|Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images|
Hardcore race fans will awaken extremely early to watch the Grand Prix of Monaco and be entertained by the technological series that Formula 1 is. Heralded as both the slowest and the hardest to win on the circuit, the Grand Prix of Monaco is dramatic to say the least. The slightest error could be instantly fatal. Mythical names like Senna, Prost, Fangio, and Schumacher have all claimed victory and it’s anybody’s guess who will chisel their name next to these greats in 2012.
Once F1 hands out their trophies from Monaco, the IndyCar Series will flex its collective muscle with the 96th Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS).
A pall will be cast on the day as the defending champion will be unable to repeat his victory as he, Dan Wheldon, died at the season closer race in October of 2011. As a show of respect, Wheldon will be honored throughout the festivities.
The IndyCar Series will have all entries featuring a turbocharged engine, the first time since 1996. In addition, as part of the ICONIC Project all entries will be brand new model-year chassis.
Sadly, Indiana native and longtime friend of IMS and the Indy 500, Jim Nabors, who has traditionally sung "Back Home Again in Indiana" during the pre-race ceremonies in most years since 1972, will not be able to attend the race due to failing health. Reportedly a film crew will be sent from IMS to his home in Hawaii to record him performing the song which will be aired in his regular morning timeslot.
Names like Franchitti, Castroneves, Power, Legge, F1 veteran but IndyCar rookie Barrichello, and last year’s almost-winner Hildebrand will be racing for Indy’s top prize.
Finally, for those NASCAR fans who were biding their time until the sun started to wane just a bit, the Coca Cola 600, formerly the much cooler-named World 600, will begin for high-energy racing under the lights at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
After the tease of the All-Star Race the week before, the Coca Cola 600 is a test of endurance that pits NASCAR’s field in a grudge match made in Racing Heaven.
No doubt the stories will swirl around the Roush-Fenway drivers who are atop the NASCAR Sprint Cup leaderboard. Biffle, Kenseth, and Edwards all going for gold.
Junior Nation will emphatically cheer on their Prodigal Son.
And, whereas her day would have been long over back in her IndyCar days, Danica Patrick in only her third NASCAR Sprint Cup start, will try to dazzle her fans and mute her detractors with her performance.
Names like Kahne, Keselowski, Harvick, and Busch will also be vying for top honors.
It’s not a day for lightweights; this much racing takes pacing, perseverance, and pure adulation. As I like to believe, this day of racing saves the best for last.
Having a marathon day of racing culminate in the Coca Cola 600 is yet another reason why I love NASCAR.