Gateway to serve as IndyCar testing facility in 2016

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When the 2016 Verizon IndyCar schedule was announced this week it had 16 races stretching from March to September.

None of those races will be at Gateway Motorsports Park, just outside St. Louis. But the track that hasn’t hosted an open-wheel series since 2003 could be on the 2017 schedule. But before that happens, the track will be an accepted testing site for IndyCar in 2016, as was announced on Tuesday.

“The conversations between Gateway Motorsports Park and officials at IndyCar have been very encouraging,” Gateway Motorsports Park owner and president Curtis Francois told the St. Louis Post Dispatch. “There is mutual interest from both parties to bring an IndyCar race to Gateway Motorsports Park, and we are taking a methodical approach to exploring the possibilities.”

The track has already been tested on since the 2015 season ended in August. Ed Carpenter of Carpenter Fisher Hartman Racing took laps at the 1.250-mile track in a compatibility test.

“From the feedback I’ve gathered, drivers like racing at Gateway Motorsports Park,” Francois said. “They like the track and they appreciate the enthusiasm and energy of the fans. They recognize that fans in the St. Louis region like more than just baseball. St. Louis is a sports town through and through.”

The last IndyCar race at Gateway, in August 2003, was won by Helio Castroneves.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).