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

Legends Trophy
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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.

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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.

Lessons learned in three rounds of Extreme E pay huge dividends in the Copper X Prix for Tanner Foust

Foust Copper X Prix
McLaren Racing
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To paraphrase the Grateful Dead, what a long, unique trip it’s been for Tanner Foust in his first season with the Extreme E series as he took his early season lessons to Chile to compete in the Copper X Prix. And he’s learned his lessons well.

In February, McLaren announced they would expand their motorsports program with an Extreme E entry. They signed two talented rally drivers in Foust and Emma Gilmour – and paired them for the opening round in Neom, Saudi Arabia with just a few days of testing under their belts. Baked by the Arabian desert sun, it was trial by fire.

The duo performed well in their debut, advancing into the final round and finishing fifth. As Extreme E headed to another desert halfway across the globe for Round 4, it was a good time to catch up with Foust and ask about McLaren’s progress. The Copper X Prix was held this past weekend in one of the most extreme regions in the world: the Atacama Desert.

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“The shock going into the first race was the speed,” Foust told NBC Sports. “It was much higher than we had tested. We spent a lot of time around 100 miles per hour [in race trim] and our testing speeds were more in the 60 to 70-mile range. Then, once we sort of got around that, the car got updated so you can drive it even faster.”

In rally racing, some incidents are out of a driver’s control. Even peeking around another car can be dangerous because of potholes that have recently been gouged in the ground or large bushes that seem to sprout up between laps. A couple of rollovers brought Foust back to earth – but the pace was there and that was important.

“We had some challenges this season,” Foust said prior to the Copper X Prix. “We had a good start; made the final, which is a difficult thing to do in this series. I had two rolls in the first three events, but I have improved each time. Now we come into Round 4 in Chile in a pretty strong position. We have competitive times as a team. We are communicating really well and have our heads around this Odyssey vehicle.”

Foust’s words proved to be prophetic.

He won the Crazy Race – Extreme E’s version of a Last Chance Qualifier – and did so after passing the field. It was the same manner in which he qualified for Saudi Arabia’s finale, but this time things would be better. There were those hard-earned lessons on which to lean – and Foust had reps under his belt. He was not going to be caught off guard by any random obstacles.

Tanner Foust passed Sebastien Loeb heading to the Switch Zone in the Copper X Prix. (Photo by Sam Bagnall / LAT Images)

In the Copper X Prix finale, he pressured one of the best rally drivers in the history of the sport.

Pitching sideways through a tight left-hander late in his stint, Foust put his McLaren Extreme E Odyssey at the head of the pack in front of Sebastien Loeb as they headed to the Switch Zone. There, he would turn the car over to his co-driver Gilmour.

The Extreme E series pairs male and female drivers with both taking a turn behind the wheel.

After the driver change, Gilmour lost the lead momentarily to Loeb’s teammate Cristina Gutierrez, but as they charged toward the finish line, she surged ahead and crossed under the checkers first.

“What an improvement for the team over this year,” Foust said after the race. “We have struggled through some of the events, being in our first year in competition. We showed true pace this weekend; overtaking Sebastien Loeb was a highlight.

“Emma put in a great run in the Final. I was fortunate to go from last to first in the Crazy Race and then first in the Final but with some flag penalties, we had 20 seconds added to our time, which put us into fifth. It was a great feeling crossing the line first, I love this wide style track and the NEOM McLaren Odyssey was fantastic here.

“Hopefully we can continue that momentum into Uruguay.”

Loeb and Gutierrez were elevated to the top of the podium, but no one can take away the feeling of crossing under the checkers first.


Racing Responsibly

Since cars were first invented, racing has played a socially responsible role by improving safety. As Earth reaches a tipping point with climate change, racing needs to adapt to these new needs and requirements, which is where Extreme E’s unique strategy becomes increasingly important.

The Extreme E experience is more than simple racing. Each race is accompanied by a legacy program designed to offset damage done by climate change and to erase the footprint caused by the events.

Foust, a biology major from the University of Colorado, was given the chance to rekindle his interest and give back to the environment ahead of the Copper X Prix.

The Atacama is the oldest desert in the world at 150 million years. It is the driest place on earth and has the highest degree of ultraviolet light. And yet somehow life perseveres through underground rivers with oases dating back to Incan times. Foust participated in preparing a local habitat for the reintroduction of a critically endangered water frog to Chile’s longest river, the Loa, which snakes its way through the desert.

“I’m loving the experience,” Foust said. “I’m putting on a lot of Chapstick, a lot of sunscreen. What a fascinating part of the world. I never would have come here otherwise.

“I honestly am very honored to be a part of this sport. I am a huge believer in the fact that motorsports has done us good in the last 100 years. I think we benefit every single time we put our seatbelts on and drive down the road to the lessons learned in racing since the turn of the century. And I really hope motorsports continues that tradition.

“I think that motorsports like [Extreme E] does it in a responsible way, a gender-neutral way and a carbon-neutral way.”