Winter is here, at least for those of us in the Northern hemisphere, which means most auto racing series have ended for the season. However, there is still one event that's worth catching – the annual Race of Champions, which pits some of the world's greatest drivers from all motor sport disciplines – including Formula 1, world rally, touring cars, Le Mans and the X-Games – and sets them free to battle head-to-head in identical machinery on a specially constructed parallel track.
Four days ago Dusseldorf's football (soccer) team won a key game in Germany's football league. Now the field in the Esprit stadium has been paved, ready for two days of action. I arrived here today and am looking forward to seeing these drivers compete head-to-head in an enclosed stadium. The noise and atmosphere is supposed to be tremendous.
Drivers confirmed for the 2011 Race Of Champions include:
- Sebastian Vettel, 2010 and 2011 Formula 1 World Champion
- Michael Schumacher, seven-time Formula 1 World Champion
- Jenson Button, 2009 Formula 1 World Champion
- Andy Priaulx, three-time World Touring Car Champion
- Tom Kristensen, eight-time Le Mans 24-Hour race winner
- Mattias Ekstrom, DTM star and triple ROC Champion of Champions
- Sébastien Ogier, winner of five WRC rallies in 2011
- Romain Grosjean, 2011 GP2 Series Champion
- Vitaly Petrov, Formula 1 driver for Lotus Renault GP
- Timo Glock, Formula 1 driver for Marussia Virgin Racing
- Timo Scheider, 2008 and 2009 DTM Champion
- Martin Tomczyk, 2011 DTM Champion
- Juho Hänninen, 2011 S-WRC champion and 2010 IRC champion
- Jan Kopecký, three-time Intercontinental Rally Challenge runner-up
- David Coulthard, winner of 13 Formula 1 grands prix
- Filipe Albuquerque, DTM star and reigning ROC Champion of Champions
- Brian Deegan, 13 X-Games medals including Rally Cross gold in 2011
- Travis Pastrana, four-time Rally America winner and X-Games legend
This year the drivers will compete in an Audi R8 LMS, VW Scirocco and Skoda Fabia Super 2000 rally car as well as the ROC car, KTM X- Bow, World Touring Racecar and the RX150 buggy.
Although the races will not be shown on TV in the US, the action will be streamed live on and . You can watch on Saturday (Dec 3) when the ROC Nations Cup will be shown from 1900-2200 CET (1-4pm EST, 10am-1pm PST) while on Sunday (Dec 4) the individual Race Of Champions itself will run from 1400-1700 CET (8-11am EST, 5-8am PST).
Travis Pastrana has done well in the Race of Champions in previous years. Here's hoping he and Brian Deegan, who won the Rallycross Gold at the X-Games against some tough European competitors, can wave the Stars and Stripes on the podium.