As Sunday grows closer, I have been giving a lot of thought to just how special the day before Memorial Day is. It is unlike anything in sports. It is an opportunity to give the spotlight to events that are almost always overlooked by Americans, and that is the day when the top three divisions in all of motorsports hold their crown jewel races. Formula One has the Monaco Grand Prix, IndyCar has the Indianapolis 500, and NASCAR has the Coca-Cola 600. They all take place on this special day. Nearly 15 hours of exciting racing from the morning until the evening and here are the reasons why each race is special and should be watched across the country.
Monaco Grand Prix
The pristine location of Monaco is enough to sell the visuals of this special race. Bordered by France and the Mediterranean Sea, the minuscule country plays host to the race that is seen as the most important in all of Formula One and one of the main events of the year in all of racing. The course is known for its tight corners and narrow straightaways to make demands harder for drivers. The circuit also passes by the famous harbor where two cars have fallen into the race’s history. The tunnel creates a sharp contrast between daylight and darkness that is unique to Monaco and not an obstacle on any other circuit in the world. The best part about the event is that it takes place during the morning in the United States. Wake up, eat your breakfast, and turn on ESPN to kick off the best day in sports with the Monaco Grand Prix.
Immediately after the Monaco Grand Prix concludes, flip over to NBC for the fastest sporting event in the world, the Indianapolis 500. Indianapolis Motor Speedway, otherwise known as the Brickyard, plays host to 33 drivers vying for a chance to kiss the bricks, drink the milk, and be immortalized as an Indy 500 champion. What other event is there in the world where you can watch cars hit 240 miles per hour in straightaways and 230 miles per hour in corners? None of them. Even as just a fan of the sport with nothing on the line, it is hard not to watch this race without white knuckles due to the fact that a single inch of a mistake could lead to disaster. The drafting that leads to passes in the straightaways is some of the most blood-pumping, adrenaline-rushing moments that you will experience in your life. This is the only race where you could see cars fly 20-25 feet in the air, thanks to the speeds and the lightness of the cars or see a driver with a big lead crash in the final corner of the final lap as is what happened to J.R. Hildebrand back at the 2011 Indy 500 race. You never know what can happen in this race and is why your eyes need to be on the Indy 500 in four days.
The biggest endurance test of the year for NASCAR takes place at Charlotte Motor Speedway as 40 drivers will go around the 1.5-mile circuit for 400 high-octane laps. The Coke 600 gives fans and the country a chance to pay respect to the military and to honor the nation that protects its freedom for citizens. The cars are given military or USA-themed paint schemes. Some cars will be decked out completely in camouflage while other cars will be showing off the iconic red, white, and blue colors of the American Flag. The race will begin at sunset and end under the lights, which will challenge the drivers and crews to make the proper adjustments to find the right setup that will make the car work when the track is hot and slick to when the track is cooler and has more grip. It is a race of patience and knowing when to push your car as many engines have blown and many fuel tanks have been emptied before the race ends ruining a driver’s day. More eyes will be on this race than ever before as fans and media alike will be interested in how the aero package changes the racing over the four-plus hours that the race takes. Will long green flag runs spread the field out like a normal race? Will the cars run close together like at Kansas? Will it be easier or harder to make clean passes? So many variables are yet to be answered, which is why there is no better way to end your Sunday than with the Coca-Cola 600.
How to Watch
Coverage for the Monaco Grand Prix will be on ESPN, beginning at 6:05 am PT/9:05 am ET. Coverage for the Indianapolis 500 will be on NBC, beginning at 8:00 am PT/11:00 am ET with the pre-race show. Race coverage begins at 9:00 am PT/12:00 pm ET also on NBC. Coverage for the Coca-Cola 600 will be on FOX, beginning at 3:00pm PT/6:00 pm ET.
Whether you are a racing fan or not, if you enjoy entertainment and sports, your eyes need to be on all three of these great races. The narrative that all racing is boring needs to be broken and the nation can change that by giving motorsports a chance. Watch it, learn from the commentators, and just embrace something new. Let’s go racing, ladies and gentlemen!