Drivers show ninja skills. Literally.

From After spending the weekend pondering the hair-pulling exercise that was the cancellation of Boston Grand Prix, we should probably remember that we are still fans of this sport and it’s drivers. Especially when said drives are auditioning for a remake of The Seven Samurai, or something.

Three INDYCAR drivers on a mission to prove doubters wrong: Are race car drivers really athletes?

Over two days on a uniquely complex obstacle course in downtown Indianapolis, they not only proved they were athletes, but also ninjas.

Helio Castroneves, Josef Newgarden and Tony Kanaan competed on NBC’s popular “American Ninja Warrior” show, set along Indianapolis’ Monument Circle and taped from dark to dusk Wednesday and Thursday nights. They were joined by hundreds of other competitors hoping to move past the qualifying rounds and into the finals, which take place in Las Vegas later this summer.

I first saw something about this on twitter a few weeks ago, and at the time it only mentioned Helio Castroneves as a participant. Which didn’t make sense since, let’s face it, if you had to pick a driver to navigate an obstacle course for ninjas you’d take Tony Kanaan. And if you wouldn’t, well, you’re just lying to yourself. Come on, the guy does Ironman triathlons just to pass the time.

As for the show itself, your humble host must admit that, as a father of four, one of whom is a 12-year-old boy, I may have seen an episode or two of American Ninja Warrior. In fact, as a former employee of VERSUS, I did in fact say, upon first viewing the show, “Hey, that’s the guy from Sports Soup!” If you haven’t seen the show and you’ve followed Indycar for more than 5 years, then you might have the same reaction.

Having drivers appear on these kinds shows is always entertaining, regardless of how they do, even though there’s always this air of desperation to prove they are athletes even though they sit down for a living. I’m not sure that’s still necessary though. Look at every type of motorsport that involves laps, and I’m pretty sure you’re going to find the majority of the participants are heavily focused on physical fitness. Tony Stewart notwithstanding.

Actually, I take it back – these kinds of shows are not ALWAYS entertaining. I remember in 2007 when I had to turn in my man card to watch THE ENTIRE SEASON of “Dancing With the Stars”. Each episode I was hoping Helio would get voted off so I could be done with that nonsense, but no such luck. He dragged me to the television all the way to the bitter end, and for that reason alone I hope he falls off the first ninja obstacle.

But he probably won’t. As my lovely wife noted upon hearing this news, “He’s kind of an overachiever.”

FINAL LAP: The article notes that NASCAR driver Ricky Stenhouse also participated, and was cheered on by his girlfriend, Danica Patrick. So why didn’t she give it a go like this young miss?

2 thoughts on “Drivers show ninja skills. Literally.

  1. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    May 4, 2016 at 1:35pm

    I hope they did better than Tom Sneva did on Superstars back in 1978. Granted, Sneva was later crowned “Cool-per Stars” champion of the 1978 contest on ESPN Classic’s Cheap Seats, due to his resemblance to Bill Gates.

  2. Permalink  ⋅ Reply


    May 6, 2016 at 12:58am

    That made me laugh out loud, until I realized I’ve never seen Tom Sneva and Bill Gates in the same room. Hmmm.

    And no, I won’t make a “windows crashing” joke at Sneva’s expense.

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