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On a dark and dreary day at the picturesque Watkins Glen International Speedway Mobil 1 racers swapped cars. At the end of it all they were nothing but smiles as each driver took their own car around the track for 3 or 4 laps and then they drove each others cars. The drivers were NASCAR’s Tony Stewart and F-1’s Lewis Hamilton.
[media-credit id=18 align=”alignright” width=”199″][/media-credit]This event marked the first time an active F-1 team has been at Watkins Glen since 1980 and comes on the 50th anniversary of F-1 first appearance here. The race track that they would drive on would be the full course that includes the infamous “boot” section that is not used during a NASCAR race. After everything was done Stewart said, “I wish we did run the boot, there’s a lot of opportunity to pass there. It’s different but I think we should race there.” It also marked the first time Stewart had run on rain tires.
Before they swapped cars the drivers came in the media center and seemed very relaxed as they explained how excited they were to do this. Hamilton was asked if he had a nickname, like Stewart did what would it be? He responded, “Bump, probably,” since he ran into so many cars lately. When Hamilton was asked what advice Stewart had given him about driving the road course he laughed and said, “Just go flat out, everywhere” to the laughter of the media center. But Hamilton did admit to being somewhat nervous about driving a stock car.
Then the drivers hit the track and each did a slow lap and then picked it up to speed. Hamilton went first and it appeared he hit the rev limiter and had some issues shifting. Compared to his own car it looked like the car was very slow. The F-1 car when Stewart was driving was much faster on the track than he was driving his own stock car.
In the media center afterwards the drivers, the crew, their staff, the track staff and even the media were all smiles. Hamilton was asked if he’d ever consider driving in NASCAR and he responded that his “goal was to be Formula 1 world champion and he had not met that goal.” Hamilton in the media center said, “I just feel like a kid today.” Stewart said that if he ever wanted to drive in NASCAR he wanted to get first crack at signing him.
There were about 10,000 fans in the grandstands on a dreary day. Track President Michael Printup said that he was very excited about how everything went and when asked about Stewart’s comments about driving the boot he said, “I am getting a message into Mr. Helton about this very topic tomorrow. We wouldn’t increase the length of the race we would decrease the laps. It would open up a huge area of the track. The fans would love it. It’s just a mile more.”
So all in all it seemed like a successful event. For more photos of this historic event see our special gallery here: