The overseas motor racing season got underway last weekend at the 24 Hours of Daytona.
The big boys came out to play last weekend for one of the biggest endurance races of the year. In fact, the 24 Hours of Daytona is one third of the triple crown of endurance racing along with the Le Mans 24 Hour and the 12 Hours of Sebring.
The good news is that Kiwi Scott Dixon, along with Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook, won his third title (GTLM class) having previously done the deed in 2006 (outright) and 2015 (outright). Dixon has recently started competing at the Le Mans event and has set pole at Sebring, so he might be able to join the likes of A J Foyt, Jacky Ickx and Timo Bernhard (Le Mans winner alongside Kiwis Earl Bamber and Brendon Hartley) as endurance triple crown winners.
Moving on to single seaters, their triple crown is a whole new kettle of fish. To claim that title you'd have to win the Indianapolis 500, Le Mans 24 Hour and the Monaco Grand Prix (although that's now been changed to an F1 championship).
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
Only one man has done it so far and that's the incomparable Graham Hill. He kicked that feat off by claiming the Indianapolis 500 in 1966, Le Mans in 1972 and a whole heap of Monaco titles — 1963, 1964, 1965, 1968 and 1969. Hill also just happened to pick up Formula 1 world championships in 1962 and 1968.
Any chance of anyone else doing the triple these days? Not likely. Not only is it just too hard with so many talented drivers, the number of race categories has exploded and there will always be a calendar clash. An example was Fernando Alonso last year having to skip an F1 race to qualify for the Indy 500.
Alonso is probably the only guy left who could possible manage a triple crown as he's already won an F1 world championship and showed great speed at Indy before his Honda engine let go. He could still do it in a few years' time and then it would be on to Le Mans. At 36 he's got plenty of time to get around to racing and winning at Le Mans.
Other than the Spaniard, I can't see anyone with either the broad talent, or the desire to take on such a task. Can you image Lewis Hamilton, or someone like him, first of all being given the time off to have a punt in some other sort of race car, and second, I doubt he'd want to do it. Might infringe on his red carpet time.
Back in the day the race cars were pretty much all the same. Four wheels, an engine, a bit of suspension, a seat, a steering wheel and sort of brakes. Now, you have to have a degree in electrical engineering just to work out which button to push on the steering rectangle.
Today's race cars are too specialized and far too different across the categories. Sure, there would be the odd driver who'd stick their hand up to have a go, but teams, manufacturers, sponsors etc, would be too big of a road block.
To get the day's top sports stories in your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here