When you think of NASCAR racing, it’s all US-American: The smell of oil and fuel, a thrilling competition in equal conditions.
The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series capture a European audience with these emotions and thrills: In 7 countries and race weekends, throughout 26 races. The challenge though, are the European tracks. They are a mix of various tracks famous from other motorsport events and even include a classic NASCAR oval. Competing in Europe demands a whole different set of abilities from driver and machine alike.
The racetrack named after the former Formula 1 driver Piero Taruffi is located approximately 30 kilometers North of Rome and was built in 1951. After several expansions the track today is 4,085 meters long and is driven clockwise. The drivers have to pass ten bends (three on the left and seven on the right) on a lane width of 11 meters before the final sprint on the finishing straight with a lane width of 14 meters. It is a technically demanding track which is why it is used as a test track by many Formula 1 Teams such as Ferrari, Williams as well as formerly Toyota. The track is also used as a venue for many motorsport races. For example, the World Superbikes Championship was held there in 2007 and 2008.
6 right and 4 left turns—including 3 chicanes—must be conquered in Zolder, southeast of Antwerp. Like many other European courses, it looks back on a long and eventful history including Formula 1 races in the 70s and 80s. The course on 4.011 km asphalt is driven clockwise and is considered demanding with its hill jumps and blind bends. While the first section is smooth to drive, the second section is tough and calls for calculated braking maneuvers by the talented NASCAR drivers.
Located in one of the most attractive touristic areas of the charming Adriatic coast of Croatia, Automotodrom Grobnik hosted Round 5 and 6 of the 2020 NWES season. The 4.168 Km road course offer drivers and teams a whole new challenge with its sweeping 18-turn layout and its many elevation changes. Grobnik was the 17th different track to host a NASCAR GP in Europe, while Croatia was the 9th different country to welcome a NWES event. Inaugurated in 1978, the track hosted MotoGP races until 1990 and with the most recent updates, plays a key role in the touristic development of the Rijeka area.
The Circuit Ricardo Tormo was first opened in 1999 and is therefore comparably young. Climate-wise it is fairly mild due to its location close to the eastern coast of Spain.
In Valencia, Euro NASCAR drivers take the course counter-clockwise on a length of 4.005 km, facing 9 left and 5 right turns along with a straight run that is the longest straightway in the Euro NASCAR season. Particularly the curve after a chicane, right before the finish line, takes some skill. All-in-all, a dynamic and exciting track.
This route has a long tradition going back to the 1940s and is about 30 km southeast of London. It may look inconspicuous at first—but it packs its own punch: The NASCAR track in the UK is 1,929 km long and has 4 right bends and 2 left bends clockwise considered demanding by the NASCAR drivers, as they can be underestimated due to the strong variation in cornering speeds.
The track also known as Circuit de Peel is considered to be the fastest oval circuit in Europe. The only 800 m long circuit with its 4 high-banked turns corresponds to a classic ½ mile oval NASCAR drivers are familiar with. It is typically driven counterclockwise and offers a thrilling show made of high speeds and side-by-side action in classic NASCAR fashion.
The traditional and legendary track guarantees a dynamic race on 3,692 km. On the fast sections with exciting overtaking opportunities, every chance has to be exploited, and that plays a large part in making Hockenheim one of the fastest tracks in the calendar. For the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, Hockenheimring plays host to the semifinal for the second time. This race plays a major role in the battle for the title—while it’s not possible to win the title by placing first in the semifinals, history has already proven that it’s possible to lose the chance for the title. Hosting the 2020 NWES Finals at the legendary Hockenheimring Germany will become the third country to host the EuroNASCAR Finals after France and Belgium.
With a combination of 12 right-hand and 9 left-hand bends, the 4.212 km long course is curvy and challenging. It is driven clockwise and perfect for NASCAR races: The comparatively straight and thus fast first section of 792 m length is followed by a real roller coaster ride, which requires solid driving skills.
The General Tire branded car (see image) is a fine example of how spectacular a Euro NASCAR car can look in race trim—though General Tire does not intend to put it on the start grid just yet. It proudly symbolizes the cooperation between General Tire and NASCAR Whelen Euro Series and will be seen regularly at exhibitions and promotional events such as the “Autosport International”. Of course, cars cannot race without an approved number, and the General Tire car was assigned the number 61 as a conscious choice; with clever styling, the number 61 is visually similar to the brand initials “GT”.
The tyres were specifically engineered in Plymouth, Indiana, with the demanding NASCAR conditions in mind. Though these differ in Europe, as the European tracks are mostly circuits instead of classic ovals: Tyres must be able to endure through curves of various angles while also suiting a variety of different asphalt tracks. Even the weather conditions of the various countries must be taken into account to always keep the NASCAR cars safe on the track.
All alongside the well-known NASCAR racing conditions, such as driving distances and time, even vehicle weight and speed must be considered.
Based on the experiences collected throughout the first race series in 2019 a new evolution of the General Tire’s slick and rain tires was developed for the 2020 NWES season. Since the NWES regulations limit the allowed amount of tires per driver to 20 due to strict cost control and efficiency requirements, the adjustments were not only focusing on performance but also on durability.
Tyre burn-outs, the squealing of wheels on asphalt, dark tracks in each curve: The raw aesthetic born in Daytona, where NASCAR has its home. And it’s truly impressive what the tyres at a NASCAR race have to deliver.
So why not face that challenge with an official partner, who equally embodies American tradition—while aiming for a high performance and reliability?
With General Tire, the Euro NASCAR has entered a six-year cooperation to meet those requirements. Admittedly, six years for a sponsoring cooperation is a most unusual timespan in motorsports. But it’s most telling in terms of the trust Euro NASCAR places in General Tire. In return, the brand has developed a race tire that promises to meet the high expectations of the 30 Euro NASCAR teams.
The specifically developed “NWES GT” tyres have proven their strengths in the first season. In classic NASCAR-fashion, each vehicle has the same set of slick and wet-versions of the tyre in a size of 330/770 R 15.
After all: Anywhere is possible. From the Euro NASCAR race track to the winding roads of Europe.