Legends Trophy

Legends Trophy will bring storied field to virtual Indy for May 23 race

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There will be no race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Memorial Day weekend with the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 postponed to Aug. 23 (and broadcast on NBC).

Some of the greatest winners in Indy 500 history will be racing at the virtual Brickyard on Saturday, May 23 (noon, ESPN2), though.

The Legends Trophy series, which has featured solely road courses (such as Portugal and Malaysia) through its first two rounds, will make its debut at IMS with a starting grid that includes 12 Indianapolis 500 victories, nine championships, 148 victories and 169 pole positions in IndyCar.

REAL FUN IN SIMULATIONDario Franchitti loving Legends Trophy experience

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Dario Franchitti, Gil de Ferran, Juan Pablo Montoya, Emerson Fittipaldi, Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan will be the Indy 500 winners competing in The Race All-Star Esports Series event.

They figure to have an edge on the Formula One, sports cars and rally champions in the field, including Jenson Button, Mika Salo, Jan Magnussen, David Brabham, Emanuele Pirro and Vitantonio Liuzzi all racing at Indy for the first time.

“It’s a place that changed my life forever by virtue of my three Indy 500 victories,” Franchitti said in a release. “While the rewards are brilliant, the pressure and stress to perform and make no mistakes at the speedway can be intense.

“It is definitely the ultimate motor racing high-wire act without a safety net. This virtual return will be ultra-competitive going against my pals, but definitely less stressful if something goes awry. I’ve sipped the real milk but some virtual milk would taste pretty good winning against these legendary names from so many disciplines of the sport.”

Here’s the release from the Legends Trophy:

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Wednesday, May 13, 2020) – Some of the biggest names in world motorsport, including star drivers who have 12 Indianapolis 500 wins between them, are set to race virtually at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 23.

The popular Legends Trophy stars from The Race All-Star Esports Series powered by ROKiT Phones will compete on the American Memorial Day weekend with Indianapolis 500 winners Fittipaldi (1989 and 1983), Montoya (2000 and 2015), Castroneves (2001, 2002 and 2009), de Ferran (2003), Franchitti (2007, 2010 and 2012) and Kanaan (2013) leading the pack.

While the real venue will remain idle over the Memorial Day weekend, the action from the virtual rFactor 2 version will be fierce with a number of major stars competing on the Indianapolis oval for the first time in the event created by Torque Esports (OTCQB: MLLLF) (TSXV: GAME).

2009 Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button plus fellow ex-Formula 1 racers Mika Salo, Jan Magnussen, David Brabham, Emanuele Pirro, and Vitantonio Liuzzi will race at Indy for the first time.

The field also includes more former INDYCAR/Champ Car stars including Max Papis (who also drove in Formula 1), Bryan Herta (a two-time Indy 500 winner as a team owner), Adrián Fernández, Mario Dominguez, Michel Jourdain Jr., Oriol Servia and Tiago Monteiro.

Monteiro’s touring car rivals Tom Coronel, Jason Plato, and three-time WTCC champion Andy Priaulx will compete along with World Rally Championship title winner Petter Solberg and Le Mans ace Darren Turner.

“I’m excited about heading to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the Legends Trophy,” Franchitti said.

“It’s a place that changed my life forever by virtue of my three Indy 500 victories. While the rewards are brilliant, the pressure and stress to perform and make no mistakes at the speedway can be intense.

“It is definitely the ultimate motor racing high-wire act without a safety net. This virtual return will be ultra-competitive going against my pals, but definitely less stressful if something goes awry. I’ve sipped the real milk but some virtual milk would taste pretty good winning against these legendary names from so many disciplines of the sport.”

The incredible star-studded line-up includes:

  • 12 x Indy 500 wins. 9 INDYCAR titles, 2,320 starts, 148 wins, 169 poles
  • 7 x F1 World Championships. 1,103 starts, 89 wins, 84 poles
  • 18 Le Mans wins, 3 x WTCC titles, 2 x World Rallycross Championships and 1 x World Rally Championship crown

Button raced in Formula 1 on seven occasions in Indianapolis, but the May 23 Indianapolis race will be his first chance to race – albeit virtually – on the Indianapolis Oval.

“I always said I wouldn’t race on ovals, but here I am competing against some of the best in the business at Indianapolis,” Button said.

“The Legends Trophy has been a lot of fun to race against great friends and rivals and guys I wished I had had the chance to compete against. Now racing on the oval will be another great challenge, and I’m really looking forward to it.”

The Indianapolis event will be the fourth round of season two of The Race All-Star Series, which also includes separate events for modern-day racers – the Pro Cup – and the world’s top esports racers – the Sim Masters.

The race will be seen live on ESPN2 in the US; in the UK on Eurosport; across Europe on Eurosport’s social media and digital platforms and online on The-Race.com/YouTube. Highlights will also be distributed to 71 international networks with a global reach of more than 610 million homes.

“The original event for The Race All-Star Esports Series went from concept to reality in only 72 hours, and we quickly started attracting these incredible legends who were looking for the opportunity to race virtually,” series founder Darren Cox said.

“After we launched our first exclusive Legends Trophy event, we’ve been astounded by the number of racing superstars who were keen to compete. Not only has the racing been fantastic, but the camaraderie between these drivers has been just brilliant.

“With so many Indianapolis 500 legends in the field, it made perfect sense for us to compete on the Memorial Day weekend. Everyone is disappointed that this amazing venue is quiet during the month of May this year, but the chance for fans to watch Fittipaldi, Montoya, Castroneves, de Ferran, Franchitti, Kanaan and more compete on ESPN2, Eurosport, YouTube and more is just too good to be true.”

The Race All-Star Series powered by ROKiT Phones was created by Torque Esports, which expanded on Monday with the acquisition of Frankly Inc. and WinView, Inc. The soon-to-be-renamed company – Engine Media Holdings, Inc – will be at the forefront of esports, news streaming, and sports gaming across multiple media platforms.

IndyCar: Tony Kanaan’s ‘Last Lap’ begins at Texas Motor Speedway

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The streak lives for Tony Kanaan. At least for one more race.

With Kanaan running only ovals during his farewell IndyCar season in 2020 – which has been dubbed the “Last Lap” – his record streak of 317 consecutive Indy-car starts was to end with the season opener March 15 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Fate had other plans. The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic forced the postponement of St. Pete (now the season finale in October) amid the shutdown of American sports.

IndyCar has made multiple changes to its 2020 schedule since then, and as a result, Kanaan is getting an opportunity to extend his “Ironman” streak.

The 2004 NTT IndyCar Series champion and 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner is set for career start No. 318 on Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway – driving the No. 14 A.J. Foyt Racing Chevrolet alongside the team’s new full-season driver, Charlie Kimball, in the No. 4 Chevy.

“A lot of people ask me how I coped with the delay of the season,” Kanaan said Monday in an IndyCar Zoom news conference. “To be honest, I was mentally prepared already because my first real race was going to be the [Indy] 500. My mind was already set for May.

“I only really had to delay, what, a couple of weeks from what I was originally scheduled to do. For me, I think it wasn’t as hard as for the other guys that were already in St. Pete, ready to go.”

But while his mindset is locked in, Kanaan notes that he’s been out of a race car for eight months. In fact, as of Monday, he hadn’t sat in a car fitted with the new Aeroscreen cockpit protection system.

However, he is no stranger to the wild and woolly action at Texas. Ditto for his new-slash-old teammate, Kimball: The two competed together at Chip Ganassi Racing from 2014-17.

That experience is something A.J. Foyt Racing team president Larry Foyt is grateful to have on his side.

“Going into this race, it’s huge,” Foyt said. “Especially with the one-day show, everything is accelerated, and going to a big track like Texas, having a guy like Charlie sit on the pole there [in 2017], knows his way around there, and obviously TK is very good there, as well.

“It’s a little bit of peace of mind for sure. Anything can happen, but the engineering group has been working really well together. We’re really hopeful we’re going to unload and get these guys some good cars out of the box. That’s the plan.”

Speaking of Kimball, the Californian is set to revive his full-time career in the sport after making just seven starts last season with Carlin.

He’s enjoyed his unexpected free time at home with his wife, Kathleen, and their two children, Hannah and newborn son Gordon, who arrived in March. But he’s grateful to get back in the car – and to accompany Tony on his ‘last lap.’

“We’re friends off the track,” Charlie said. “We train together. He’s gotten me addicted to riding a bicycle on a computer game, but also our wives are friends, and I think our families when we can get together and the kids can play, I think they’re going to interact really well. I’m excited for his daughter Nina to spend some time with our daughter.

“And the experience – I mean, he’s taught me things and I’ve learned a lot from him about how to restart on ovals and what you can and what you should and shouldn’t do and what he still does. That experience is invaluable to me to continue to learn and get better. I just feel really honored to be his teammate during his last lap, especially when we get back to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Indy 500.”

The NTT IndyCar Series season begins Saturday night from Texas Motor Speedway with the Genesys 300 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. The race will also stream on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.