Indy 500 Showed Fernando Alonso That Americans See ‘Beyond Nationalities’

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Fernando Alonso’s Indianapolis 500 debut was enlightening in more ways than one.

For the Spaniard, the 500-mile race not only let him experience a foreign category of motorsport, it also exposed him to American sport fandom.

Although Alonso has raced in the United States in all but four of his 16 seasons in Formula One, competing in front of more than 200,000 American race fans at Indianapolis Motor Speedway still was a culture shock. He recently told CNN Sport that was surprised by how welcoming IndyCar fans were, saying he expected them to cheer exclusively for homegrown drivers in the “Great American Race.”

“It’s kind of a feeling that the sport is beyond nationalities, or anything like that,” Alonso said. “All of us there, we were heroes for all the people in the grandstands. They support all of us the same way and really enjoy the race.”

There admittedly were some who struggled to see past the flags that drivers raced under, but the overwhelming majority of American race fans went Alonso crazy in the buildup to the Indy 500.

As a result, the 36-year-old McLaren-Honda driver will sport his Indy 500 helmet design during Sunday’s U.S. Grand Prix as a thank you to American fans.

Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images

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