Formula drivers, rally drivers, NASCAR drivers, and touring class drivers all battle it out on a level field at Wembley Stadium for the "Champion of Champions" crown,.
In 1988, a media exec paired up with a rally driver to create the ultimate level-field drivers' challenge. The Race of Champions has since expanded from a gimmick, to a competition between sixteen well-knowns and unknowns to determine a Champion of Champions.
This year's racers include WRC driver Mattias Ekstrom, last year's champion back to defend his title. F1 legend and 2007 ROC Runner-up Michael Schumacher will be paired with F1 driver Sebastian Vettel. Schumacher lost by the narrowest of margins in the final last year, and will no doubt seek revenge against Ekstrom. The Schumacher/Vettel duo will be defending their 2007 "Fastest Nation" title. Also attending will be WRC ace Sebastien Loeb, F3 Champion Jaime Alguersuari, WTCC champ Andy Priaulx, NASCAR winner Carl Edwards, and BTCC champion-cum-tv presenter Jason Plato.
The Race itself, held at Wembley Stadium, consists of knockout rounds between two driver teams on a parallel track. Five different cars are used for the event, with each head-to-head using identical cars. By the end of the competition, winning drivers have raced several different vehicles.
And they're not even similar types of cars. This year's batch include the Ford Focus WRC 08, KTM X-Bow, Abarth 500 Assetto Corse, and the RX Racing RX150 rally cross vehicle. The last, ROC Car, was designed specifically for the event. It is a 475 kg lightweight fixed to a 1.1 Litre 4-banger that produces 170 hp and 115 Nm of torque.
This year will also feature the ninth edition of the ROC Nations Cup, where the drivers represent their homelands for the title of "Fastest Nation in the World." This year's teams hail from Australia, France, Ireland, Germany, the UK, and the USA. There is also a generic Team Scandinavia, helmed by Danish Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen and Ekstrom, a Swede.
One other highlight this year will be a man against machine battle between F1 champion Lewis Hamilton and three-time Beijing Olympic gold medal track cyclist Chris Hoy. Hoy, a Scotsman, will mount his Dolan racetrack bike, averaging 2.5 horsepower, and Hamilton will pilot a 670 bhp McLaren Mercedes SLR.