• Oct 12, 2009
Up until a few years ago, seeing a driver switch from one motorsport discipline to another was practically unheard of. A Formula One driver might compete at Le Mans, sure, but with few exceptions, that was about the extent of it. Now we've got drivers interested in switching between F1, rallying and even motorbikes in a big game of musical chairs. Once unfathomable, however, the biggest trend is a growing cadre of F1 drivers migrating to NASCAR.

Following similar moves by Juan Pablo Montoya, Jacques Villeneuve and Scott Speed, to name just a few, and rumors of Nelsinho Piquet's intended move, comes news that Toyota's Jarno Trulli (pictured above) is scheduled to test drive a stock car next month at USA International Speedway in Lakeland, Florida. After attending a Sprint Cup race last year in Michigan, and reportedly several more to observe Montoya's progress, Trulli asked his employers at Toyota to arrange a test session for him, so they set him up with the Michael Waltrip Racing team – which races under the Toyota banner – for a two-day test in November.

Joining Trulli at the test session will reportedly be one Mika Salo, the Finnish driver who competed in F1 from 1994 to 2002. Over his career, Salo raced for Lotus, Tyrrell, Arrows, BAR, Sauber and Toyota, but his best results were a pair of podiums scored when filling in for an injured Michael Schumacher at Ferrari in 1999. Recently, he's been racing for Risi Competizione in the Le Mans Series, and took the GT2 class win at Le Mans last year, but now he's looking to switch to oval tracks.

For his part, Trulli insists the session is just for fun. But Toyota is not expected to renew his contract for next season, and he'll will be looking for another ride in F1. If he doesn't find it, he may find NASCAR a compelling option.

[Source: Autosport | Image: Kiyoshi Ota/Getty]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 13 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago

      Up until a few years ago, seeing a driver switch from one motorsport discipline to another was practically unheard of. A Formula One driver might compete at Le Mans, sure, but with few exceptions, that was about the extent of it.

      Noah, you must not have been around in the 1960s and 70s. Drivers would race in all sorts of different cars. Hell, Mario Andretti raced and won in just about every major series at one time or another (which is why he's probably the greatest racer ever). Parnelli Jones, Phil Hill, Dan Gurney, A.J. Foyt, and other American racers raced in a bunch of different kinds of cars and Jim Clark famously came over the pond to race at Indianapolis. Even more recently Nigel Mansell raced and won in CART after he retired from Formula One.

      Richard Petty even left NASCAR and drag raced in 1965 when Chrysler pulled out of NASCAR in protest of the banning the 426 HEMI race engine.
      http://www.draglist.com/photoimages/Photos-RayRay/Full%20Size/pettymori.jpg
      • 5 Years Ago
      All you have to do is listen to Montoya; he's having a lot more fun racing NASCAR. He enjoys the relationships he has with other competitors. He has said that in his open wheel career, he very rarely sent time with the members of his crew, let alone other competitors. Take a look at opening ceremonies at NASCAR, half the drivers are standing there with there wife and kids, it's just a more enjoyable environment.
        David Ederer
        • 5 Years Ago
        Exactly Paul, I used to watch F1, but NASCAR is everything you say it is. The before the last race they interviewed one of the drivers when he was holding his daughter! The current F1 headline is talking about some driver that was instructed to crash his car. I'll stick to nascar.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The move from F1 to NASCAR, is it because they are getting paid more to go to NASCAR?

      Or is this attrubuted to the political B.S. in F1!?! (I am sure that the politcal B.S. is also present in NASCAR.)

      • 5 Years Ago
      Here's an interesting thought:

      U.S.-born drivers haven't been able to make a dent in F1 for decades. How d'y'all think these Euro-boys'll do if they cross the pond?
      Welcome Ricky
      • 5 Years Ago
      Waltrip Toyota NASCAR? C'mon Autoblog... It is called a NASCAR RACE CAR.
      David Ederer
      • 5 Years Ago
      They're just looking for another paycheck. NASCAR is very nationalistic and very exciting. F1 is boring and a washed up arrogant european driver, looking to make "easy money" won't be excepted.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @David Ederer
        "...washed up, arrogant..." and Jarno Trulli? You clearly know not of what you speak. Lazy.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @David Ederer
        "F1 is boring and a washed up arrogant european driver, looking to make "easy money" won't be excepted."

        Making a few left turns on an oval is not what I would call "exciting", either. "Easy money"? These guys need to bring in sponsors AND real driving skills, and the only arrogant ass I've seen in F1 have been only a few (JPM among them). If this does happen hopefully these "foreign" drivers would bring some much needed class to NASTYCAR.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I don't understand why it's "unfathomable" that open-wheel drivers make the jump to NASCAR. As far as money goes, it's the biggest game in town, and drivers who are successful there can have long careers (just look at Mark Martin, 50 years old and in the thick of the Chase).

      Who cares if it doesn't carry the prestige of F1, or if open-wheel fanboys find it boring. I welcome seeing drivers from other disciplines take a crack at the stock-car circuit. And notice that with a few exceptions like Tony Stewart or JP Montoya, not many open-wheel drivers find success in NASCAR. I think it shows that NASCAR is just as challenging as F1 or IndyCar, but in different ways.
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