Historic Hockenheimring road course will host NASCAR Whelen Euro Series stock cars for first time in 2017.
Since its inception as the Racecar Euro-Series and later to the NASCAR Whelen Euro-Series, NASCAR’s only European-based stock car division has grown every year since the series began in 2009.
One clear sign of the growth of the series is the recent announcement that the series will make its first visit to a road course in Germany competing at Hockenheimring in 2017. This will also be the first time the track – built in 1932 – will host NASCAR stock cars.
“Hockenheimring is one of the greatest tracks in Europe and we are very excited about bringing our series to the race fans in Germany next year,” said NASCAR Whelen Euro Series President Jerome Galpin. “We’ve been working with the Hockenheim Auto Club to get this event scheduled and we couldn’t be happier about the opportunity to bring NASCAR-style racing to this facility.”
The series competes on short tracks and road courses and it will use the 15-turn 2.842 mile (4.574 km) course originally created in 2002 for the inaugural NASCAR event slated for next year in early July.
While the facility holds over 100,000 fans for major events, Galpin still expects a good turnout for his event.
“German race fans are used to great events being held at Hockenheimring and we expect our drivers to put on a great show for the fans,” said Galpin. “We have seen our race crowds grow every season at tracks we visit and we know it takes time to educate the fans when something new comes to race, but we expect a good crowd at our first race.”
Galpin realizes that Formula 1 racing is still number one in Europe and the facility still hosts the German Grand Prix on the Hockenheimring 17-turn course which is 4.574 miles (2.842 km), but adds that fans are enjoying his stock car division.
“The track is a perfect fit for where we want to bring our series each year to the fans,” he said. “It’s located in a good area for our fans and drivers and it fits the type of facility we want to feature our close competition and competitive drivers.”
Officials at the Baden-Württemberg, Germany facility are equally happy to host the NASCAR event.
"After having almost every class of motorsport in Hockenheim during the last 85 years we can now say we are proud that NASCAR Europe will fill one of the last empty spots," said Georg Seiler, the CEO of Hockenheimring.
The series competed at other well-known road courses throughout Europe including Brands Hatch in England, Valencia in Spain, Circuit Zolder in Belgium and Adria Raceway in Italy. The series also joins in American counterparts by racing on ovals at Raceway Venray and Tours Speedway in France.
The growth and geographic layout of the series is something Galpin never could have predicted just a few short years ago.
“We’ve grown even more than we ever dreamed it would in such a short time with competitor and fans alike really enjoying our series here in Europe,” Galpin said. “I feel we’ve already broken in to the top-10 in terms of popularity in Europe. We’re thankful of the fans and competitors.”
The complete 2017 schedule for the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series has yet to be released; however, Galpin expects the series to remain with six event weekends as in 2016.
“We plan on keeping our schedule size the same with six event weekends,” Galpin added. “We might add some non-points special events next year but that’s yet to be determined.”
The NASCAR Euro Series usually holds doubleheader races for both its Elite 1 and Elite 2 divisions at each location on the event schedule.
This year Anthony Kumpen won his second NASCAR Whelen Euro Series championship in the season finale at Zolder in his home country edging Frederic Gabillon by just eleven points. Four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon was on hand as grand marshal for the event and congratulated Kumpen on his title.