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On The Road With Fast Eddie
The race circuit for the Race of Champions at Marlins Park in Miami. [Photo by Eddie LePine]
By Eddie LePine
For the first time the Race of Champions was going to be held in the US at Marlins Park in Miami and I wasn’t going to miss it. I am glad I went.
Frankly, it was one of the coolest events I have ever attended. With a field of internationally known drivers like Sebastian Vettel, Juan Pablo Montoya, Tom Kristinsen, Jenson Button and Ryan Hunter Reay, it promised to be an outstanding event, and I wasn’t disappointed. Drivers from all form of motorsports took part and the competition was intense on the tight and demanding ROC course that was set up in Marlins Park.
What was really impressive is how they turned a baseball stadium into a truly unique race track for this event. The work involved to make the transformation must have been unbelievable, and the final result was outstanding. I got a chance to experience the tight and challenging circuit when I got a ride with Jenson Button at race speeds. It was definitely a wild ride – full throttle, then hard braking, sliding through the corners, and the next thing you knew the lap was over.
Juan Montoya, who ended up winning the event overall told me that the circuit was very difficult to drive and the races were so short that even the smallest mistake would put you out of the running. “Today I am regretting not having done this before. It has been an amazing experience,” said Montoya. My good friend Tom Kristensen finished second overall, the fifth time he has reached the final in the ROC. Tom said afterward: “I’m proud to have made it to the final and I enjoy it immensely to be here. I’ve been retired for two years but coming here of course you don’t forget what you live for. We are racing drivers and to be invited to the Race of Champions brings the best out of us.”
All in all, it was an amazing experience and over 15,000 fans were on hand to watch the close and exciting racing. There is already talk about the event returning to Miami next year and I for one am looking forward to coming back.
Now it is on to Daytona for the Rolex 24. Time to get back on the road.
Motorsports historian Steve Zautke of www.RacingNation.com joins Matt Regashus of WSSP Sportsradio 1250AM Radio to talk open wheel racing monthly on the yet unnamed Open Wheel Podcast.