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EURO-RACECAR Begins NASCAR Era

Season Opener April 7; First Oval Event Set For July
By Shon Sbarra, NASCAR
March 30, 2012 - 8:00am

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – While a motorsports staple in North America, stock-car racing in Europe is something new to the menu.  However, on April 7 in Nogaro, France, site of the season opener for EURO-RACECAR, it will take a grand step forward.

Since its inception in 2009, the EURO-RACECAR series was modeled with NASCAR in mind. This season, the series will compete under the NASCAR banner and becomes part of the NASCAR developmental system joining the NASCAR K&N Pro Series (East and West), the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour in the United States. It also joins the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series in Canada and the NASCAR Toyota Series in Mexico from an international perspective providing opportunities for drivers all over the world to begin their journey up the NASCAR ladder with the hope of competing in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event one day.

Historically, the series has competed on road courses throughout Europe, but NASCAR is about racing on ovals. A new day dawns there, as well. On July 7-8 as part of the Country Bike Rock Festival in Tours, France, EURO-RACECAR will make history and stage its first event on an oval track.

tours04_web_350.jpgTopping the attractions for the festival that includes, concerts, rodeos and many other events, a temporary .373-mile (600m) oval will be constructed and called ‘Tours Speedway.’ The festival in its sixth year has an American-theme and is expected to attract upwards of 50,000 visitors.

“This fourth race of the regular season, but the first one in Europe on an oval track will give (spectators) the opportunity to see 60 highly-motivated drivers behind the steering wheels of their V8-powered race cars,” said Jérôme Galpin, CEO of Team FJ, who created the series.

Equally excited about this first-time event are the organizers of the Country Bike Rock Festival.

"We know the passion of French for motorsports, and I am very happy to have one race of this series on an oval urban track, in France, here in Tours,” said Denis Schwok, President of the Management Board of Tours Evenement. “Our common goal is to offer great races in a breathtaking atmosphere where sport will also be a show. It will be a benefit for the city, but economically, too, for the shops and hotels.”

Racing on an oval will be a different environment for series regulars, who likely could be termed ‘road-course ringers’ in the United States. The opportunity for the race lead to change hands several times over the course of the race is an exciting proposition.

“For me, racing means show. Oval races are the best ones in terms of show and you cannot say who is going to win before the checkered flag. This is what I love in racing and what (the fans) expect,” said Eric Helary, the 2011 EURO-RACECAR champion. “Tours will be, for sure, a unique event and the beginning of a new way to race in Europe.”

One driver committed to racing in Tours is not a stranger to oval racing nor is the significance of the event for NASCAR lost.  Ben Kennedy, 20, a NASCAR K&N Pro Series regular plans to compete in the historic race and is the son of NASCAR Vice Chairwoman/Executive Vice President Lesa France Kennedy and the great-grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr.

“This is an exciting opportunity. I’ve heard great things about EURO-RACECAR,” said Kennedy. “To be a part of their first race on an oval is a great experience for me and should be a lot of fun.”

As a member of NASCAR’s rock of foundation, the France family, the impact of NASCAR’s involvement in EURO-RACECAR and its staging an oval-track event resounds loud and clear to the young driver.

“It’s definitely special. NASCAR is huge in the United State and now is growing strong roots in Canada and Mexico,” stated the University of Florida student. “Europe has great history in motorsports and the fans are passionate. This should be a perfect fit.”

NASCAR and EURO-RACECAR announced last year that they reached a long-term partnership making EURO-RACECAR a NASCAR Touring Series becoming the doorstep for European drivers to race in other NASCAR series.

Racing with tubular-chassis cars powered by American V8 engines, and placing a priority on fans and great competition, EURO-RACECAR has worked hard to adapt the keys that have made NASCAR popular worldwide.

The series will stay under the exclusive management of Team FJ, its creator and organizer, and registered as an FIA International Series. NASCAR will provide its knowledge and expertise to develop the series in Europe and create a high-level of competition.

To learn more about EURO-RACECAR, go to www.racecarseries.com.