JANUARY 18, 2006
International Race of Champions?
The baseball World Series is a contest limited to teams from the United States and Canada as it is assumed that no-one outside Major League Baseball could win. Attempts to allow Japanese or Latin American teams compete have, so far, failed. It is a very similar story with the International Race of Champions which ignores the fact that there is motorsport beyond the shores of the United States.
This year's field consists of Mark Martin (who has never won the NASCAR title), NASCAR's Nextel Cup winner Tony Stewart; Busch series winner Martin Truex Jr; Craftsman Truck champion Ted Musgrave plus the World of Outlaws champion Steve Kinser and Frank Kimmel, who has won the ARCA Re/Max Series. GrandAm supplies Max Angelelli and Wayne Taylor, who won the title last year while the field is padded out with IRL's Sam Hornish and Scott Sharp, plus NASCAR's Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth and Max Papis, the only man to have experience (albeit brief) in F1 back in 1995.
When IROC began back in 1974 the series included F1 drivers Emerson Fittipaldi and Denny Hulme and early competitors included Ronnie Peterson, Jody Scheckter, James Hunt, Mario Andretti, Jacky Ickx, Alan Jones, Clay Regazzoni, John Watson and others but since the 1980s the only men racing have been those competing in America. Back in 1990 Martin Brundle gave the Good Old Boys a shock by beating them at Cleveland and last year Sebastien Bourdais gave them another taste of defeat at the Texas Motor Speedway, beating the oval specialists on an oval!
This year there are no date clashes this year between Formula 1 and the Crown Royal International Race of Champions series but that does not mean that there is much international interest in the grandly-named US series designed to discover which driver from a selection of different categories is the best. This year IROC will include a road course for the first time in 14 years but we have heard of no attempt to allow non-American champions to take part.
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