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TOURS, France – The Euro-Racecar Series will stage Europe’s first NASCAR-style oval event at the Tours Speedway on July 7-8.
Preparation for the race began some time ago with technical training taking place in the United States and collective testing being conducted on an oval with the support of NASCAR. It is a watershed event for motorsports in Europe.
This fourth round of the 2012 championship will be run in the same fashion as NASCAR events in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. While NASCAR-style race operation and procedures are routine for the established series, the concepts are new to the Euro-Racecar Series. A series delegation recently spent several days in the U.S. to train and interact with NASCAR officials.
The group spent time at the NASCAR R&D Center in Concord, N.C., to be briefed on regulations and procedures prior to seeing the practical application of these concepts during a NASCAR K&N Pro Series East event at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C.
The objective of the trip was to allow the two teams to interact face-to-face. Several NASCAR officials will be on hand at the Tours event to lend support and provide their expertise.
On June 11, the day following Euro-Racecar’s Spa 200, the teams enjoyed a change of scenery as competitors met in the French city of Nœux-les Mines, which boasts a quarter-mile oval circuit. While very different from the Tours venue, it provided a place for the competitors to cut their teeth on this form of racing.
As well as the debut of NASCAR-style competition in Europe, the test also represented the first time in NASCAR history that cars have run on an oval under wet conditions. Richard Buck, director of touring series for NASCAR, was on site to offer his support and advice.
“I am delighted with how this historic day went,” Buck commented afterwards. “There was a bit of apprehension and a lot of unknowns – especially as they started out on a wet track. That was a first for me and for NASCAR, but it all went well and eventually we were able to run double-file start and restart simulations. Everyone has done an excellent job.”
After a cautious beginning, the drivers quickly caught on and soon began work on car setup. All of the drivers and teams were enthusiastic about their maiden speedway experiences.
Romain Thiévin described his time on-track as, “more interesting and fun than I had expected.” Meanwhile Franck Violas, an American, commented, “Although I live in the U.S., I didn’t know half of what I’ve learned here. The races are going to be fantastic!”
The test also saw reigning series champion Eric Hélary return to the cockpit as he prepares to contest the Tours Speedway event to validate his entry for a NASCAR race, a reward for winning last year’s title.
“That was great,” said Hélary after his session. “When you are two or three tenths off the best lap times you have to go for it and push to the maximum. That’s when you realize that this is a (difficult) job that requires real driver skill.”
About TOURS SPEEDWAY
Tours Speedway, located in Tours, Indre-et-Loire, France, will host the NASCAR Touring Series’ inaugural European oval race. The .333-mile track is, 65 feet wide, but has no banking. It is, however, inspired by American short tracks. It's. The circuit is ringed by the same FIA-specification safety barriers as those used at Formula 1 street circuits such as Valencia. The venue will have a 5,000-seat grandstand.
Located in the heart of downtown Tours within close proximity of the fans, the event is being held in conjunction with the Country Bike Rock Festival that draws more than 35,000 visitors each year at the Parc des Expositions de Tours.
The racing spectacle will be unique with a genuine NASCAR format for the ELITE class and knockout stages for the OPEN division:
• Five races on Saturday July 7 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. including a 100-lap Elite race and four Open races, two 50-lap semifinals and a pair of 50-lap finals.
• Five races on Sunday July 8 from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. following the same format.
• Twenty-four cars shared by 48 drivers will do-battle at this European premiere.