Speed thrills: Bahrain sailors take a drive with Formula One wonderkid (update w/video link)


Formula One driver Alexander Rossi, right, spins a sailor from the coastal patrol boat Typhoon around a makeshift track April 17 at Naval Support Activity Bahrain. (Navy photo by MC2 Bryan Blair)

Most stories about auto-racing drivers supporting the Navy come in variations of the same flavor: Either a NASCAR superstar visits a fleet concentration area somewhere stateside, or a flag officer makes his way to Charlotte and ends up talking to a future Sprint Cup champion casually leaning on a pile of raw horsepower.

Rarely do you see, say, a 21-year-old American driving on the world’s most elite racing circuit spend some of his downtime before a big race taking sailors out for joyrides. Pierside. In Bahrain.

Alexander Rossi is a “reserve driver” for the Caterham Formula One team. In addition to testing duties, he competes in the GP2 series — somewhat like triple-A baseball or NASCAR’s Nationwide circuit. His first GP2 event for Caterham was over the weekend in Bahrain, where he scored a third-place finish in the feature race before struggling a bit in the sprint race.

Most sailors might not follow the twists and turns of F1 minor-league competition. But Rossi made a few friends in the lead-up to his races, taking sailors from the coastal patrol boat Typhoon and Riverine Squadron 2 for rides on a makeshift pierside track at Naval Support Activity Bahrain, according to a Navy news release.

Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class Bryan Blair wrote the release and also snapped a few pics; click through for those shots and a bit more about Rossi and the sailors he visited.

F1 driver, arriving. This was before the riverine unit got a hold of him.

Usually the car is the blur. But when you focus on the car — this one’s holding Rossi and Electrician’s Mate 2nd Class Walter Miller from Typhoon — everybody else is a blur.


Remember, when squealing your tires in front of your shipmates while still on official U.S. Navy property, be sure it’s with a trained professional.


Chief Boatswain’s Mate Kelton Ringo, Typhoon’s chief of the boat, is gently persuaded by his crew to get in the car with Rossi.


Gunner’s Mate 1st Class Wick Woodrow gets some TV time with NBC Sports’ Will Buxton, left, and Rossi. Rossi, per the Navy release, praised the fleet during his TV spot: “You know you hear stories, and you think you have a general understanding of what goes on, but then you get out here and get a tour of the ships and meet the guys and see the dedication, passion and commitment for what they do and it’s truly amazing.” (UPDATE: Watch the NBC Sports piece here.)

Follow Rossi on Twitter here. Get your non-F1 military-themed sports news here.



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