NASCAR’s popularity is undoubtedly thanks to its adrenaline-producing muscle cars that keep fans coming back for more! It has amassed a massive following in the US, but does Europe share the same enthusiasm? My time in Europe revealed some interesting insights on the European version of NASCAR.
The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series is the European version of NASCAR. It is most popular in the UK and broadcasts on Sky TV, . Races happen on 17 race tracks across Italy, England, France, Croatia, Germany, Netherlands, France, Belgium, and the Czech Republic.
NASCAR’s popularity is steadily growing in Europe, despite having to wrestle against Formula One and Moto GP giants.
Is There A European Version Of NASCAR?
NASCAR is no stranger to fame and fortune in the US, enjoying an average of 10 million viewers per race. What then of its global presence, particularly in Europe? The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series (previously called Racecar Euro Series and Euro-Racecar NASCAR Touring Series) is Europe’s official NASCAR stock-car racing series.
The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series is one of NASCAR’s three international-sanctioned series, alongside the NASCAR Pinty’s Series and the NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series. French rally driver Jérôme Galpin received inspiration to start a European-based stock car racing series after watching a NASCAR race in 2002.
When Did The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Start?
Consequently, His family group, Team FJ, started the Racecar Euro Series in June 2008 and announced that the first season would happen the following year as an FFSA-sanctioned (Federation Francaise du Sport Automobile) series. Its name changed to “NASCAR Whelen Euro Series” when Whelen Engineering became the title sponsor of the series in 2018.
The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series uses NASCAR-style vehicles on European circuits. The Euro-NASCAR cars are based on NASCAR cars from the US, although their design and engineering make them uniquely suited to racing exclusively on European courses.
A new generation of automobiles debuted in 2016, with a revised composite body and a new aerodynamic package. Instead of the wing used in the previous generation, these cars have an 8-inch rear spoiler. The vehicles have a 450 horsepower V8 engine, rear-wheel drive, four-speed manual transmission, and they weigh 1225 kg (2700 pounds).
Furthermore, with its announcement on March 25, 2021, the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series became the first NASCAR series to use sequential gears. Sequential transmissions will be optional in 2021, one year before the NASCAR Cup Series introduces sequential gearboxes with the Next Gen vehicle.
Where Are The Euro-NASCAR Race Courses?
There are 18 Euro-NASCAR tracks throughout Europe, including Italy, England, France, Croatia, Germany, Netherlands, France, Belgium, and the Czech Republic. Let’s explore three of these racing tracks.
Brands Hatch, West Kingsdown, England
The Brands Hatch Circuit boasts an interesting motor racing track located in West Kingsdown, Kent, England. Originally an agricultural grass track motorcycle circuit, it staged 12 British Grand Prix races between 1964 and 1986 and now stages various British and international racing events. Jonathan Palmer’s MotorSport Vision organization owns and operates the venue.
Trevor Hopkins, a four-time British Rallycross Champion, developed and built the British Rallycross Circuit at Brands Hatch. It’s about 0.9 miles long, and its construction took place in 1981.
Circute Ricardo Tormo, Velencia, Spain
Circuit Ricardo Tormo, popularly known as Circuit de Valencia and formally called Circuit de la Comunitat Valenciana Ricardo Tormo, is a 2.489-mile motorsport racing track established in 1999 in Cheste.
The circuit gets its name from Ricardo Tormo, a two-time world champion Grand Prix motorcycle racer who passed away from leukemia in 1998. It features a 120,000-capacity and a 0.544-mile main straight. Since 2014, Valencia has hosted the season-opening round of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series.
The Hockenheimring is a motor racing track located on the Bertha Benz Memorial Route in the Rhine valley in Hockenheim, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It has held the German Grand Prix, among other motor racing events, most recently in 2019.
Starting in 1932 and concluding in 2002, the racecourse has undergone several name changes and course modifications. The track consists of asphalt, with 17 bends and a total racing length of 2842 miles.
The Hockenheimring racing track has hosted a myriad of other championships, including the World RX of Hockenheimring, International GT Open, TCR Europe, Formula One, and many more.
Does the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Race on Ovals?
Despite Europe being more famous for its winding race tracks or its street races like Monaco there are Oval tracks throughout the continent that NASCAR Whelen Euro has used. Although most of the races are run on road courses, the Venray Raceway and Tours Speedway were oval race tracks in the series.
The Tours Speedway was unfortunately last used in 2018, and despite a contract that ran until 2022 venray has been replaced by Automotodrom Grobnik in Croatia. Hopefully an Oval track can make an appearance again soon.
What Cars does the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Use?
Currently the manufacturers involved in the NASCAR Whelen Euro series are as follows,
- Ford – Mustang
- Chevrolet – Camaro
- Shadow – DNM8
- EuroNASCAR Fj – rebranded from Chevrolet SS
Shadow Racing are a new addition in the 2021 season.
because the cars specifications are almost identical the aesthetics are mostly just for show. The specifications of the cars are in the table below.
|NASCAR Whelen Euro Car Details||Statistics|
|Weight||2,701 lb (1225 kg)|
|Height||51 inches (1300 mm)|
|Length||200 inches (5080 mm)|
|Power||400 horse power|
|Aspiration||Naturally Aspirated (no turbos)|
|Chassis||Tubular steel frame and rollcage as standard|
|Engine Displacement||5.7 Litre V8|
|Wheelbase||77 inches (1950mm)|
The Race of Champions
As the cars are near identical they have been used outside of NASCAR for the Race of Champions. Which takes the best drivers from Formula One, World rally, NASCAR, indy, Sports Cars, and Touring Cars and puts them in indentical cars.
No NASCAR driver has won as of yet, but plenty have taken part including Kyle and Kurt busch, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon. other notable names include David Coulthard, Jenson Button and Sebastian vettel and Michael Schumacher from Formula 1, Tom Kristensen from Le Mans, Sebastian Loeb the 9x World Rally Champion.
The Next Race is in Sweden on snow and ice, at Pite Havsbad on February 5 – 6, 2022 so not too hopeful a NASCAR driver will emerge victorious on that track either, though, maybe it will be like the dirt track at Bristol!
We have a larger article on this here.
How Popular Is NASCAR In Europe?
NASCAR traveled a long way, and its popularity has climbed considerably in Europe, especially Great Britain.
Until 2007 when NASCAR signed a new television agreement and added Juan Pablo Montoya to the series, the sport began to gain worldwide traction. Furthermore, the appearance of Australian racing great Marcos Ambrose also generated a sizeable amount of interest.
Because of Montoya’s involvement, NASCAR garnered Formula One fans’ attention. Europe is where he has the most fans outside of his home nation. The new TV arrangement allowed both Cup and Nationwide Series events to air live in the United States.
As more people became aware of NASCAR, it was only a matter of time before social media’s influence improved NASCAR’s presence exponentially. The NASCAR Fans UK Facebook and Twitter pages now have a large following.
They compete with Formula One in bringing NASCAR news to British fans. Similar stories exist all throughout Europe, and NASCAR is undoubtedly one of the continent’s fastest-growing sports.
That said, it may take a good amount of effort to catch up to other racing sports. In the UK, for example, NASCAR only broadcasts on Sky television, which is behind a premium subscription. It also airs during a time of day when many people are sleeping or at the pub.
Consequently, most of the NASCAR exposure people receive is from watching American TV or movies. The most popular motorsport in the UK remains Formula One, although the World Rally Championship is has a good fanbase.
The European Circuit races are one way of allowing fans to access NASCAR racing, without setting an alarm clock for 3 am in the morning!
Who has Won the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series?
The most successful Driver in recent NASCAR Whelen Euro Series in Alon Day from israel. However there have been other successful drivers over the years.
|Driver||NASCAR Whelen Euro Championships||Country|
One name familiar to NASCAR fans in America will be Jacques Villeneuve from Canada who raced from on occasion in the NASCAR cup series and is a former World Champion F1 driver. He appears to have tried his hand at every form of racing there is.
He took his first victory in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series in October 2021 and is now making a move back to NASCAR Cup with Hezeberg racing in 2022. A European team returning to NASCAR!. He was also part for the testing of the Next gen car at Daytona and is trying to qualify for the race. We have more on Team Herzberg here.
Given some time, NASCAR will undoubtedly capture the hearts of European fans in the same way as it did US fans. If you’re in Europe and you get the chance, don’t miss the opportunity to watch a thrilling NASCAR race, whether it be on television or otherwise!
Now you can shout for a European Team for the first time in a very long time!