Purist technology, brutal sounds, nail-biting duels on the track and unprecedented fan proximity – this is the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series. Started in the 2009 season, the European offshoot of the legendary American racing series has been officially supported by NASCAR Empire since 2012 and is recognised as its sister series. And so for the third time now, Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg will be the setting for the American Fan Fest from 20 to 22 September, the penultimate racing event of the 2019 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series.
The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series is an El Dorado for racing sport purists. For NASCAR racing cars doing around 245 km/h, you’ll search in vain for electronic driving aids such as traction control or ABS just as much as you will for overtaking gadgets you see in other racing series such as push-to-pass or DRS. US touring cars have always done without sophisticated aerodynamics, which makes it harder to ride the slipstream and thus also to overtake. Instead, there is a 400 HP, 5.7 litre V8 standard engine from Chevrolet and an unsynchronised four-speed transmission. A silhouette of Chevrolet, Toyota or Ford is put over the top and the racing car is complete with everything it needs to enthuse the fans: a great sound, powerful engine performance and an aggressive look.
In the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, it is the driver that counts more than the technology. Professionals up to Gold FIA driver status compete in the ELITE1 category – including the 1997 Formula 1 World Champion and 1995 Indycar Champion, Jacques Villeneuve (48, Canada), or the two-time European Hill Climb Champion and 2013 and 2015 Champion of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, Ander Vilariño (39, Spain), who in 2013 was bestowed the honour of being included in the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte. Ellen Lohr (54) has a special connection to the Hockenheimring. In 1992, this lady from Mönchengladbach, who now lives in Monaco, was the first and to date only woman to win a race at the German Touring Car Championships DTM on the traditional track in Baden. The defending champion of the ELITE1 class is the 27-year-old Israeli Alon Day, who is best known to German motorsport fans from his time in German Formula 3 and the Formula 3 Euro Series. The ELITE2 class, meanwhile, is reserved for drivers with bronze and silver FIA status and is considered a springboard into the top category of the European NASCAR sport.
In terms of racing, the 2019 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series in Hockenheim goes flat out. As the penultimate stop of the year before the grand final in Zolder in Belgium, the American Fan Fest is one of the ‘playoffs’, where double points are awarded for each event. Spectators can look forward to top racing action at the semi-final – and twice at that! Because ELITE1 and ELITE2 are held both on Saturday and on Sunday, one event each day. The cars are driven on the 3.692 kilometre-long IDM circuit route, which leaves out the hairpin bend and turns towards the Mercedes stand about halfway up the long parabolic left arch.
You also get to see motorsport up close and personal. There are very few other racing series where fans can get so close to the drivers and their cars. An autograph plus car talk with a Formula 1 World Champion? No problem! The whole racing weekend is run in ‘American style’, with plenty of music, shows and emotion. Lots of show acts, exhibitions, traders and American food give the event an American feel and provide lots of entertainment next to the racing track. Of course, it wouldn’t be an American Fan Fest without an American car meet. In an exclusive exhibition area, owners can display their cars. The event programme is completed by a free pit walk, autograph hours, kids club with great activities and much more.
The main attraction, however, is the action on the race track with additional attractive support races. In addition to the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, the Renault Clio Cup Central Europe, the STT/SCC/P9-Challenge and probably the FHR 100 Miles Trophy will be starting at the American Fan Fest.
A Friday ticket is available for just 10 euros; a ticket for the whole weekend costs 40 euros. Free admission for children under 14 years of age. All tickets include entry to the paddock and can be booked through the Hockenheim Ring ticket hotline at +49 (0)6205 950 222 or www.hockenheimring.de. Grid-walk tickets to visit the starting grid cost 10 euros per day; however, they are only valid in conjunction with a ticket for the stands. The registration form for the American car meet can be found at: http://www.hockenheimring.de/american-fan-fest-nascar-wes. You can register up until 12 September 2019.