Motorsports Weekend Guide: April 11 to April 13


Last weekend saw the best Formula One battle in a long time between teammates under the lights in Bahrain. Long Beach turned its streets into drift paradise while NASCAR had to wait an extra day to find a winner in Texas. Across the pond, last year’s WRC champion stretched his 2014 championship lead. Further abroad, Japanese Super GT kicked off its season while V8 Supercars saw its fourth marquee scoring a win this season and got a bonus tirade from a veteran racer.

This week, the action stays in Long Beach for the annual big-time event and the country hosts big-time two-wheel racing. A handful of series start their long 2014 campaigns while wings reign over the Adriatic Coast. Follow the jump to see what the heck I’m talking about.



IndyCar/TUDOR United Sportscar Championship: Long Beach Grand Prix

Long Beach will host its 40th Grand Prix this weekend and, as always, the paddock will be packed with vehicles of all types. IndyCar will headline with the prime Sunday afternoon spot, but the supporting races hold tremendous appeal for the whole weekend. The Tudor sportscar series will only run two classes—the top Prototype and the GT-Le Mans cars—but both should provide good duels Saturday afternoon. Capping off both Saturday and Sunday is Round 2 of the Pirelli World Challenge.

On top of all that, Robby Gordon’s Stadium Super Trucks and the popular annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race will run on the streets of Long Beach with Top Gear America host Rutledge Wood hoping to defend his win from last year. Hooniverse’s own Jeff Glucker will patrol the grounds after scoring some great content last weekend from the Formula Drift weekend so keep an eye on both he and Hooniverse via Social Media.

Website: IndyCar site. TUSC site. LBGP site. Weekend schedule. Fan guide (PDF).
Supporting series: Pirelli World Challenge. Indy Lights. Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race. Stadium Super Trucks. Motegi Super Drift.
Live coverage:
IndyCar – NBC Sports Network @ 4:40 p.m. EST on Sunday (TV); Sirius XM Channel 209 (Radio); Live timing here (with streaming audio). TUSC – Fox Sports 1 @ 6:00 p.m. EST on Saturday (TV); Live timing hereWorld ChallengeLive streaming here @ 8:15 p.m. EST on Saturday & @ 7:30 p.m. EST on Sunday.


MotoGP: Red Grand Prix of the Americas (Circuit of the Americas)

Meanwhile in Texas, MotoGP follows up its cracking opening round with its first visit to the U.S. The young defending champion Marc Marquez won at Bahrain and will hope that’s the first step toward back-to-back world championships.

Website: MotoGP site. COTA site. Weekend schedule.
Supporting series: Moto2 & Moto3.
Live coverage: Fox Sports 1 @ 2:00 p.m. EST on Sunday (TV)


FIA World Touring Car Championship: Morocco

The WTCC is a true world championship, hosting races on five continents this year (only Australia gets left out). The top touring car series opens in Morocco and 2014 may be the WTCC’s biggest season. Why? Because French rally superstar Sebastien Loeb will debut in touring cars this season with, of course, the Citroen’s backing. He’s proven fast in everything from a hillclimb monster to an LMP car, so expect him to start the season already up to the same speed as his teammate, defending champion and countryman Yvan Muller. The pair have an impressive 13 world championships between them and will be the pairing to watch, but there are enough top-notch touring car drivers like Gabriele Tarquini and Tom Chilton to make it tough on the French duo.

Website: WTCC site. Morocco GP site
Supporting series: AutoGP. Renault Clio RS Cup. 
Live coverage: None stateside but live timing should be here, I think.


NASCAR: Darlington Raceway (Darlington, SC)

Darlington is one of the classics for NASCAR, having held events since 1950 on its 1-1/4 mile egg-shaped oval. Seven races into the season, Sprint Cup has seen seven different winners and just to keep things interesting, the top two in the points standings, Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth, are not among those with a win. With only 16 spots in the season-ending Chase and 26 races to qualify, it’s starting to look like drivers will need multiple wins to be assured one of the final 16 spots. Both Sprint Cup and the supporting Nationwide race will take place under the lights with prime evening slots.

Website: NASCAR site. Darlington site. Weekend Schedule
Supporting series: Nationwide
Live coverage:
Sprint Cup — Fox @ 6:30 p.m. EST on Saturday (TV) and Motor Racing Network (radio). Nationwide — ESPN2 @ 8:00 p.m. EST on Friday (TV) and MRN (radio). Live timing here.



Blancpain Endurance Series: Monza 3 Hours

Blancpain will produce two terrific FIA GT3-based series with races all over Europe. The former FIA GT3 Championship, now called the Blancpain Sprint Series, opens next week at Nogaro, but the Blancpain Endurance Series holds the first of its five rounds at the famed Monza Autodrome. All races are three hours long, allowing a driver change and probably a second fuel stop in most circumstances. For Americans, this is a great way to discover Europe’s deep talent pool in GT racing, but it’s also a showcase of the continent’s diverse GT3 manufacturers with the top class seeing Audi R8s, Mercedes SLSs, McLaren MP4s, and even a GT3-spec Chevy Camaro. Keep your eyes peeled for the two-car, factory-backed Bentley Continental GT3 effort with deep driver lineups.

Websites: Blancpain site. Monza site. Weekend schedule. Entry list.
Supporting series: Lamborghini Super Trofeo. Formula Renault 3.5 and Formula Renault 2.0
Live coverage: Watch it streaming here


Red Bull Air Race: Rovinj, Croatia

It may not be racing, but Red Bull’s Air Races are certainly motorsport. The Formula One machines of the sky head to Rovinj, a small city on the Adriatic Sea, where the aerobatic planes will maneuver through gates at high G loads. It’s spectacular in a way that cars stuck to the ground simply can’t be. Naturally, because it’s awesome, we can’t livestream it in the United States.

Website: Red Bull Air Races site. Event page.
Live coverage: Live streaming here…unless you live in the U.S., where it’s geo-blocked.


Britcar: Silverstone

It’s perhaps a bit strange to be posting about Britcar on an American site since it’s something of a small-potatoes series in the grand scheme of racing (like a NASA Pro Racing weekend), but the sheer variety of machinery in these races is notable. Britcar is apparently working on adding a 24-hour race at Silverstone later in the season, but look for this weekend’s race to contain a mix of sprints and 90-minute endurance races. 

Website: Britcar site. Silverstone site. Weekend schedule. Entry list.
Live coverage:


Japanese Super Formula: Suzuka Circuit

Super Formula is Japan’s top-tier open-wheel racing and it’s quietly a very challenging series. Like Super GT, several top European sportscar drivers keep in practice by dueling with the substantial local talent. Audi factory drivers Loic Duval and Andre Lotterer both still run Super Formula and are past champions, as was fellow Audi driver Benoit Treluyer (who no longer races Super Formula). The cars themselves are all new Dallara chassis this season with Bridgestone tires and power comes from either a Honda or Toyota turbocharged 2.0-liter engine similar to those employed in the shared specs for German DTM and Super GT. 

Website: Super Formula site. Entry list.
Supporting series: MFJ Superbike.
Live coverage: Unfortunately, there is no live TV coverage outside of Japan.



NHRA: zMAX Dragway at Charlotte Motor Speedway (Concord, NC)

I suppose one might call drag racing the exact opposite of air races; there’s little room for finesse when you a few tens of thousands of horsepower to propel you beyond the BAC Concorde’s Vr speed in a couple of seconds. The Stooges-caliber Raw Power show heads to Charlotte this weekend, the only four-wide dragstrip on the NHRA calendar.

Website: NHRA site. zMAX Dragway site. Weekend schedule. Entry lists.
Live coverage: ESPN2 @ 9 p.m. EST on Saturday and at 8 p.m. EST on Sunday (TV). 


FIM Superbike World Championship: Aragon

It’s not MotoGP, but the international Superbike racing lacks little for excitement.  With bikes in five different classes, the Superbike ladder system has a deep pool of young talent. Unfortunately, it carries a little less weight than MotoGP and is harder to follow with no real TV broadcast in the U.S. 

Website: World Superbikes site. Aragon site. Weekend schedule.
Supporting series: Supersport. Superstock 1000. Superstock 600. European Junior Cup.
Live coverage: None stateside that I can find.


SCCA Majors Tour: West Region, Thunderhill Raceway

The SCCA Majors rolls on just as NASCAR does, only the Majors sees different entrants at each stop. This weekend’s races at Thunderhill also mark a stop on the BF Goodrich Super Tour. With qualifying for the runoffs at not-so-distant Laguna Seca at stake, expect stiff competition and hard racing on this leg.

Website: SCCA Majors site. Thunderhill site. Weekend schedule. Entry list.
Live coverage: Live timing here or via Race Monitor app for smartphones.


[Lead Photo copyright Hooniverse 2014/Eric Rood. Other photos: Wikimedia;

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