NASCAR Whelen, a series on the rise
Even though NASCAR is almost exclusively associated with the USA, the series’ European branch has its own growing fan base. NASCAR All-American Whelen started its life in 2008 as Racecar Euro-Series and it was created by French Team FJ Group.
During the first years, the events were held in France and 2010, it was approved by FIA, causing an expansion of events for 2011. In the following year, an agreement was made with NASCAR to sanction the series as its part, but it remained an International FIA one. In 2013, the series was renamed NASCAR Whelen Euro Series via a partnership with Whelen Engineering.
Unlike the American series, the cars are not racing in the ovals, but on six European tracks including Bugatti Circle in Le Mans, Nürburgring, Tours Speedway, Circuit Ricardo Tormo, Autodromo Dell’Umbria and Brands Hatch’s Indy layout. Also, the cars are divided into two classes – Elite I and Elite II and are all using the same Chevrolet V8 underneath a purely aesthetic bodywork representing Ford, Dodge, Chevrolet and Toyota.
The 2015 season kicked off on April 25 in Valencia, and will for the first time include a half-mile oval, the Raceway Venray in Netherlands. Following the great success of 2014 season, the cars will be back in Brands Hatch, and the finals will be held at Zolder this time. The qualifying will utilize the same three round long knock out sessions, and the cars have been improved since the last year.
Looking back at previous season, 2015 seems to be a year of an even greater breakthrough of NASCAR into European soil. The prize money of 250.000€ as well as many opportunities for drivers to compete in top American NASCAR events serve as a proof of increasing popularity in an oversaturated European racing scene.
The roaring big American V8 engines combined with the dynamics of European racetracks look very promising, and with NASCAR involvements, Whelen series has great potential to surge in popularity.