After closing the 2017 season on the rise by scoring its first ever NASCAR win with Marc Goossens, Braxx Racing is taking the next step. The Belgian team will arrive at Valencia, Spain for the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season opener with strong title ambitions and an expanded three-car lineup, featuring cycling legend Tom Boonen and Rallycross and GT driver Pedro Bonnet alongside owner/driver Jerry De Weerdt and returning ace Marc Goossens. To further reinforce the team’s core, Braxx Racing will also bring to the track motorsports legend Bill Riley to serve as track engineer.
A major step forward for the team
Braxx Racing founder and driver Jerry De Weerdt, a two-time Legend Trophy winner and a Challenger Trophy winner, is proud of the big step forward the entire organization is taking. The Aartselaar, Belgium resident made his debut in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series in 2013 and the entered his own team in the 2014 Finals and it kept growing steadily ever since.
“We’re aiming for the biggest goal this year. With Marc we have a very fast, professional and consistent driver and with the addition of Bill, who worked with Marc for 20 years, I think we can go for the title. It won’t be easy because everybody is getting better and better, but we’ll be in the best shape we’ve ever been. We will also try to score as many podiums as possible in the Trophies,” stated De Weerdt, who made his Daytona International Speedway debut in February in the ARCA Racing Series season opener. “With Tom and Pedro we have drivers with very different backgrounds and I’m confident they’ll do great things for us and the series. At Braxx we are committing to the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series long term, I’ve been going to America and we’re linked with Patriots Motorsports. We want to grow even more. Our new shop will be ready in April and we’ll have very interesting news for our fans about it soon.”
Marc Goossens hunting for the title
Marc Goossens played a major role in Braxx Racing’s breakout season last year. The Belgian veteran raced a part-time schedule in the last two seasons, but was decisive and in developing the team’s cars and bringing them to the front of the grid, giving Braxx the first ELITE 1 podium in 2016 and the the first NASCAR win in the final race of 2017 at Circuit Zolder.
“We ended last year on a high with a splendid win. During the winter the idea was that if we could be in contention for the title we would need to step up our game a little bit and so we did. We expanded the team and we’re improving basically every area. We went on the podium many times without doing tests and with a partial schedule, so this time we want to take the next step.” said the Geel-native. “Bill’s name came up in talking with Jerry. I’ve been driving his cars on and off since 20 years and when we talked about it he jumped onboard. It’s a big boost for the team and for my confidence to have him with us and I think Braxx reflects well the spirit you live in American motorsports: the level is very high but there is also a great atmosphere in the team.”
About the expectations for the upcoming season, Goossens said:
“We’re not trying to the reinvent the wheel. If we stay close the the basics, use our time better, go testing and we’ll optimize our work, we’ll be strong. I’m sure Bill will be a great addition to the team and as soon as he’ll be up to speed with what the car needs and how the drivers prefer it we’ll show some pretty good things. Both Pedro and Tom can progress through the season and if they score good points at the beginning they will be able to contend in the end. They’ll learn quickly for sure.The championship is growing quickly and it puts up a better show every time, so we’re happy to be more present and I’m happy to share my experience with teammates coming from such different backgrounds”.
Cycling Legend Tom Boonen joins NWES
After building himself a gigantic palmares in road cycling – including a World Championship, four Paris-Roubaix, three Tour Of Flanders and six Tour De France stage wins among many other successes – Tom Boonen left the Pro Cycling bunch and entered auto racing following his passion for the sport. The Belgian legend fell in love with the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series after visiting the Circuit Zolder Finals and testing Braxx Racing’s Euro NASCAR car during the winter.
“I drove in different races last year and I was looking for a competition to combine with my commitments at the national level when at the end of the season I had the chance to test the Euro NASCAR car and I fell in love with it straight away because it provides a fantastic experience. It’s real racing and the car is just amazing. Right after the test I was already talking to Jerry to plan the next step,” said Boonen, who will share the #91 Mustang with Marc Goossens. “We put a lot of effort in this program and I think Braxx Racing is a team with a lot of potential for the future. They are really committed and with Bill Riley onboard I think we can be really competitive. I will have to learn a lot, especially from Marc and I hope we can score important points to be in contention in the second part of the season. I expect to be competitive in Hockenheim and hopefully try to score some podium finish towards the end of the season. I’m really looking forward to the first race in Valencia.”
On joining the official European NASCAR series, Boonen said:
“There aren’t many competitions reaching so many people. Here in Belgium the Finals were huge last year and Brands Hatch is a must see too, as are the other events in the calendar. The Series is also pretty young and now it’s the right time to jump in it.”
Bill Riley joins the team as track engineer
The son of legendary race car designer and builder Bob Riley, Bill Riley is an icon of American motor racing. Having collected success after success in endurance racing with Riley & Scott, he co-founded Riley Technologies with his father in 2001 and worked on many of the winningest race cars of America, including Daytona Prototypes, LMP prototypes and GTs.
Goossens and Riley worked together for the first time in 2000, when the Belgian drove the Cadillac Northstar LMP, but the two also paired for a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2007 and many seasons in American Le Mans Series, Grand-Am and IMSA.
“I’ve been around NASCAR for most of my life on the engineering side and the Euro NASCAR car is quite similar to some of those I’m very familiar with and this was a great opportunity to work with the Braxx Racing team and with Marc Goossens again. I’m looking forward to be at new tracks in Europe and to do enjoy some close racing,” said Riley. “I’ll work on setup and procedures to bring the best possible car to the track each time. A good friend of mine, Andy Jaenen, is a spotter in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series and by staying in touch with him I followed the series and watched what’s going on over there. I don’t set too many goals for this season, the main one is to run properly and run up front. We’ll work hard to do it and we’ll see where we end up. I’m really looking forward to being involved in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series and can’t wait for it to start.”
Pedro Bonnet from Rallycross and GT Racing to Euro NASCAR
As a former rallycross driver, Pedro Bonnet is definitely used to sliding cars around and he found in the Euro NASCAR car the perfect fit for his driving style. The winner of the 2013 BMW Clubsport Benelux Trophy is poised to put himself to test in the ELITE 2 Division in what will be his first NASCAR season after competing in GT racing in 2017.
“We had a great test in November with Braxx Racing and I found in the team a welcoming family with a great plan for the future. They want to set the bar higher and it was the most logic choice to join them for 2018,” said Bonnet, who won two times the BMW Clubman category in the 24 Hours of Zolder. “I know Marc Goossens thanks to my experiences in GT racing and he’s one of the best drivers and coaches around. For me it will be very important to learn as much as I can in this first season. As a race driver, for sure you want to bring home trophies trophies, but the competition is extremely tough and there’s a lot to learn, there are tracks I have never raced on before. We’ll aim at earning some top-10s in the first part of the season and be contenders in the playoffs. I’m really happy to join the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series and I can’t wait for the first race of the season in Valencia.”
The first round of the 2018 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season will take place at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain on April 14-15.