ROC FACTOR WINNERS RZADZINSKI AND GLUSMAN TO COMPETE IN MIAMI'S ROC NATIONS CUP By: Race of Champions
Two relatively unknown drivers have won the opportunity to compete at this month's Race Of Champions inside Miami's Marlins Park following a unique ROC Factor contest based on a social media vote
◾Canada's Stefan Rzadzinski will team up with IndyCar star James Hinchcliffe while Argentina's Gabriel Glusman will race alongside Brazilian Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves in the ROC Nations Cup on Sunday January 22
◾The winners will race a field including Team USA NASCAR's Kyle and Kurt Busch, Team USA IndyCar's Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay and Team USA Rally X's Travis Pastrana and Scott Speed – all in identical cars
◾Other competitors include Formula 1 greats Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button, Felipe Massa and David Coulthard, 'Mr Le Mans' Tom Kristensen, FIA World Rallycross Champion Petter Solberg plus Indy 500 winners Tony Kanaan and Juan-Pablo Montoya
◾The race is part of ROC Miami – taking place inside Marlins Park on January 21-22, with tickets still on sale at www.raceofchampions.com
Canada's Stefan Rzadzinski and Argentina's Gabriel Glusman have won the chance of a lifetime to take on the racing legends competing at the first Race Of Champions on American soil – inside Marlins Park in Miami on January 21-22, 2017.
Rzadzinski and Glusman came out on top in the ROC Factor competition, based on a social media vote. The contest was open to anyone with a passport from anywhere in the Americas – from Alaska to Cape Horn – before 10 drivers from North America and 10 from Latin America were selected for the vote. 26,000 votes were cast in all, and Rzadzinski used local television to help secure an impressive win, even seeing off the challenge of IndyCar racer Conor Daly. Glusman's win was closer: with virtually nothing separating the Argentine and Colombia's Jaime Guerrero, the ROC Factor Jury made the final decision.
Now these two ROC Factor winners have won the chance to race against some of the world's best drivers in identical cars – live on TV all over the world – in the ROC Nations Cup on Sunday January 22. The newly re-named Team ROC Factor Canada will see Rzadzinski line up alongside fellow countryman and IndyCar star James Hinchcliffe. Glusman will pair up with Brazil's triple Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves on Team ROC Factor Latin America.
Hailing from Edmonton, 24-year-old Rzadzinski has been competing since 2001 in a variety of machinery including open wheel, NASCAR and touring cars. He works as a software technician and most recently contested Canada's Nissan Micra Cup (pictured above). Glusman, by contrast, only started racing karts at the age of 25. He has completed a couple of track days at classic European circuits Spa-Francorchamps (pictured below) and Donington in a Caterham and a Formula Ford. Now the 33-year-old is preparing for a big step up…
Rzadzinski said: 'I'm so happy I don't even know what to say. Thank you everyone in Edmonton, Canada and around the world who has come on board. I couldn't have done it without any of you. It was the most stressful four and a half days in my life and I can't believe I made it. Racing is not that big of a sport here. It's tough to get a story out in this part of the world. It's not hockey! I think we had a compelling story and that's what got it. This has been unreal. I could be lining up next to Sebastian Vettel next week!'
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Glusman added: 'Winning this competition and being part of ROC is a dream come true. It's the closest I've ever come to being a racing driver and I don't think I'll fully understand its meaning until I'm really there, if ever. In the past I have paid for tickets to see all of these great drivers, I follow them every weekend as they race around the world and admire them immensely. So I can't even begin to describe my feelings right now! The competition was tough but I can tell all the other finalists that I wanted this with every cell of my body. I will enjoy it and treasure it for all of us!'
The prize really is a racer's dream, competing against a field featuring some of the world's best drivers. Team USA NASCAR features Kyle and Kurt Busch, Team USA IndyCar pairs Indianapolis 500 winners Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay and Team USA Rally X partners action sports aces Travis Pastrana and Scott Speed.
Other racers in action include Formula 1 world champions Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button, fellow F1 greats Felipe Massa and David Coulthard, 'Mr Le Mans' Tom Kristensen, Indianapolis 500 winners Juan Pablo Montoya and Tony Kanaan, IndyCar star Gabby Chaves plus double World Rallycross Champion Petter Solberg.
The ROC Factor was started in connection with the Race Of Champions at London's Olympic Stadium last year. The first winner, Bradley Philpot, even won his first round race and enjoyed the time of his life, hanging out with motor sport's legends behind the scenes.
The Race Of Champions is an annual contest which has been held for over 25 years. It brings together some of the world's greatest drivers from motor sport's major disciplines – including Formula 1, NASCAR, IndyCar, Le Mans, MotoGP, Touring Cars, World Rally and action sports – and sets them free to battle head-to-head in identical machinery. All the racing takes place in a stunning range of superfast cars.
The ROC event is run over two days: first comes the Race Of Champions itself (on Saturday, January 21) featuring a flat-out battle for individual glory. Then on Sunday, January 22 comes the ROC Nations Cup when drivers pair up based on nationality to bid for the title of 'World's Fastest Nation'. In 2017, four North American teams will take on the rest of the world in a special contest to celebrate the host venue.
In recent years, ROC has visited the Stade de France in Paris (2004-2006), London's Wembley Stadium (2007-2008), the 'Bird's Nest' Olympic Stadium in Beijing (2009), Düsseldorf's Esprit Arena (2010-2011), the Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok (2012), Bushy Park Barbados (2014) and London's former Olympic Stadium (2015).
Now the event is heading to the United States for the first time to soak up the heat of Miami. Florida's sports fans will have a chance to watch the speediest action Marlins Park has ever seen as many of the world's greatest drivers push to the absolute limit on a specially-designed racing track winding its way around the infield and outfield.
But that's not all. The Race Of Champions has non-stop action from start to finish – featuring stunt shows on four wheels and two wheels plus DJs, cheerleaders and plenty of other entertainment to keep race fans on the edge of their seats.
ROC president Fredrik Johnsson said: 'We were thrilled to offer this chance for all aspiring racers from Alaska down to Cape Horn – whether or not they had any prior experience. Our ROC Factor winners Stefan and Gabriel both had huge support on social media and elsewhere. Now it has earned them the right to battle some of the world's best in identical cars on our unique track inside Miami's Marlins Park.
'With IndyCar greats James Hinchcliffe and Helio Castroneves as their team-mates, who knows what our ROC Factor winners can now achieve? They'll be taking on a world class field but they have the chance to surprise all of them and take home the ROC Nations Cup crown. Now we look forward to welcoming a packed crowd to Marlins Park next week to cheer them all on.'
Tickets for ROC Miami are now available via www.raceofchampions.com. For access to rights-free high-resolution imagery and to keep up with all the latest news ahead of this year's event please visit ROC's website, Race Of Champions on Facebook plus @raceofchampions and #ROCMiami on Twitter.
Drivers already confirmed for ROC Miami:
Sebastian VETTEL, four-time Formula 1 world champion
Tom KRISTENSEN, nine-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner
Petter SOLBERG, double FIA World Rallycross champion
Juan-Pablo MONTOYA, 2015 Indianapolis 500 winner
Ryan HUNTER-REAY, 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner
Tony KANAAN, 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner
Felipe MASSA, 11-time Formula 1 grand prix winner
Kurt BUSCH, 2004 NASCAR champion
Travis PASTRANA, action sports legend
Scott SPEED, double Global Rallycross champion
Alexander ROSSI, 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner
Gabby Chaves, 2015 IndyCar Series and Indy 500 Rookie of the Year
David COULTHARD, 13-time Formula 1 Grand Prix winner
Jenson BUTTON, 2009 Formula 1 world champion
Kyle BUSCH, 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion
James HINCHCLIFFE, 2016 Indianapolis 500 pole sitter
Helio CASTRONEVES, triple Indianapolis 500 winner
Stefan RZADZINSKI, 2011 Western Canadian Driver of the Year!
Gabriel GLUSMAN, two track days and counting…