Simulation legends race will match Indy 500 winners, F1 champs, more

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The Race’s virtual online simulation racing series will be featuring champions of a different vintage this weekend.

The field of the Legends Trophy race, which will take place Saturday as a prelude to the third round of the All-Star eSports Battle at noon ET, will match up champions from different series, all of whom are older than 40.

The Race has been holding virtual races while real-world racing has been halted during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The events have brought together stars from Formula One, IndyCar and IMSA.

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist was the highest-finishing professional driver in last Saturday’s event, finishing fifth behind a top four of full-time virtual racing gamers.

As a warmup to the next round of the All-Star series, The Race has invited IndyCar champions, 24 Hours of Le Mans winners and F1 titlists to compete.

Indianapolis 500 winners Helio Castroneves, Dario Franchitti, Juan Pablo Montoya and Tony Kanaan head the list of veterans in the race from IndyCar, which also will be represented by IndyCar on NBC analyst Paul Tracy, Gil de Ferran, Bryan Herta, Oriol Servia, Adrian Fernandez and Max Papis.

Two-time Formula One champion Emerson Fittipaldi (also an IndyCar veteran) will race along with Johnny Herbert. Also in the field: David Brabham and Jan Magnussen.

The Legends Trophy field will include 455 Formula One starts, 24 F1 wins, 2378 IndyCar starts, 177 IndyCar wins and eight overall or class victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Round 3 of The Race All-Star eSports Battle will include Rosenqvist, Montoya, Nelson Piquet Jr., Marcus Ericsson, Esteban Gutiérrez, Alexander Rossi, James Davison and Colton Herta.

Both the legends race and the main event will be streamed on The Race’s YouTube channel and other platforms.

Here’s the release:

A new Legends Trophy on The Race All-Star Esports Battle package will pit drivers including Emerson Fittipaldi, Dario Franchitti, Johnny Herbert and Helio Castroneves against each other in simracing.

The Legends Trophy is for drivers aged 40 and over, using identical cars.

It will run as a prelude to this Saturday’s third round of the All-Star Esports Battle.

The format will be simple, with qualifying deciding the starting order for the Esports race conducted on the rFactor 2 racing platform.

IndyCar champions, Le Mans 24 Hours winners and grand prix racers fill the list, with two-time Formula 1 world champion Fittipaldi and three-time Indianapolis 500 winners Castroneves and Franchitti among the first to join the event.

Other confirmed drivers include F1, IndyCar, NASCAR and IMSA race winner Juan Pablo Montoya; F1 race winner Herbert; Le Mans winner David Brabham; multiple Le Mans class winner and IMSA champion Jan Magnussen; IndyCar champion Paul Tracy (pictured below); Indy 500 winners and series champions Gil de Ferran and Tony Kanaan; IndyCar race winners Bryan Herta, Adrian Fernandez and Oriol Servia plus ex-F1, IndyCar and sportscar ace Max Papis.

“Simulators are extremely important because technically, they are so close to driving the real thing,” said Fittipaldi.

“You learn the track before you even arrive – where to brake, where to turn, even before arriving at any track in the world. And the feedback for the driver, the reaction, the reflex, the coordination, it’s a mental test and mental development for a young driver.

“I wish, in my time, we had simulators. My life would be much easier!”

Fittipaldi is looking forward to doing battle against some of his old rivals.

“I’ve raced against guys like Gil, Paul, Bryan and Adrian back in the day and it will be great to do battle again. This will be a lot of fun.”

Three-time Indy 500 winner Franchitti is keen to re-establish old rivalries.

“I’m really looking forward to this event and a chance to race with my old mates and competitors once again, hopefully with some really lairy cars and on a great track,” he said.

“I got introduced to the sim world via Darren Turner and his Base Simulator business and I am loving getting to grips some mega cars of yesteryear.

“The Legends grid that The Race has put together looks tremendous with some great buddies and old adversaries. It will be interesting to see which of the old men have reading glasses and which have bi-focals!”

The current line-up has an incredible 455 F1 starts, 24 F1 wins, 2378 IndyCar starts, 177 IndyCar wins plus eight overall or class victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The first All-Star Esport Battle was arranged in under 72 hours following the cancellation of the Australian GP. It attracted a live audience of over half a million viewers.

It placed some of the world’s top racing drivers against the best of the sim racing world. There was a $10,000 prize pool and the sim racers all received an appearance fee in order to boost their community during a hugely transitional time for the sport.

The second encounter drew an even larger number of real-world star racers. World’s Fastest Gamer winner Rudy van Buren triumphed, but DTM ace Daniel Juncadella and IndyCar sensation Felix Rosenqvist upheld the honour of the ‘worldies’.

The next instalment takes place at 4pm UK time on Saturday March 28. Both the Legends Trophy and the All-Star Battle will be streamed live on The Race’s YouTube channel.

Confirmed drivers for this week again include ex-F1 racers Montoya, Nelson Piquet Jr, Marcus Ericsson and Esteban Gutiérrez; Formula E stars Antonio Felix da Costa, Neel Jani, Nyck de Vries, Stoffel Vandoorne and Maximilian Gunther; IndyCar racers Rosenqvist, Alexander Rossi, James Davison and Colton Herta; DTM stars Philipp Eng, Juncadella and Bruno Spengler plus sportscar drivers Tom Dillmann, Charlie Eastwood, Jonny Adam and Nicki Thiim.

World’s Fastest Gamer winners James Baldwin and last week’s The Race All-Star Esports Battle winner van Buren lead another batch of talented online Esports racers taking on regular on-track racing rivals.

Justin Grant prevails over Kyle Larson in the Turkey Night Grand Prix

Grant Larson Turkey Night
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On the heels of his Hangtown 100 victory, Justin Grant worked his way from 13th in the Turkey Night Grand Prix to beat three-time event winner Kyle Larson by 1.367 seconds. The 81st annual event was run at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway for the sixth time.

“My dad used to take me to Irwindale Speedway, and we’d watch Turkey Night there every year,” Grant said in a series press release. “This is one of the races I fell in love with. I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to run in it, never thought I’d make a show and certainly never thought I’d be able to win one.”

With its genesis in 1934 at Gilmore Stadium, a quarter-mile dirt track in Los Angeles, the race is steeped in history with winners that include AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Gary Bettenhausen and Johnnie Parsons. Tony Stewart won it in 2000. Kyle Larson won his first of three Turkey Night Grands Prix in 2012. Christopher Bell earned his first of three in 2014, so Grant’s enthusiasm was well deserved.

So was the skepticism that he would win. He failed to crack the top five in three previous attempts, although he came close last year with a sixth-place result. When he lined up for the feature 13th in the crowded 28-car field, winning seemed like a longshot.

Grant watched as serious challengers fell by the wayside. Mitchel Moles flipped on Lap 10 of the feature. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid took a tumble on Lap 68 and World of Outlaws Sprint car driver Carson Macedo flipped on Lap 79. Grant saw the carnage ahead of him and held a steady wheel as he passed Tanner Thorson for the lead with 15 laps remaining and stayed out of trouble for the remainder of the event.

“It’s a dream come true to win the Turkey Night Grand Prix,” Grant said.


Kyle Larson follows Justin Grant to the front on Turkey Night

The 2012, 2016 and 2019 winner, Larson was not scheduled to run the event. His wife Katelyn is expecting their third child shortly, but after a couple of glasses of wine with Thanksgiving dinner and while watching some replays of the event, Larson texted car owner Chad Boat to see if he had a spare car lying around. He did.

“We weren’t great but just hung around and it seemed like anybody who got to the lead crashed and collected some people,” Larson said. “We made some passes throughout; in the mid-portion, we weren’t very good but then we got better at the end.

“I just ran really, really hard there, and knew I was running out of time, so I had to go. I made some pretty crazy and dumb moves, but I got to second and was hoping we could get a caution to get racing with Justin there. He was sliding himself at both ends and thought that maybe we could get a run and just out-angle him into [Turn] 1 and get clear off [Turn] 2 if we got a caution, but it just didn’t work out.”

Larson padded one of the most impressive stats in the history of this race, however. In 10 starts, he’s won three times, finished second four times, was third once and fourth twice.

Bryant Wiedeman took the final spot on the podium.

As Grant and Larson began to pick their way through the field, Kofoid took the lead early from the outside of the front row and led the first 44 laps of the race before handing it over to Cannon McIntosh, who bicycled on Lap 71 before landing on all fours. While Macedo and Thorson tussled for the lead with McIntosh, Grant closed in.

Thorson finished 19th with McIntosh 20th. Macedo recovered from his incident to finish ninth. Kofoid’s hard tumble relegated him to 23rd.

Jake Andreotti in fourth and Kevin Thomas, Jr. rounded out the top five.

1. Justin Grant (started 13)
2. Kyle Larson (22)
3. Bryant Wiedeman (4)
4. Jake Andreotti (9)
5. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1)
6. Logan Seavey (8)
7. Alex Bright (27)
8. Emerson Axsom (24)
9. Carson Macedo (7)
10. Jason McDougal (18)
11. Jake Swanson (16)
12. Chase Johnson (6)
13. Jacob Denney (26)
14. Ryan Timms (23)
15. Chance Crum (28)
16. Brenham Crouch (17)
17. Jonathan Beason (19)
18. Cade Lewis (14)
19. Tanner Thorson (11)
20. Cannon McIntosh (3)
21. Thomas Meseraull (15)
22. Tyler Courtney (21)
23. Buddy Kofoid (2)
24. Brody Fuson (5)
25. Mitchel Moles (20)
26. Daniel Whitley (10)
27. Kaylee Bryson (12)
28. Spencer Bayston (25)