Formula 1 has announced that iconic ring announcer Michael Buffer will host the official pre-race driver introductions for the United States Grand Prix in two weeks’ time.
As part of the festivities for this year’s race at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, Buffer will feature in an extended pre-race build up that has been tweaked in the F1 sporting regulations after the FIA granted officials special dispensation to do so.
Known for his famous catchphrase “let’s get ready to rumble!”, Buffer will “be on hand to present at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin all of the Formula 1 world championship title contenders,” as per a release from F1.
“The partnership unites Formula 1 with an iconic voice that sports fans across the globe will recognize. He will build-up the excitement and anticipation by introducing the stars of the show minutes before the start of the race.”
“I’ve been involved in some of the biggest sporting events around the world and have introduced most of the greatest boxers of the modern era, and now is my time to introduce the world’s finest racing drivers,” Buffer said.
“They are the stars of the show and I want to introduce them with the energy and adrenalin they deserve before they fire up their engines and get ready to race.”
As per the release: “To accommodate this new initiative, the usual race start procedure has to begin 15 minutes earlier than usual. With the unanimous support of the teams, the FIA will apply for an exemption to the sporting regulations for this event only.”
“Having received a request from Formula 1, we have made some changes to the current Sporting Regulations for this race only, which will allow more time on the grid with the cars and drivers,” FIA race director Charlie Whiting said.
“The period leading up to the start of a Formula 1 Grand Prix is always very spectacular and we are pleased to be able to make it even more exciting for the general public watching both at and away from the track.”
Chase Sexton stumbled in San Diego and Eli Tomac had a hard fall in Anaheim 2, but the Monster Energy Supercross numbers for Houston suggest they will continue to be the ones to beat in Houston. To do so, they will have to turn back challenges from another pair of riders who have swept the top five in the first three rounds and another with a worst finish of sixth.
There are reasons to believe Webb and Roczen can keep those streaks alive.
Webb is the only multiple winner at Supercross’ current Houston stadium. His pair of wins came in 2019 and 2021, the same year he won his two 450 championships.
Clinton Fowler points out this week, that Webb has carried that strength into 2023. Webb had a late surge in Anaheim 1, advancing from fifth to second in the final six laps. In San Diego, he set his ninth fastest lap with two to go and his eighth fastest on the final lap. He posted his fastest lap of Anaheim 2 on Lap 12 while the rest of the field did so on Lap 6 on average.
By comparison, Tomac set his 14th fastest lap on the final circuit in route to winning the Main at San Diego while he was trying to keep Webb at bay.
With a sixth at San Diego, Dylan Ferrandis barely missed sweeping the top five in his first three races as did Tomac with a sixth last week at Anaheim 2.
This will be the 46th year Supercross has visited Houston and with 55 races the city is tied for the second-most with Detroit.
Jim Pomeroy won the first race in the Astrodome in 1974, one of three races held during Supercross’ inaugural season along with events at Daytona International Speedway and the Los Angeles Coliseum. Webb won most recently in 2021 in the final race of three held there that year as the series executed a strategy of racing in residencies to limit travel during height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tomac and Justin Barcia also won in Houston in 2021.
Two privateers have started the season on a high note.
Joshua Cartwright and Joshua Varize have each made the last two Mains. Cartwright finished 18th in San Diego and 21st last week in Anaheim 2 – all while working fulltime as a Business Intelligence Analyst at the University of Texas, Dallas. Varize earned a top-15 (12th) in San Diego and was 21st in Anaheim 2 in his third season on a 450.
The numbers show none of the active 250 Supercross East riders have won in Houston, so no matter who steps on top of the box, there is going to be a fresh face. That is not surprising since most of the top competitors have not raced at this venue yet.
Michael Mosiman has a pair of top-fives there, however. His best finish was a second in the second 2021 race. Garrett Marchbanks scored a top-10 in his rookie season of 2019 in Houston.
In the 250 East division, Hunter Lawrence is one of the favorites to win the title now that Christian Craig has moved to 450s. Last year he had four wins and nine podiums, but failed to set a fast lap in a race.