What a weekend for racing coming!

High school freshman Matt Boyd celebrates with IZOD IndyCar Series driver James Hinchcliffe after...

High school freshman Matt Boyd celebrates with IZOD IndyCar Series driver James Hinchcliffe after Boyd won a 2012 Chevrolet Camaro at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Tex., May 21, 2012 (Tom Pennington/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway/AFP)

Dean McNulty, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:39 PM ET

This Sunday is the greatest day of the year on the motor racing calendar.

It is Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day all rolled into one 18-hour extravaganza of horsepower and speed.

First off there is the glamorous Formula One Grand Prix of Monaco, where the real and pretend Euro celebs will gather on the streets of a principality that runs on gambling to watch as world’s fastest cars crawl around a temporary circuit more suited to bicycles and pedestrians than ultra modern F-1 chassis.

There will be more champagne spilt before noon than would be consumed in a week in Canada.

The racing, however, should be the most intense in a decade with the F-1 season, so far, as competitive as any time in its storied history.

In five Grands Prix that have been run there, there have been five winners: Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel and the surprising Pastor Maldonado.

Next up, just after digesting the delights of Monaco, the curtain rises of the 96th running of the Indianapolis 500, the most famous oval race in the world.

For Canadians it is another year of having a native son on the front row.

Last season Montreal’s Alex Tagliani became the first from this country to win the pole position.

On Sunday, Oakville’s James Hinchcliffe will start second, in the middle of the front row.

It will also mark the first time in too long that competing manufacturers — Honda, Chevrolet and Lotus — will battle it out for bragging rights after 200 trips around the 2.5-mile oval that is Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Although the Penske Racing team has dominated the IZOD IndyCar season so far — winning all four races, three by Will Power and another by Helio Castroneves — it is expected that the true test of who will win the season championship will come on Sunday.

No sooner will the traditional bottle of milk be drunk at Indianapolis than the green flag will drop to start the longest and toughest race on the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule — the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Just as F-1 and IndyCar feature tight championship races, Sprint Cup may be even closer.

Going into Charlotte, leader Greg Biffle leads Matt Kenseth by just two points and is only 14 points clear of Dale Earnhardt Jr.

In fact there is only 39 points separating Biffle from seventh place Jimmie Johnson.

NASCAR has tweaked the rules for this race, giving the cars much less downforce.

The result should be far more passing and far more close quarter racing, something that many feel has disappeared this season in the top stock car racing loop.

So buckle up and start the remote.

FINISH LINES

Just how long does its take to run the Coca-Cola 600? Well, four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon — a three time winner of NASCAR’s longest race, finished second to Dale Earnhardt in his rookie year of 1993. But less than half way through the race he radioed his team thinking he was close to the finish. “They told me we weren’t even halfway yet,” Gordon said. “That race felt a thousand miles.” ... Toyota became the third manufacturer to unveil its new model of the 2013 Sprint Cup series Tuesday in a media event at Charlotte. The Toyota Camry, like the Ford Fusion and Dodge Challenger before it, looks a whole lot more like the showroom car than previous models. Chevrolet is expected to roll out its new SS model in the coming weeks. ... It is looking more and more like Michael Schumacher’s retirement interrupted career may be finally coming to a close. Mercedes F-1 boss Nick Fry told Britain’s Daily Mail this week that the seven-time world champion could hang up his driver’s suit at the end this season if he doesn’t improve his position on the track. “I am sure if we get to the end of this year and it continues as it has done for the last few races, I think he will probably be asking himself that question,” Fry said. And Fry indicated that Force India’s Paul di Resta would be his pick to replace Schumacher on the team.

Whole lotta cash comin’

Just when we start to believe all those horror stories about how hard it is for teams in big-time racing series to make a go of it along comes something that just slaps those theories silly.

This week CVC Capital, which is the rights owner for everything in the Formula One world championship, sold off a small piece of its mammoth F-1 shares.

For 20% of its holdings in F-1 CVC was paid $1.6 billion U.S. by a group of investors led by an American outfit called BlackRock, believed to be the world’s largest asset manager.

Now the interesting part of the deal is that CVC is planning to go ahead in the near future with an Initial Public Offering — just like Facebook did last week.

CVC said it plans on making another 40% of the F-1 piggy bank available in this IPO, while retaining 40% for itself.

Add all that up and it makes the F-1 travelling circus worth more than $8 billion.

And CVC gets to keep control of the whole thing.

So the next time F-1 boss Bernie Ecclestone stands on a box preaching to F-1 teams that they must cut costs or the series will die, we’ll just laugh.

 

Starting well back a bonus to win Indy?

Spanish driver Oriol Servia will start on the second last row — 27th — in Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 in the No. 22 Panther/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet.

But the veteran IZOD IndyCar Series pilot thinks that coming from the rear of the grid he has a better chance to win the big race than pole sitter Ryan Briscoe.

“Probably more than any other race, the guy that’s on pole doesn’t win it,” Servia said. “We’re going to make it interesting. We’re going to start at the back and move forward.

“This race, especially, has been won from the back many times. If you have a good car, you can definitely go forward.”

Embrace the future

There is now a distinct possibility that Canadian sports car racing fans will get a look at the radically designed DeltaWing car in action next summer.

The car is entered in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Marino Franchitti behind the wheel on June 3, not in competition but as an unclassified new technology car as it does not conform to current Le Mans rules.

And car owner Don Panoz hopes to enter it in the 2013 American Le Mans Series with a stop at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.

Certainly Franchitti, the younger brother of IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti, would be he perfect candidate to drive the DeltaWing on CTMP’s Grand Prix course.

Franchitti is a veteran of the four-km, 10-turn track, having raced there with Panoz Motorsports, Drayson Racing and Highcroft Racing in the GT1 and LMP1 classes.

Panoz said the Le Mans race is all about showing how the DeltaWing can perform on the world’s biggest sports car stage.

“We are under no illusions about running at the front of the field nor actually making it to the finish,” he said. “Getting to the end would be truly remarkable, but our goal will be to showcase the possibilities for the future.”

As for a trip to CTMP in 2013, Panoz thinks it’s all but a done deal.

“As custodians of the American Le Mans Series, we’d love to see the car race in our series and we believe it would be a huge attraction.”

 


Videos

Photos