Grand Prix of Houston

NASCAR can’t monopolize 200-mile-per-hour excitement

In February’s Texas Monthly, Michael Hall described the “inland sea of beer,” mountains of litter and fortresses of merchandizing booths that surrounded the Texas Motor Speedway -- a former cow pasture outside of Fort Worth that became the eleventh-largest city in the state during November’s Dixie 500. If this enthusiasm spreads to non-NASCAR racing, Reliant Stadium can expect commotion that will make the rodeo seem like a tea party at this weekend’s Grand Prix of Houston.

Even if the Grand Prix can’t beat the tailgating that accompanies a NASCAR event, it certainly keeps up in terms of jaw-dropping automobiles. Saturday’s Lone Star Grand Prix will feature cars from the American Le Mans Series, based on those outfitted for France’s legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans race. And at today’s big event, Grand Prix of Houston, all eyes will no doubt be on the Panoz DP01, the recently introduced engineering marvel that helped Team Australia’s Will Power win the Las Vegas Grand Prix early this month. They have all the oomph of anything driven by Junior or Gordon -- just without so many brand logos.

Other happenings include beer gardens, live music, go-kart racing and the Miss Grand Prix of Houston Contest. It’s enough to show that NASCAR, despite its financial savvy, can’t hold a monopoly on extravaganza.
Fri., April 20; Sat., April 21; Sun., April 22, 7:30 a.m.

 
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