Honda Indy 200 set for “Christmas in July” camping theme

Photo: Honda

Part of the allure and attraction of the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is that camping is not only embraced, but a fabric of the Honda Indy 200 race weekend (Sunday, July 31, 2 p.m. ET, CNBC).

Much of that has to do with Mid-Ohio’s literally “middle of Ohio” location in Lexington, far from Columbus, Cleveland or Cincinnati that doesn’t leave a ton of hotels very close to the facility.

But the camping presence is omnipotent around the grounds of the historic 2.258-mile permanent road course, so much so that there’s even a competition for best designed campground.

Honda and Verizon – the race and Verizon IndyCar Series series sponsors, respectively – are combining to then create a “Christmas in July” camping theme this year, because with the race the last day of July rather than one of the first days of August, it creates this fun Christmas-at-a-race weekend mentality.

The hashtag for the weekend is #CampingWithHonda and follows off a successful camping weekend at the track last year.

Guests wishing to reserve camping of RV spots may do so by calling 419-884-4000 or by visiting A Weekend General Admission ticket is required in order to purchase a Tent Camping or Motor Home Camping pass.

Here’s the tentative schedule of events:

HondyIndy200ChristmasInJuly19Friday, right after the driver meeting – 9:05am. To kick off Christmas in July, a photo opp by the “reindeer car kit” outfitted Honda Racing pace car with all Honda drivers in Honda Indy 200 santa hats.

Honda Racing will host activities for all race fans during the event weekend.


11:50 am  “Ugly Hawaiian Shirt” contest judged by Santa and James Hinchcliffe at the stage in the Honda Fan Zone.

2:00 pmChristmas in July” campsite/camper decorating finalists are chosen with Santa judging. All participants receive a Honda Indy 200 gift. Also the Verizon “best-connected” finalists will also be chosen. This is for the best wireless enabled campsites using technology to show off their holiday spirit.

Post-qualifying (exact time TBD) Campsite/camper decorating and “best-connected winners chosen by Graham Rahal and Conor Daly. (winners for the decorating competition receive a pace car ride, runners up receive Honda-branded camping gear; Verizon finalists receive Verizon gear)

8:00-10 pm A community bonfire and s’mores in the camper area, with live music provided by Columbus’ premier party band “MidLife Crisis”.


Race fans can find Santa in the Fan Zone where Honda and Firestone will be celebrating Christmas in July. There will be photo opps with Santa, candy canes, and for a donation to James Cancer Care facility of Columbus, fans will receive a commemorative Honda Indy 200 Christmas in July ornament.

And here’s Verizon’s presence for the weekend, alongside Honda:

As the series sponsor, Verizon provides fans and customers the ultimate access to the Verizon IndyCar Series. Verizon is joining Honda to celebrate the Christmas in July spirit by selecting and awarding the five most connected campsites that use wireless-enabled technology to bring their holiday spirit to life. Winning campsites will be selected on their ability to showcase how they stay connected on Verizon, America’s best network, even when at the track.

Further participation is possible not just from the Honda contingent of drivers, but also Rising Star Racing, Chevrolet teams and drivers, and perhaps some Mazda Road to Indy participants.

The Mid-Ohio on-track schedule is pretty jam packed from start to finish next weekend, but this ensures those at the track will be entertained at all hours – not just those when cars are running.

New Chip Ganassi driver Marcus Armstrong will team with boyhood idol Scott Dixon

Marcus Armstrong Scott Dixon
Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images

Marcus Armstrong was a Scott Dixon fan his entire life, and when he was 8, the aspiring young racer asked his fellow New Zealander to autograph a helmet visor that he hung on his bedroom wall.

Next year, Armstrong will be Dixon’s teammate.

Armstrong was named Friday as the fourth IndyCar driver in the Chip Ganassi Racing lineup and will pilot the No. 11 next season on road and street courses.

A driver for the five oval races on the 17-race schedule will be named later.

The No. 11 is essentially the No. 48 that seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson drove the last two seasons, with Chip Ganassi making the change to run four cars numbered in sequential order. Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson drives the No. 8, six-time champion Dixon drives the No. 9, and 2020 IndyCar champion Alex Palou drives the No. 10.

So just who is the second Kiwi in the Ganassi lineup?

A 22-year-old who spent the past three seasons in Formula One feeder series F2, a Ferrari development driver in 2021, and former roommate of Callum Illot and former teammate of Christian Lundgaard – both of whom just completed their rookie IndyCar seasons.

“I’ve always been attracted to the IndyCar championship because it’s one of those championships that’s been really well televised in New Zealand since I was young, mainly because of Scott and his success,” Armstrong told The Associated Press. “As time progressed, as I got closer to F1 and single-seaters, the attraction to IndyCar grew just because of how competitive the championship is – I like to challenge myself and the level of competition in IndyCar is remarkably high.”

Armstrong, from Christchurch, New Zealand, was set to travel from his current home in London to Indianapolis this weekend to meet his new team. He won’t need an introduction to Dixon, the 42-year-old considered the best IndyCar driver of his generation and Armstrong’s unequivocal childhood hero.

Last season, Dixon earned his 53rd career victory to pass Mario Andretti for second on the all-time list. Dixon has driven for Ganassi in all but 23 of his 345 career starts.

“For a long time I’ve been a Scott Dixon fan. I don’t want to make him cringe with our age difference,” Armstrong told the AP.

Despite the two-decade age difference, Armstrong never considered someday racing with Dixon a fantasy.

He convinced his father after winning five national karting championships to allow him to leave New Zealand for Italy at age 14, where he moved by himself to pursue a racing career. Armstrong said as soon as he’d received parental permission, he’d never look back.

Armstrong was in Formula 4 two years after his move to Italy and won that title in his first season. He won four races and four poles in F3 in the 2018 and 2019 seasons, then collected four wins and eight podiums in three seasons of F2.

“Maybe it’s a strength, or maybe it’s a weakness, but I always thought I was capable of doing great in the sport,” Armstrong told the AP. “I think you probably have to succeed in the sport, you need to believe in yourself. I always pictured myself being in IndyCar.

“As Scott’s teammate? I can’t specifically say I saw that. It’s an extraordinary chain of events.”

Armstrong becomes just the latest driver to leave Europe, where F1 is the pinnacle but has only 20 seats each year. Alexander Rossi began the trend in 2016 when the American left F1 and won the Indianapolis 500 as a rookie. He’s been followed by Ericsson, last season’s Indy 500 winner, Romain Grosjean, Illot, Lundgaard, and on Thursday three-time W Series champion and Williams F1 reserve driver Jamie Chadwick was announced as driver for Andretti Autosport in IndyCar’s second-tier development series.

Armstrong said he could have remained in F2 for a fourth season, but he’d been watching IndyCar for so long, and after conversations with Illot and Lundgaard, he decided to make the move to what he believes is the most balanced racing series in the world. He tested for Dale Coyne Racing at Sebring in October.

He doesn’t know if European racing is done for good, just that he wants to be in IndyCar right now.

“I don’t want to think too far into the future, I’m just grateful for this opportunity that is standing right in front of me,” Armstrong said. “I want to perform as well as I can in the near future and just consolidate myself in the fantastic chance that is IndyCar and just do my best.

“I’m not looking at F1 as a landing spot – I am looking at IndyCar, and that’s exactly why I am here.”