Two racing tie-ins occurred at last night’s AMAs

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In the quest for any sort of televised racing content once the universally accepted “big three” motorsports divisions – Formula One, NASCAR, and IndyCar – conclude their seasons, I happened to stumble across the American Music Awards last night while flipping back-and-forth between the drama at the Meadowlands as the Cowboys beat the Giants and Odell Beckham Jr. made that catch.

Awards shows are a great hate-watch as it is, but occasionally, you get lucky and something semi-racing related pops up.

This has already occurred this year with Chris Hemsworth, the actor who played James Hunt, and Niki Lauda presenting at the Golden Globes. Ron Howard’s Rush, which chronicled the legendary Hunt/Lauda 1976 F1 title bout, was nominated for Best Picture at the Globes and Daniel Bruhl, who masterfully played Lauda, was nominated for Best Supporting Actor. Both lost, but the point was that racing was mainstream in a major Hollywood-type of way, and this doesn’t happen often.

So back to the AMAs. In-between the frequent lack of pure music, sporadic one-hit wonders and overly produced productions there were two racing tie-ins last night.

After Pitbull opened the show, Patrick Dempsey was the night’s first presenter. Sadly for racing geeks, he didn’t use the stage as an opportunity to expand on his FIA World Endurance Championship program for next year, but he did say hi to Taylor Swift.

Later in the show, Big Machine Records country music artist Brantley Gilbert won Favorite Country Album for “Just As I Am,” which premiered earlier this year.

You might remember that album as being adorned in several places on Sage Karam’s Dreyer & Reinbold/Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet-powered entry at this year’s Indianapolis 500. 19-year-old Karam had a debut worthy of Rookie-of-the-Year honors with a 31st-to-ninth place run.

Karam’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Tony Kanaan tweeted congratulatory messages to Gilbert, and Big Machine Label Group CEO and President Scott Borchetta.

Here’s a pic of “SK$” with Gilbert at the 500 earlier this year.

source: Getty Images
Karam and Gilbert. Photo: Getty Images

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans

LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.