MIAMI – The Race Of Champions is heading to the United States of America for the first time in its history after Miami’s Marlins Park baseball stadium won the rights to host the next Race of Champions event on Jan. 21-22, 2017.
Built in 2012, Marlins Park is the home of the Miami Marlins, the city’s Major League Baseball franchise. The stadium features a retractable roof and can seat more than 37,000 fans, who are more used to watching fastballs than fast cars. It is set to host the 2017 Major League Baseball All-Star Game next July. Now it will host contenders from all over the world during the prestigious Race Of Champions, which will take place within the confines of the stadium itself.
In recent years Race of Champions has visited the Stade de France in Paris (2004-2006), London’s Wembley Stadium (2007-2008), the ‘Bird’s Nest’ Olympic Stadium in Beijing (2009), Düsseldorf’s Esprit Arena (2010-2011), the Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok (2012), Bushy Park Barbados (2014) and London’s former Olympic Stadium (2015).
The Race Of Champions is an annual contest which has been held for over 25 years. It brings together some of the world’s greatest drivers from motor sport’s major disciplines – including Formula One, NASCAR, IndyCar, Le Mans, MotoGP, World Rally and the X Games – and sets them free to battle head-to-head in identical machinery.
Germany’s four-time Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel took his first Race of Champions Champion of Champions title in London last year after many years of trying. Now he will return to defend his crown in Miami – but first he will have to see off motor sport’s finest competitors from all over the world.
“I’m very happy to have finally won the individual Race Of Champions title last year in London’s Olympic Stadium and I look forward to defending my title at ROC in Miami,” said Vettel. “All the drivers are strong, and the top U.S. drivers from NASCAR and IndyCar will certainly be extra motivated to win in front of their home fans now that the event is being held in their country for the first time.
“This will also be the first time ROC has been held in a baseball stadium so I’m curious to discover the new track layout. But as always it’s the same track and identical cars for everyone so only driver skill makes the difference. The racing at ROC is always very intense and the head-to-head duels often decided by fractions of a second, so it’s just one strategy; flat out from start to finish.”
The first American drivers to sign up for Race of Champions Miami are former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kurt Busch and 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner and 2012 IndyCar champion Ryan Hunter-Reay.
They both have fine pedigrees of their own at the Race Of Champions. At Barbados in 2014 both Busch and Hunter-Reay topped their groups in style with three wins out of three en route to the quarter-finals. Now both drivers can look forward to soaking up the adulation of their home fans as they slug it out to take Vettel’s crown in Miami.
“I’m honored to once again be invited to the Race Of Champions,” said Busch. “I had a great time last time out in Barbados and given that this year’s event will be in the US, it will make it that much more exciting. In addition, representing the U.S. in my country will be special.”
“I’m delighted to be making my fourth straight appearance at the Race of Champions – and especially this time with the event taking place on American soil, better yet my own backyard,” said Hunter-Reay. “It is a spectacular event and a unique challenge to jump in and out of all the different cars as you go head-to-head with some of the best drivers in the world, it is a tremendous honor to be selected as a competitor for ROC. I’m proud to represent America, IndyCar and the Indy 500 and I look forward to hearing the noise of the crowds in Miami and feeling that hometown support.”
The Race of Champions is run over two days: first comes the Race of Champions itself on Jan. 21 with a flat-out battle for individual glory. Then on Jan. 22 it’s the ROC Nations Cup, when drivers pair up in teams based on nationality to bid for the title of ‘World’s Fastest Nation,’ All the racing takes place in a range of super fast cars.
CREDIT: Race of Champions