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November 27, 2018

By: Jonathan

CARS

Fernando Alonso Races Final F1 Race, Pursuit Of Triple Crown Continues

Never a diehard Formula One fan, and still prefer NASCAR over it, my first exposure to the world’s most popular racing series came back in 2004 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

That year I was there as a guest of Vodafone which meant most my time was spent in the Ferrari paddock and hospitality suite decked in more red than I’ve ever worn in my life watching Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello do work. And work Schumacher did that season winning his fourth championship in as many years and 13 of 18 events. However, for me it was a night leading up to the race that really stood out when a colleague of my father pointed out a young man sitting alone in the hotel lobby, it was Fernando Alonso.

In just his third full Formula One season he wasn’t the superstar he is today, but certainly at the time would have warranted way more attention in other markets. That moment made me a fan. To this day I’m not sure if it was that he seemed so down to Earth amongst the circus F1 puts on week after week around the world or that he was just sitting alone, something I can very much relate to. All I do know is I left that weekend a fan and with a photo of my face photoshopped onto his hero card from some vendor.

The following year he insured he would no longer be sitting alone for the rest of his life winning the first of his back to back championships in 2005 and 2006. I would continue to follow his career from afar as F1 would take a break from racing in the U.S. and as I said, never a die hard fan of that series. However, as his F1 career was coming to an end I was able to see him race in the 101st Indianapolis 500 a couple years back, even meeting him at the Andretti Motorsports night before party, and seeing him compete again the following year in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

It’s a sad day when anyone you admire retires, but I think more so in racing, where despite a team supporting the driver, it isn’t viewed as a team sport. You put all your emotion into that driver’s seat with him. Though this is the end of an era in Formula One for Alonso, I’m excited for his future, race fans, and myself as he goes for racing’s Triple Crown again next year in the Indy 500…And whatever else his future may hold.

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