Three Biggest Names to have Raced in NASCAR and F1

WATKINS GLEN, NEW YORK - AUGUST 20: Kimi Raikkonen, driver of the #91 Recogni Chevrolet, walks the grid during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series Go Bowling at The Glen at Watkins Glen International on August 20, 2022 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

NASCAR remains the premier motorsport in the US and by some distance. However, there can be no denying that Formula One’s popularity has shot through the roof in recent years. Between 2007 and 2012, the Land of the Free didn’t host single grand prix. However, as of last season, there are now three stateside races on the calendar, more than any other country. The first of those is the Mami Grand Prix, which was recently won by McLaren’s Lando Norris, with the Briit claiming his first-ever victory. Two more will follow later in the campaign, firstly in Austin and then in Las Vegas.

Of course, it is the Cup Series that truly gets American petrolheads on the edge of their seats though. The latest NASCAR lines and futures have made the likes of Ty Gibbs and the legendary Bubba Wallace the favorites for the coveted trophy this season, pricing the former as a +150 frontrunner, with the latter shortly behind him at +450. But it wasn’t too long ago that illustrious names from the world of Formula One were featured in NASCAR betting lists. Here are the three biggest names to have ever competed in both disciplines.

Kimi Räikkönen

Finnish driver Kimi Räikkönen made his Formula 1 debut way back in 2001 with Sauber and quickly ascended to stardom. after several impressive performances as a rookie, he made the move to McLaren to replace outgoing compatriot Mkka Haakknen. And he proved that he was one of the finest drivers on the planet. He pushed Michael Schumacher close in not one but two title battles, but he would never win the world championship with the British team.

He would have to make the move to Ferrar for that to happen. In 2007, he managed to take full advantage of Lewis Hamlton’s dramatic collapse, winning the final two races of the campaign to be crowned champion of the world for the first and only time. Since then, he has gone on to rack up plenty more honors.

in 2011, The Iceman took a break from F1 and ventured into NASCAR, adding another chapter to his storied career. He participated in both the Camping World Truck Series and the Nationwide – now Xfinity – Series, with varying levels of success. Despite being new to the stock car racing scene, Räikkönen’s adaptability was evident. He drove for Kyle Busch Motorsports and showed promise, finishing 15th in his Truck Series debut at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Following that stint, the veteran returned to Formula One for another decade. He first made his way to Lotus Renault, becoming the first and only driver in history to win for the team at the 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. He then made the move back to Ferrari, where he proved to be a reliable second-in-command to team leader Sebastian Vettel. Since his retirement in 2021, he has tried his hand at NASCAR once more, twice featuring for Trackhouse Racing in the Cup Series.

Juan Pablo Montoya

Hailing from Colombia, Juan Pablo Montoya first made waves in CART,  where he won the championship in his rookie season in 1999. His prowess caught the attention of the F1 paddock, leading to his debut with Williams in 2001 as a teammate of world champion Michael Schumacher’s younger brother Ralf. And if one thought that the new man would be overroared by the step up, they could think again.

Montoya’s career was marked by his aggressive driving and remarkable overtaking maneuvers. He secured seven Grand Prix victories and numerous podium finishes during his stints with Williams and McLaren. His battles with the aforementioned Schumacher while driving for the first of those two teams will live long in the memory, and he was one of the few drivers on the grid who were willing to take the fight to the legendary German.

However, the Colombian’s insatiable drive for new challenges led him back to the United States, where he joined NASCAR in 2006. Driving for Chip Ganassi Racing, he competed in the Cup Series, making perhaps the biggest impact of any driver that has crossed over between the two disciplines. He achieved two race wins, including a victory at the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway, a track known for its technical difficulty.

Jacques Villeneuve

Son of legendary former world champion Gilles, Jacques Villeneuve carved out his legacy in the world of motorsport. The Canadian driver first shot to stardom when he won the illustrious Indianapolis 500, triggering his move to the Williams F1 Team. And there he went on to have more success than he could have ever imagined.

He won the World Championship in just his second season in 1997, becoming one of the few drivers to achieve such a feat so quickly and defeating Schumi in the process. Throughout the decade that followed, he would drive for a whole host of teams including BAR, Renault, and Sauber. But in 2007, he was on the hunt for a new challenge.

Villeneuve transitioned to NASCAR, later that year, racing in the Truck and Nationwide Series, and even making appearances in the Cup Series as well. Although he did not achieve the same level of success as in F1, his determination to master a new discipline was evident. His best finish in the Cup Series was a commendable 21st place at the 2007 UAW-Ford 500.