The Support Races at the 2022 United States Grand Prix Are Worth Watching
Everyone is here for the main show: Formula 1. But there is a thriving paddock of support racers with old GT3 endurance cars, Le Mans Prototypes, and vintage F1 cars waiting to be seen.
Formula 1 is an honest-to-god spectacle of motorsport. I’ve been around all kinds of racing and haven’t seen anything like this. Still, even at my first F1 event, I had to walk around and drink in the sights and sounds in between sessions. My favorite discovery was the support paddock located at turn 13.
Of course, the headliner is F1, and watching those cars for the first time is completely mind-bending. There is so much body language and emotion that doesn’t come through the TV screen. All of the tiniest tense movements, the aggression of a proper hot lap, and the sound of the modern F1 machines is addicting. There are also subtleties between the sounds of the four engines. The Mercedes engine is louder, rougher, more chainsaw-like. The Renault is quiet but quite ragged. The Ferrari is somewhere between the Mercedes and Renault with a slightly higher register. Honda’s engine is the most unique sounding, with a low and smooth tonal character.
But all of those little nuances don’t truly compete with the historic race cars that made the journey to Circuit of the Americas. Supporting the main event is a small paddock with some dedicated racers campaigning a mixture of 1970s F1 cars, Le Mans prototypes, and former GT3 endurance cars. They raced the vintage F1 cars before F1 Practice 3 and it was special to watch. Most of the field was powered by the classic Cosworth DFV V8 which was one of the most popular engines ever in F1.
The sound they make is iconic and they define a generation of F1 much like the V10 engines did for the ‘90s and early ‘00s. Watching them race was special, along with a mock endurance race with the GT3 cars and prototypes in a mixed field, and Mario Andretti driving a modern V8 F1 car around the track.
Everyone is here for F1. But don’t forget about the other cool race cars too. More race cars are always better.
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