It’s that time again. The day when three of the world’s greatest motor sport spectacles coincide on one date: the Monaco GP, Indianapolis 500, and Coca-Cola 600. Presented one after another, race fans everywhere will be glued to their screens for the entirety of May 29th. Not only is it a joyous day for more general race fans, it also provides a great incentive for new or series-specific race fans to branch out with prime examples of each motorsport. All of this racing is hard enough to keep up with, even for dedicated fans. So for fans, new and old, here are a few key stories to watch for in each event this weekend:
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Formula 1: Monaco GP
Starting with the first race of the day, the Monaco GP is among Formula 1‘s greatest spectacles. A course that is very closely tied with the memory of racing legend Ayrton Senna, Monaco has proven to be arguably F1’s most iconic circuit. This tight street circuit has proven to be among the sport’s most difficult and exciting races. With a glamorous air and visually striking track, the Monaco Grand Prix is a must-watch for any racing fan and a great introduction to the sport for newcomers.
What to watch for:
The previous race, the Spanish GP, saw Max Verstappen become the youngest winner in the history of Formula 1. With this came the first losing race of the year for Mercedes AMG with dominant drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg knocking each other out of contention in the first lap of the race. With this new rift amongst Formula 1’s most dominant team, Red Bull Racing has capitalized on the situation and took the win with Verstappen and dominated practice with Daniel Ricciardo. Now is a great time to introduce fans who have previously been uninterested in Formula 1 due to the dominance of Mercedes. With Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Ferrari picking up the pace and improving their own results, coupled with doubts of Hamilton and Rosberg’s stability as teammates, we could see another new face on the top of the podium this weekend. Regardless of the results, Monaco is simply the most striking course on the schedule and is not a race to miss.
IndyCar: 100th Indianapolis 500
On any year, the Indianapolis 500 is not a race to miss. Steeped in so much history and prestige, every year the winner becomes a legend in the eyes of the sport. The 2016 Indy 500 will be even more prestigious, as it is the 100th running of the legendary event. Celebrating 100 years of IndyCar‘s crown jewel is a landmark race fans cannot afford to miss, as the winner of this event will be receiving a century’s worth of glory.
What to watch for:
Undoubtedly, the most talked about driver going into the milestone race is Canadian driver James Hinchcliffe. In practicing for the 2015 Indianapolis 500, the driver very nearly lost his life in a terrifying accident. One year later, Hinchcliffe will be starting the race from pole position. This tremendous return to form exactly one year from his horrific accident has obviously been a source of much attention, but Hinchcliffe told CBC “I came into the month of May really hoping that by the time we left, we’d have a new story to tell”. Despite an obvious desire to move on from the incident, the pole sitter admitted “It’s a hell of a story”. If Hinchcliffe is able to turn a great qualifying run into a victory he would be writing himself into the history books. Not only as the winner of the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500, but as only the second Canadian to win the event. Currently, the lone win is held by 1995 Indy 500 and 1997 F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve.
NASCAR: Coca-Cola 600
Racing’s biggest weekend is capped off by NASCAR‘s longest event of the season. The Coca-Cola 600 is known for many racing feats, one of the most iconic being Jeff Gordon‘s first Cup Series victory in 1994. On rare occasions the race is run by drivers who have just finished the Indianapolis 500 and flown to Charlotte Motor Speedway in what is called “Double Duty”. This is one of motorsport’s most impressive feats, as in completing both races the drivers would have run 1100 miles in a single race day. The most notable “Double Duty” was run in 2001 by Tony Stewart, finishing in the top 10 of the Indy 500 and the top 5 of the Coke 600. Most recently, Kurt Busch competed in both events in 2014, but was unable to finish the Coke 600. Although there will not be any drivers running both races in 2016, it is an often discussed and very impressive factor of the event due to the race’s advanced length.
What to watch for:
The previous week on the NASCAR schedule saw the All-Star Race take place on the same Charlotte Motor Speedway that holds the Coca-Cola 600. Among that weekend’s standouts were among the brightest stars of NASCAR’s future, Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott. Larson won the Sprint Showdown to race his way into the All-Star Race, just barely edging out Elliott with a side-by-side finish. After racing his way into the event, Larson very nearly won the million dollar prize but hit the wall with 3 laps remaining. Although this would not have counted as Larson’s first win (the All-Star Race is not for points), his performance in the event as well as his victory in the Showdown shows his proficiency at the course. One week prior, the AAA 400 Drive for Autism at Dover International Speedway saw Larson finish 2nd and Elliott finish 3rd. With the way these two young drivers have been performing in the weeks leading up to the event, it is possible that one could take their first win at the 2016 Coca-Cola 600. If Chase Elliott were to win, the driver of the 24 car would mirror the first victory of the number’s most iconic driver, Jeff Gordon.