(Words and photos by Dennis Vos) – As NASCAR is expanding it’s wings across the globe developing different series, we stumbled on a tiny speck of Dutch soil where we can find a genuine NASCAR oval race. Raceway Venray is one of two ovals competing in Whelen Euro Series.
The series were created in 2008 under the name “Racecar Euro-Series” and held it’s first race in 2009 in France. It received it’s official FIA License at the end of 2010 while in the early days of 2012 an agreement was made between NASCAR to sanction the series as part of the NASCAR circuit. at the start of the 2013 season the first race was driven under its new name: “NASCAR Whelen Euro Series”, on the other oval of Tours. Meanwhile the small quarter mile oval at Venray which hosted motocross and F1 Stock-car, wanted to expand but as it was build not following rules and regulations it was forced to close it’s doors in 2007. With some extensive lobbying the new quarter mile circuit opened on the other side of it’s former location in 2009. While the half mile oval was being build, the circuit remained low profile as it was constantly struggling with not exceeding the noise limit. If this would happen, the circuit would be closed permanently. Racing “events” were held between 2011 and 2013 about 4 times each year, eventually in 2013 the circuit obtained a full license and was granted 11 days of limitless noise. This resulted in a track that could host a proper oval racing series and gain popularity as the fastest half mile in Europe. The LMV8 (Late Model V8 Left Handers, which originated from the European Late Model Series in 2013) became a regular and would finally get it’s official NASCAR company in the start of the 2015 season.
The race itself is divided in two classes, Elite 1 and 2. Elite 1 contains gold/silver and bronze drivers, Elite 2 only Silver and Bronze. One major fact is that both classes share the same cars. So damages which are inflicted in Elite 1, can cause problems for the Elite 2 driver and vice versa. for the 2016 season 7 tracks (including Venray) are chosen to host the championships divided in 2 oval races and 5 circuit races. The series are gaining popularity with it’s attendees as it’s a race which is easy accessible. For me it was my first acquaintance with this type of motorsport, but you could see that it needs still a bit of time for us Dutchies to get used to. It’s quite a busy weekend with 5 competitions packed into one event. As F1 and F2 Stock-cars competing with the National Hot Rod on the quarter mile oval in the center, the bigger boys (LMV8 and Euro Series) battle it out on the half mile. The cars are specified to the NASCAR guidelines, but are built specifically for the European tracks. The cars use 450 HP V8 Chevy, 4 speed manual are rear wheel driven and must not go over 1150 kilograms. I do can say that this is already marked in my calendar for next year.