(GQ magazine) There are no rules in race-car driving explicitly stating that Americans must have names like Mario Andretti, or that Formula One cars (the fastest, most sophisticated non-moon-mission machines on earth) must be made by guys called Ferrari, or that drivers must look quite so sleek as Lewis Hamilton—but isn’t it warming when clichés bear out?
F1 series champion at 23, serial dater of pop princesses and beauty queens, and collector of a paycheck that leaves Jeter’s in the rearview, Hamilton, now 27, is the readily conceived picture of an international sporting icon. Even as younger drivers (namely Germany’s relentless Sebastian Vettel) have roadblocked his once certain-seeming dominance, the Brit is still the racer most likely to facilitate an American embrace when F1 attempts to (hopefully, finally) burrow into the U.S. Beginning next fall in Austin and adding a second stop in 2013 just across the Hudson from Manhattan, F1 is aiming for a double shot of Grand Prix spectacle for the decade to come. But the concern lingers: What has to happen for American fans to, as Hamilton puts it, “catch the bug”?
“It’s really a matter of getting the car in front of people,” he says. “Once you hear it and see it, feel the noise—then maybe they’ll turn out for a race.” And while it’s kind of funny to imagine Monaco-style vanity-glam in a place like Texas, F1 does seem to offer the politically blue sports fan an alternative to NASCAR’s aggressively red racing. “I don’t quite know how F1 will play in Oklahoma and places like that, but every time I’m in California, I swear more people recognize me—genuine fans,” Hamilton says. “I love it in the States. The roads are big, the food is big. If it was possible to be in L.A. and still live my racing life, I would move now.” Speaking of which: Hollywood’s not a bad place from which to start reaching that new American audience. “Sylvester Stallone did a racing movie, didn’t he? Not one of his best,” Hamilton says, laughing. “I’d love to hear any ideas.” Screenwriters: Green light, go. Photos: Hamilton illuminate in GQ magazine photoshoot
Source: GQ magazine
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