The Indy 500 Is Way Better If You’re Hanging With TAG Heuer, Chris Hemsworth, And Alexander Rossi
I daily a TAG Heuer Formula 1. Battle scars and all, this watch has exclusively been on the wrist through some fantastic drives and memories, but also annoying breakdowns and breakups—automotive and otherwise.
It’s no revelation that TAG Heuer has an intimate relationship with racing and obviously as a car guy that’s an overlap I certainly appreciate. We see tons of racing photos at Petrolicious (hard work, I know) and it’s special seeing Heuer logos in the foreground of some of motorsport’s finest moments. So when I learned I’d be attending the 102nd Indianapolis 500 with TAG Heuer as they debuted two new watches, including a new Formula 1, I wasn’t disappointed to say the least. Here’s my attempt at quantifying one of the greatest automotive experiences in my life.
Welcome To The Racing Capital Of The World
Upon arrival, I was greeted with enthusiasm by TAG Heuer VP of Marketing / mega car guy Andrea Soriani, Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi, and intense humidity. Andrea spoke passionately about TAG’s earliest flirtations with motorsport while Rossi casually told the story of running out of fuel on the last laps of his 2016 Indy 500 win as a rookie (wild!).
Since inception, TAG Heuer has been in love with automobiles and racing. Here are a few bullet points that paint the history in broad strokes:
- Edouard Heuer, who founded the company, was constantly late for things, which was the initial step in bringing watches and cars together.
- Later, with both automotive and aviation on the rise, they famously debuted the Autavia—the name simply derived from “Auto” and “Avia[tion].”
- Ayrton Senna, a guy you might have heard of, was reportedly a huge fan of the comfortable S/el, one of the few watches that was a “bracelet-first” design.
- Similarly, if you haven’t seen Hodinkee’s interview with racing legend Mario Andretti, you can get a sense for how memorable each TAG Heuer in his collection is.
Racers, Start Your Engines
120,000 people (many without t-shirts) means the Indy 500 is the largest single-day sporting event in the world—and it feels like it, undoubtedly. There’s a massive energy and the pre-race activities remind you this iconic race is on America’s mantle of pride. A rolling start means you see the cars hit nearly 200MPH right from the get go. Witnessing the start of the race is worth the trip alone, and seeing the cars three abreast on lap 1 is special, special stuff.
A Chat With James Hunt, I Mean Chris Hemsworth
Chris Hemsworth was also hanging around the track. In fact, he kicked off the race by waving the flag (we were all a bit jealous). I was curious to know if after starring in Rush, Chris had the itch to jump into amateur or professional racing like so many great actors (including fellow TAG ambassador Patrick Dempsey).
Shayan Bokaie: You famously played James Hunt and recently drove a Formula E car, any ambitions to start a little racing career of your own?
Chris Hemsworth: No. I discovered I’m not very good (chuckles). I drove go karts a lot growing up with my brother and dad and really enjoyed both of the experiences you’re talking about but not a career move for me. Back in Australia, I grew up mainly riding motor bikes, and it’s easier to step out the front door and ride on the beach, bushland, and coastal tracks which ticks the box for me.
SB: After experiencing vintage and modern F1 cars up close as well as Formula E, what differences do you feel here at Indy?
CH: Well, I was at Monaco and there was an incredible atmosphere – the crowd, noise, and visual stimulus. Formula E is obviously a lot quieter, but your other senses are probably forced to be more alert but found both to be incredibly entertaining. The speeds here at Indy are amazing—when I was standing up in the crows nest waving the flag to start the race and the cars come flying at you, you really get a feel for it. Very intense.
SB: I spotted the TAG Heuer Calibre 01 Indy 500 edition on your wrist, can you tell me about it?
CH: I’ve got a few of the Calibre 01s but this one’s obviously quite special being 1 of 112 built. I’ve got number 82—cheers, brother!
After expressing that I was a fan of the Formula 1 watch, I was able to snag the new Indy 500 edition and wear it around for the majority of the race, which was a full circle moment for me considering I wear one everyday. Later, I got my hands on the Calibre 01 as well, which was even more surreal considering that Will Power was about to be awarded one for winning the race. Staring at the skeleton face at first glance gives you the same wondrous feeling of staring into the bowels of an engine for the first time.
All In All
Watches, cars, and a historic race—there really isn’t a better way to spend a weekend so we’re very appreciate to TAG Heuer for hosting and sharing the moment with us. Also, huge congrats to Alexander Rossi for a blistering and brilliant 32nd to 4th drive – he is the real deal! It’s great to see true cars guys continuing to bring watches and racing closer together and help us all geek out on all of it.