IndyCar drivers from British Commonwealth mourn the death of Queen Elizabeth II

IndyCar drivers remember Queen
Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images
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God save our gracious Queen. Long live our noble Queen. God save the Queen! 

MONTEREY, California – When she ascended to the throne as Queen Elizabeth II following the death of her father, George VI on February 6, 1952, these are the words that every member of the vast British Commonwealth knew as their national anthem.

The official coronation was June 2, 1953, and Queen Elizabeth oversaw a vast British Empire. Through colonization of lands around the world, it was once said, “The sun never sets on the British Empire” because somewhere around the world, a nation or a territory was under British control.

That is why the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, has such a profound effect on many drivers in the NTT IndyCar Series.

“She was a wonderful woman,” four-time IndyCar champion and three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti told NBC Sports. “That is the best way to describe her, an absolutely wonderful woman.”

Franchitti is from Edinburgh, Scotland, and part of the United Kingdom, which also includes England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

But there are 15 countries part of the British Commonwealth including Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Soloman Islands, Tuvalu, and the United Kingdom.

From 1841 to 1997, Hong Kong was a colony and under British Rule before it agreed to return the massive city to China. South Africa was a British colony until 1961.

The NTT IndyCar Series includes drivers Scott McLaughlin of Christchurch, New Zealand; Scott Dixon of Auckland, New Zealand; Will Power of Toowoomba, Australia; Callum Ilott of Cambridge, United Kingdom; Jack Harvey of Bassingham, United Kingdom, Stefan Wilson of Sheffield, United Kingdom and Devlin DeFrancesco and Dalton Kellett from Toronto, Canada.

Though each nation has a soverign government, Queen Elizabeth II served as the official head of state.

Upon her death, it was the first time those drivers of those respective lands never have had a queen as their official head of state.

Ilott, 23, is among one of the younger drivers in IndyCar. The member of Juncos Hollinger Racing spoke of the magnitude of the moment.

“For me and my mum, she was a symbol of our country,” Ilott said. “She was an icon of what we are, to be British. She was the most British person there was. As a country, her loss is super sad and touched me in ways I couldn’t think of before.

“It’s weird because you would see her on the paper notes, on the coins, you would see her on TV every Christmas day. It was support for the country we will miss very dearly.”

The Monarchy and the Royal Family are one of the things that make the British Empire and the United Kingdom so unique.

Attend an NHL game in Canada, and the Queen’s photo hangs high above the ice in the arena.

“Here’s the simple way with the monarchy, they are there in times of need,” Ilott said. “The country is run by the government itself, but if there is ever anarchy or something, they can step in and take over.

“They are always there. The background support for everyone, whether it is emotional, it’s quite personal to a lot of people in the UK.

“They are the face of me, the face of the country, the face of the flag and for quite a lot of world whether people like it or not.”

Arrow McLaren SP is an IndyCar team that has majority control by McLaren, a racing and automotive brand that was founded by New Zealand’s Bruce McLaren. The McLaren Formula One team is based in Woking, England.

The McLaren Technology Centre was officially opened by the Queen back in 2004, and the team expressed its sadness.

“The team at McLaren Racing mourn the sad passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, whilst also remembering her incredible reign. Our thoughts are with The Royal Family and people around the world during this terribly sad time.”

Her Majesty’s death has had an even bigger impact on teams and drivers in Formula One. But many of IndyCar’s top drivers are among the millions mourning the loss of the Queen, who was such a vital part of their culture.

The United Kingdom’s period of official lasts for 10 days though her funeral Monday, Sept. 19.

With the Queen’s passing, her son, King Charles III, has ascended to the throne.

God save our gracious King. Long live our noble King. God save the King! 

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500 

Houston Supercross by the numbers: Five riders begin to gap the field

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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.

Houston Supercross numbers
Cooper Webb’s ability to close races makes him a Houston favorite. – Feld Motor Sports

Despite an accident in his heat in San Diego that sent him to the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ), Sexton recovered to score a top-five that weekend. His podium finish in Anaheim 1 and overall win last week in Anaheim 2 makes him one of the three riders with a perfect top-five record. He is joined by Cooper Webb, who finished second in the first two rounds and fourth last week, and Ken Roczen, whose consistency in the first three races contributed to him grabbing the top spot in this week’s NBC Supercross Power Rankings.

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 during the inaugural season of 1974 on a 250, which was the premiere class at the time. Houston was one of three races held that year along with events at Daytona International Speedway and the Los Angeles Coliseum. All three venues return in 2023 with the first SuperMotocross championship finale returning to the famed LA Coliseum in September.

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.

Michael Mosiman scored his first 250 win last year in San Diego. – Feld Motor Sports

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.

The other 250 riders with 2022 wins this week are Mosiman, who earned his first Supercross win last year in San Diego, and Nate Thrasher, who became the fifth new class winner at Daytona.

Jeremy Martin will attempt to extend a record this week in Houston. His division leading SuperMotocross podiums number 65. He has 26 wins in the combined sessions, which ranks fourth all time.

Last Five Houston Winners

450s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Cooper Webb
2021, Race 2: Eli Tomac
2021, Race 1: Justin Barcia
2020, no race
2019, Cooper Webb
2018, Jason Anderson

250s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Colt Nichols
2021, Race 2: Jett Lawrence
2021, Race 1: Christian Craig
2020, no race
2019, Dylan Ferrandis
2018, Aaron Plessinger

By the Numbers

Anaheim 2
San Diego

More SuperMotocross coverage

Supercross unveils 16th edition of a Ricky Carmichael designed Daytona track
Power Rankings after week 3
Malcom Stewart out for “extended duration” after knee surgery
Haiden Deegan makes Supercross debut in Houston, Justin Cooper to 450s
Talon Hawkins set to relieve injured Jalek Swoll in Houston
Jalek Swoll out for an indefinite period with broken arm
Ken Roczen urgently needed a change
Chris Blose joins Pro Circuit Kawasaki in 250 East opener
Seth Hammaker to miss Houston with wrist injury
Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list
Injury sidelines Austin Forkner for remainder of 2023 SX
Chase Sexton wins Anaheim 2 in 450s; Levi Kitchen takes 250s
Results and points from Anaheim 2