Brazilian Formula 1 racer Felipe Massa has joined the stunning field of driving stars who will compete at the first Race Of Champions on American soil – inside Miami’s Marlins Park on January 21-22, 2017.
Massa came closer to being crowned F1 world champion than anyone when he lost to Lewis Hamilton at the very last corner of his home grand prix at Interlagos in 2008. The Brazilian’s dignity in defeat won many admirers, as did his determined recovery from a head injury sustained during the Hungarian Grand Prix the following year.
Since his return to the cockpit Massa has continued to rack up strong performances, most recently with Williams Martini Racing. In a career spanning 14 seasons he has collected 11 grand prix wins and over 40 podiums. He has announced his intention to retire at the end of this season after he competes in his 250th and final grand prix in Abu Dhabi. That will not be his final competitive appearance, however – and race fans from all over the world now have a chance to see him in action at ROC Miami.
In January Massa has the chance to take on many of the world’s greatest drivers in equal machinery at his fourth visit to the Race Of Champions. On his 2004 debut at the Stade de France in Paris he partnered Tony Kanaan to the ROC Nations Cup semi-finals for Team Brazil. Massa returned to Paris the following year and also raced last November in London’s Olympic Stadium (pictured below).
Massa said: “It’s a fantastic pleasure for me to participate in the Race Of Champions for another year. The event is a big challenge and it’s a great idea to have a race with the best drivers from all the different motor sport categories. I look forward to meeting up with my old friend and fellow countryman Tony Kanaan. In 2004 in Paris we made up a very good combination: he beat Sébastien Loeb and I beat Michael Schumacher until we were both given penalties for touching the guard rails too much…
“The atmosphere is special at the Race Of Champions too: you’re in the middle of the grandstands so you can hear all the fans and they can see all the corners. It’s a great feeling and great enjoyment for everyone. Even better it’s in Miami, which is one of my favourite places and somewhere I’ve always enjoyed going for holidays. So it’s a perfect combination and I’m really looking forward to it, especially to starting my new life after retirement!”
Massa and Kanaan join a star-studded ROC Miami field that features many of the biggest names in world motor sport. Confirmed racers include four-time Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel, ‘Mr Le Mans’ Tom Kristensen, Indianapolis 500 winners Juan Pablo Montoya and Ryan Hunter-Reay, action sports legend Travis Pastrana, NASCAR champion Kurt Busch and reigning World Rallycross Champion Petter Solberg. More big names will be announced in the run-up to January’s event.
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 1, NASCAR, IndyCar, Le Mans, MotoGP, World Rally and action sports – and sets them free to battle head-to-head in identical machinery. All the racing takes place in a stunning range of superfast cars.
The ROC event is run over two days: first comes the Race Of Champions itself (on Saturday, January 21) featuring a flat-out battle for individual glory. Then on Sunday, January 22 comes the ROC Nations Cup when drivers pair up in teams based on nationality to bid for the title of ‘World’s Fastest Nation’. In 2017, this will see America take on the rest of the world in a special contest in celebration of the host venue.
In recent years, ROC 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).
Now the event is heading to the United States for the first time to soak up the heat of Miami. Florida’s sports fans will have a chance to watch the speediest action Marlins Park has ever seen as many of the world’s greatest drivers push to the absolute limit on a specially-designed racing track winding its way around the infield and outfield.
But that’s not all. The Race Of Champions has non-stop action from start to finish – featuring stunt shows on four wheels and two wheels plus DJs, cheerleaders and plenty of other entertainment to keep race fans on the edge of their seats.
ROC president Fredrik Johnsson said: “We are thrilled that Felipe will be joining us at the Race Of Champions in Miami. He has raced at the highest level for over 15 years and he deserves to revel in his last few grands prix ahead of his Formula 1 retirement later this year. During his time in F1 he has built up a fan base all over the world and now we hope to see many of his fans at Marlins Park in January to give him a worthy send-off. He will doubtless be keen to show he still has the pace to take on the best.”