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NASCAR mulling races in Europe

NEWS STORY
19/01/2013

Here at Pitpass we rarely cover the American stock car racing series NASCAR but some recent news which has come our way is worth reporting as it is of direct relevance to several European racing championships. In a nutshell, NASCAR is considering hosting exhibition races in Europe to boost the profile of stock cars and if this happens it could ultimately present a threat to home-grown racing series.

Series such as the British Touring Car Championship could have reason to watch out for NASCAR as it is a motorsport giant. Each of its 36 races is watched by an average of 100,000 spectators and 8.6m viewers on television. A single race in its flagship Sprint Cup championship can generate up to £130m for the local economy which is comparable to the amount made by a Formula One Grand Prix. However, despite its success in the US, NASCAR is relatively unknown in Europe. George Silbermann, NASCAR's vice president of regional and touring series, wants to change that.

In an interview with Pitpass' business editor Christian Sylt, Silbermann, says that "NASCAR would consider future exhibition race opportunities in Europe as part of a broader strategy of promoting stock car racing in a region and supporting existing efforts like our Euro Racecar NASCAR Touring Series, which is about to embark on its second season."

NASCAR's involvement with Euro Racecar explains its desire to rev up European interest in stock car racing. The series was created in 2009 by the French motorsport management firm Team FJ Group. It uses NASCAR-inspired cars which have 400bhp V8 engines and are built by Chevrolet, Dodge and Ford. They are adapted specifically for European circuits and race in Britain, France, Italy and Spain with the series headlined by events at Brands Hatch, Le Mans and Monza. It caught NASCAR's eye and early last year Euro Racecar was designated one of its official touring series.

"NASCAR's philosophy has evolved over the years, from the NASCAR exhibition race model of the 1990's - when we ran several races in Japan - to the more recent model we implemented beginning with Mexico," says Silbermann.

"The prime difference being that the NASCAR national series races staged in Mexico City nearly a decade ago were part of a broad strategy of promoting stock car racing in that country. The results are clear today, with a healthy NASCAR Toyota Mexico Series having just completed its seventh season under the NASCAR banner. The series boasts close racing, strong fields, record crowds, and the fifth new oval circuit in the country having just been completed in Chihuahua."

Silbermann says that exhibition races in Europe would be hosted "along similar lines" though he does not say where they might take place. Given NASCAR's success in the US, circuits would presumably queue up at its doorstep.

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