Sunday, May 25, 2008


Memorial day weekend is a time when we remember all who have sacrificed their lives defending our country. This year more of us will stay home with the high price of gas, park ourselves in front of the television and watch men and woman race around ovals to capture the checkered flag. It is a time for us to celebrate the wonderful sport of auto racing!

Memorial Day weekend is when the world's most famous race, the Indianapolis 500, is run. It has been a calendar fixture for nearly a century. No other race in the world has the tradition, and is more well known. It is not the only show in town. Over the last decade, NASCAR's 600 mile race at Charlotte has drawn more TV viewers, and has become a regular Memorial Weekend Sunday event. The Coca-Cola 600 is a cap to a Sunday triple header of headline races, starting with the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix.

This year's Indianapolis 500 arrives with much anticipation. With the growth in popularity of NASCAR and the Indy/Cart split of 1996, the race has lost its luster over the past decade. Thankfully, the division between CART and the Indy Racing league has been reconciled, and this years race figures to be competitive. Dan Wheldon starts on the pole, and this is the deepest field in over ten years. Danica Patrick will be one of three women starting today. She IRL's most popular driver. With her first win under her belt, she is a legitimate threat to win today. Dancing With the Stars winner Helio Castroneves is looking for his third trophy at Indy. The Indianapolis 500 is primed to reclaim the Memorial Day Weekend dominance it had enjoyed for years.

The Coca-Cola 600 has no shortage of interest and intrigue. A new rivalry has begun this year. With three victories, Kyle Busch has torn up the ovals and is leading the point standings. One of those victories were the result of Busch sending NASCAR's most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., into the wall in the final laps. Adding to the drama is the fact that Busch was bounced from the Hendrick team to make room for Dale Junior. The fans call this a feud, and it is much more intense with them than the drivers. Kyle Busch has the pole for the Coca-Cola 600.

Die hard fans may get up early and watch Formula One's Grand Prix from Monaco on Sunday. The average American race fan may be surprised to discover that "The Jewel of the Formula One" is one of the most prestigious races in the world. It is considered one of three races of the triple crown of racing, along with the Indy 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Most Americans do not take well to this form of racing. One of the reasons is that there are no current divers competing in this series from the United States.

As New Years Day has college football and Thanksgiving Day has pro football, Memorial Weekend Sunday has always had auto racing. It is an American tradition. I will be watching, as millions of others will.

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