Car Culture & Entertainment / Motorsports

The Best Day in Motorsports?: The Case for Watching 15 Consecutive Hours of Racing

couple watching sports on TV

It’s just going to be a bunch of this. For 15 straight hours. (Image/Nielsen Local)

Nielsen says only two percent of U.S. viewers will watch all three races.

Which, one might argue, means 98 percent of us are doing it wrong.

The Sunday of every Memorial Day weekend is considered by many to be the best day of the year for motorsports, due to the back-to-back-to-back nature of three iconic and historically significant races: The F1 Monaco Grand Prix, the Indianapolis 500, and the Coca-Cola 600.

If you start watching the Grand Prix in the morning (a reasonable 7:30 am ET, but brutal 4:30 am on the West Coast) and stay tuned all day through the 101st Indy 500, and then the Coca-Cola 600 (which typically runs a bit over four hours), you’ll spend about 15 straight hours watching racing on TV.

Which will either prove you to be a total genius, or a complete idiot, depending on a variety of factors, including how much your spouse or family members love you.

We won’t judge either way.

But if you want some reasons for tuning into all of the racing action this weekend, here’s everything you need to know heading in.

F1 Monaco Grand Prix

Location: Monte Carlo, Monaco

Racing Series: Formula 1

2016 Winner: Lewis Hamilton

TV: 7:30 am ET on NBC

Monaco Grand Prix grandstand and harbor

In ways much different than the oval speedways in Indianapolis and Charlotte, there’s much more for the eyes to take in along Monte Carlo’s coast than just racing. (Image/Blue Chip Hospitality)

What to Watch For:

The renewed rivalry between Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. Combined, the two drivers have won seven F1 World Championships, and the two sit atop the F1 point standings with Vettel (104 points) holding a slight lead over Hamilton (98 points). Hamilton won the most recent F1 race on May 14 in Spain. He has won the Monaco Grand Prix twice, including last year. Vettel won Monaco in 2011. Also, if you’ve never noticed how incredibly beautiful the Monaco coast truly is, you owe it to yourself to soak that in. That the Monaco course has the hairiest turn of any F1 race, but the cars are still hitting 180+ miles-per-hour on the fastest straightaways, makes this event quite the spectacle.

Indianapolis 500

Location: Indianapolis, IN

Racing Series: INDYCAR

2016 Winner: Alexander Rossi

TV: 12 pm noon ET on ABC

Indy 500 bricks


What to Watch For:

Scott Dixon earned the pole position with the fastest four-lap qualifying average in 21 years at the hallowed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Dixon’s four-lap average was 232.164 mph, which is the fastest qualifying speed at the Brickyard since Arie Luyendyk’s track-record 236.986 mph in 1996. This is the 101st running of the Indy 500. There is a lot of uncertainty around who should be considered the favorite for Sunday’s race because the first rows include three Indy 500 winners, three runners-up, and a two-time Formula 1 champ. Whether you’re hitting graduation parties, spending the day at home, or doing something else entirely, you’ll want to stay tuned to the first race of the Indy 500’s second century.

Coca-Cola 600

Location: Charlotte, NC

Racing Series: NASCAR

2016 Winner: Martin Truex Jr.

TV: 6 pm ET on FOX

charlotte motor speedway coca-cola 600


What to Watch For:

Joey Logano has the best average finish (11.2) at Charlotte Motor Speedway, despite crashing out of last October’s Bank of America 500 race. In 16 starts in Charlotte, Logano has one win, five top-fives, and nine top-10 finishes. Jimmie Johnson’s Charlotte resume is unmatched, coming off a win last October and a third-place finish in last year’s Coca-Cola 600. Johnson has eight career wins at Charlotte, include four 600 victories. Kasey Kahne has been money in Charlotte, as well. He has four wins there, including three 600 titles between 2006-2012. But don’t sleep on Kevin Harvick either. He’s notched three Charlotte wins, including two 600 crowns, and he’s on a bit of a tear right now, leading at least 10 laps in each of the past five races, with four top-five finishes in those events.

Burning Questions:

  1. Do you think Memorial Day Weekend Sunday is the best race day of the year?
  2. Which of these races is your favorite?
  3. Will you watch at least some of all three races?
  4. Is spending 15 straight hours watching racing on TV the best, or worst, idea ever?
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  1. Zeppo Jaworski says:

    A great day for any true gearhead.

  2. 1. Yes, of course! Don´t Have other similar day on the year.
    2. My Favorite Race is Indy 500. I have a drem one day I see this legendary race near to the tower of laps and position, and possibly I can touch the Brickyard.
    3. Probably all three! My family knows, and the Budweiser and Coca-cola are already in the refrigerator!
    4.No, because its once a year, and has interval/time between the races.

    But I confess I did it only twice!

    Hugs to you!

  3. AnalogDan Wilson says:

    The subject matter of Matt Griswold’s article is an excellent choice because the three different types of racing are as diverse as the fans that follow them. I find something interesting in all forms of four wheeled Motorsports competition but out of the three big Memorial Day weekend races run on Sunday, the Formula 1 event is my least favorite. The cars are kinda hard to relate to along with the European venues and the wine and cheese social order of fans just aren’t my cup of tea ☕️.

    The Formula 1 competition gets pretty intense at times and helps fill the void on TV when Stock Cars or Drag Racing isn’t on. And speaking of Drag Racing, it’s my favorite but unfortunately it isn’t part of the televised 15 hour racing marathon on Sunday. The Indy 500 really is the Great American Race because it’s a driver and machine at full throttle while teetering on the sharp edge of traction and disaster at all times. As I write this a Japanese driver just won today’s Indy 500 in a Honda powered vehicle. Is America great or what ?

    The NASCAR race is definitely the best way to finish up a day of racing. Just be sure to have plenty of your favorite beverage on hand. There’s nothing quite as tragic as when a good ole boy runs dry before the generic racers finish going in circles.

    Maybe there’s a good Drag Race on ESPN.

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