F1’s Fernando Alonso to swap rides with NASCAR’s Jimmie Johnson in Bahrain

Photo courtesy NASCAR
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Slated to “retire” from Formula One at the end of this season, two-time champion Fernando Alonso has said he’d like to try competing in several other racing series in his so-called “retirement.”

He’s already set to compete in 2019 in the World Rallycross Series. There are rumbles he may return to the Rolex 24 Hours.

He’s also has hinted he may come back to race again in the Indianapolis 500.

But in light of a mutual tweet on Friday from both Alonso and seven-time NASCAR champ Jimmie Johnson, could NASCAR also be on Alonso’s racing bucket list?

Alonso will get a chance to experience what it’s like to drive Johnson’s NASCAR Cup car on Monday, November 26, one day after Alonso’s final F1 race in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

But there’s more:

Johnson will in turn get an opportunity to drive Alonso’s McLaren-Renault F1 car at the same time. Both drivers will swap rides on the Bahrain International Circuit, site of F1’s annual Bahrain Grand Prix.

This won’t be just a couple of laps run and call it a day. Rather, both drivers plan to make a full day of it on-track, learning and experiencing what the other has done throughout their respective racing careers.

“We really want to have a full day to experience each other’s cars and mess around,” Johnson said Friday at Texas Motor Speedway.

According to NASCAR Talk’s Dustin Long, Hendrick Motorsports shipped a car Oct. 9 to go by boat to Bahrain for Alonso to drive. Johnson said the team “packed the container with plenty of tires and equipment to let him run as long as he wants to get the full experience, and they’re offering that same thing to me.”

Johnson will depart the U.S. almost immediately after NASCAR Cup’s final race of the 2018 season at Homestead Miami Speedway on Nov. 18. Johnson will spend two days at McLaren’s headquarters in Great Britain to try to get acclimated to the open-wheel ride, simulated g-forces and greater downforce in McLaren’s F1 simulator before heading to Bahrain.

Several members of Johnson’s Hendrick Motorsports team will also be on hand at the “swap” to assist Alonso.

The experience is already being referred to on social media as #JJxALO.

Check out the great tweet both drivers put out today:

Alonso tweeted out the same post:

This isn’t the first time well-known drivers have “traded” or “tried” other rides:

* Three-time NASCAR Cup champ Tony Stewart and five-time F1 champ Lewis Hamilton did so in June 2011 at Watkins Glen.

* In 2003, Jeff Gordon drove future NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya’s F1 ride at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

* In August 1988, NASCAR driver Geoff Bodine got behind the wheel of Arie Luyendyk’s CART open-wheel race car to run a few laps around Michigan International Speedway.

* NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott was at MIS on the same day Bodine drove Luyendyk’s car. Afterward, Elliott quipped he’d like to try driving an Indy car someday. Awesome Bill got the opportunity three years later, also at MIS, when Elliott drove several laps around MIS in Cheever’s Indy car, hitting a top speed of 210 mph on his fastest lap.

* In early 2002, 1998 Indy Racing League champ and 1999 Indy 500 winner Kenny Brack drove the No. 42 NASCAR Cup Dodge for Chip Ganassi during a test at Daytona International Speedway. The plan was for Brack to drive a few weeks later in the Daytona 500. But sponsorship fell through and Brack never had a chance to fulfill his dream.

Gee, we wonder … given that he’ll soon drive Johnson’s Cup car, what’s on Alonso’s schedule for mid-February?

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IndyCar releases schedule for 2023 season

IndyCar schedule 2023
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The NTT IndyCar Series’ 2023 schedule will feature the same number of races and tracks as this season with some minor reshuffling of dates.

IndyCar will open the 2023 season March 5 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, and will conclude Sept. 10 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. The 107th Indy 500 will take place May 28 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The 17-race schedule will conclude with a stretch of eight races in the final nine weeks.

“The NTT IndyCar Series is on an impactful upward trajectory, making progress at a pace that befits our thrilling style of competition,” Penske Entertainment Corp. president and CEO Mark Miles said in a release. “The 2023 season provides an opportunity to further build on this trend, bringing our sport and its stars to more markets and households and reaching new consumers across the globe.”

There will be 15 events on NBC: 13 races (including six of the final seven) plus Indy 500 qualifying May 20-21. There also are three races on USA Network and the Toronto race exclusively on Peacock. All races on NBC and USA also will have live simulstreams on Peacock.

In partnership with NBC Sports, the 2022 IndyCar season was the most-watched in six years and the most-watched across NBC Sports on record. The 2022 season also was the most streamed season on record.

“We’re very excited for our 2023 NTT IndyCar Series schedule and to build on this past season’s viewership milestones,” NBC Sports vice president of programming Mike Perman said in a release. “In providing comprehensive coverage across NBC, Peacock and USA Network, NBC Sports is once again looking forward to telling the stories of these world-class drivers and this compelling series.”

Notable elements on the 2023 schedule:

–There will be the same balance of seven road course races, five street courses and five ovals.

–St. Pete will be the season opener for the 13th time.

–The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix will move from Belle Isle to the streets of downtown.

–The NASCAR doubleheader weekend at the IMS road course will shift to mid-August.

–The World Wide Technology Raceway event will move from Saturday to Sunday.

Start times for the 2023 events will be announced at a later date.

Here’s the 2023 IndyCar schedule:


Date Race/Track Network/Platform
Sun., March 5 Streets of St. Petersburg NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 2 Texas Motor Speedway NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 16 Streets of Long Beach NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 30 Barber Motorsports Park NBC, Peacock
Sat., May 13 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) NBC, Peacock
Sun., May 28 The 107th Indianapolis 500 NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 4 Streets of Detroit NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 18 Road America USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 2 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 16 Streets of Toronto Peacock
Sat., July 22 Iowa Speedway – Race 1 NBC, Peacock
Sun., July 23 Iowa Speedway – Race 2 NBC, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 6 Streets of Nashville NBC, Peacock
Sat., Aug. 12 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) USA Network, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 27 World Wide Technology Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 3 Portland International Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 10 WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca NBC, Peacock

*dates and networks/platforms are subject to change