, Joey Coulter, Spencer Gallagher and Jimmy Weller

Click here for more information on Summer Driver Tuesdays.

And click here for more information about the NASCAR Hall of Fame and other activities.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Fernando Alonso will decide this summer whether to pursue F1 again

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Fernando Alonso said he will determine by this summer if he would consider a return to Formula One next season.

After announcing Tuesday that he will return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May with Arrow McLaren Racing SP, Alonso said “right now the Indy 500 will take all of my concentration” but left the door open for F1 in 2021.

“In my case, probably during the summer period, I’ll make a decision on 2021 if Formula One is still appealing to me,” Alonso told IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview (watch the video above). “The 2021 rules (in F1) are definitely a step forward, and hopefully things can be more mixed and not only three teams capable of winning races. So all this factors into play. I may consider that possibility.”

Alonso won consecutive Formula One championships in 2005-06 with Renault. He has 32 victories in an F1 career that started in 2001 and also includes stints at Ferrari and McLaren.

His last victory on the circuit was May 12, 2013 in Barcelona. He is winless in his most recent 110 starts, including the past 77 races with McLaren in 2015-18.

The Guardian recently reported that McLaren CEO Zak Brown said Alonso wouldn’t be returning to F1 with the team.

Alonso also told Diffey that returning to F1 from a two-season absence wouldn’t necessarily be linked to McLaren’s performance.

“I think they did well last year, and hopefully they make another step forward and close to the top three because they deserve it and are a fantastic team,” he said.

Though he is optimistic about more parity, Alonso said six-time champion Lewis Hamilton should be a favorite for the 2020 title based on preseason testing in which Mercedes turned heads with a new steering system.

“It seemed Mercedes is still quite competitive,” Alonso said. “They show enormous potential on the development side and on the progress from one year to next. Formula One is impossible to predict because many things happen in season.

“At the starting point, (Mercedes) are the favorites. When you have Lewis in the car and Mercedes with the potential they have, they have to be No. 1 probably.”