American Fan Fest – 2019 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series // Ellen Lohr revisits the site of her greatest triumph

The countdown is on for the penultimate 2019 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series race weekend (20th until 22nd Sept.) at the Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg. The “American Fan Fest” is a real treat for motorsport purists who don’t mind a bit of show. The 400 hp V8 racing cars promise exclusive motorsport action, gripping wheel-to-wheel duels as well as visual and acoustic delights. And the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series “playoffs” starting in Hockenheim will really get down to business, as double points will be awarded in the battle for the championship in both the ELITE1 and ELITE2 categories.

One of those who succumbed to the fascination of NASCAR is Ellen Lohr – and that is precisely why Germany’s most successful female racing driver of all time decided to make another comeback for the 2019 season at the tender age of 54. “I was already familiar with the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series because it used to be part of the supporting programme for a Truck Grand Prix,” says the driver from Mönchengladbach who now lives in Monaco. “Last year I watched the NWES final in Zolder, and when I saw 30 of these V8 rockets thundering toward the first corner, I was hooked. I knew it straight away: “I really want to do this!”

No sooner said than done. Backed up by the Dexwet DF1 Racing team, the only woman ever to win a DTM race got behind the wheel of a NASCAR race car for the first time and quickly realised that this called for a complete rethink: “The cars are equipped with extremely old-fashioned technology, not comparable with a modern DTM or GT3 car. Unsynchronised four-speed transmission, no ABS, no traction control, wide tyres, good power, real manual work – driving these cars is a blast. And this in a field of at least 30 vehicles in both categories. When the ruck of cars race toward the first corner, all hell breaks loose. A little contact is common practice in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series. But that’s the beauty of it: even if a few parts fly off, the car can still go on. And last but not least, damages put much less strain on the team’s budget.”

Despite her 31 years of experience in professional motorsports, Lohr’s first NWES season has been and still is mainly a learning experience. And it was clear to her that even an experienced ex-DTM pilot would not simply get behind the wheel of a NASCAR race car and immediately head the pack: “The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series is at a very high level; there are really good drivers and really good teams. I still have a lot to learn. For us older drivers, there’s the Challenger Series; I’m doing quite well with my current third-placed standing. We’ll see if I can go one better in Hockenheim.

When it comes to Hockenheim, connoisseurs will remember 24 May 1992, when the then 27-year-old Mercedes works driver Ellen Lohr won a thrilling duel against 1982 Formula 1 World Champion, Keke Rosberg, becoming the first and to this day only woman to win a DTM race. “Hockenheim will always play a very special role in my motorsport life,” says Ellen with a smile. “Even though I have never driven on the new Grand Prix circuit, these beautiful memories will always be with me. And to the fans I can only say: If you enjoyed the old DTM and the exciting duels back then, you’ll adore the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series!”

Plenty of action on and off the racetrack

Especially since the American Fan Fest offers a first-class supporting programme. In addition to the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, the Renault Clio Cup Central Europe, the Special Touring Car Trophy (STT) and the FHR 100 Miles Trophy will provide plenty of action on the Hockenheimring’s 3.6-kilometre “IDM track variant” (the cars turn right half-way down the long parabolic left curve and take a shortcut to the east grandstand).

Motorvision TV brings virtual racing to the American Fan Fest for the first time: All visitors can test their driving skills at a SimRacing station in the congress pavilion or let themselves be inspired by professionals in the demo competition.  The whole racing weekend is run in ‘American style’, with plenty of music, shows, an American car meet and loads of American vibe. Free pit walks, autograph hours, kids club with great activities and much more reflect the philosophy of the series’ founders led by the Frenchman Jérôme Galpin: racing highlights up close and personal.

A Friday ticket is available for just 10 euros, while 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 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.

📸 Copyright: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series

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