Alex’s dream of getting behind the wheel of a NASCAR finally came true today when he completed a test with Euro NASCAR at the Fontenay-le-Comte circuit in France.
Alex joined twelve other drivers from around the world as part of Euro NASCAR’s new Driver Recruitment Program to find the next generation of future NASCAR stars. Fully supported by NASCAR in the USA, the program has been launched to identify future drivers who with direct support from NASCAR, could be future champions.
Also attending the test was 2000 NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series champion Bobby Labonte who was on hand to share his NASCAR experience and offer advice and support to the drivers.
Each driver completed three runs in a latest specification Euro NASCAR and after each run exchanged feedback with the engineers and discussed the car with Bobby and Frederic Gabillon, a current Euro NASCAR series driver.
“I did not know what to expect in my first drive of a NASCAR”, commented Alex. “Having not driven a rear wheel drive car for some time and watching the cars on TV, I thought it would be difficult to get good traction and slow the car down. I was really surprised with how controllable the car was and the amount of traction and braking available. It is a different technique to the front wheel drive cars I am used to but, with the help of Bobby and Frederic I quickly adapted my style to suit the car.”
The test kicked off at a very cold Fontenay-le-Comte circuit which was covered by a heavy overnight ground frost. Fortunately the early morning sun quickly warmed up the circuit and Alex was able to get his first drive of a NASCAR.
“The first session was all about getting a feel of the car and learning the track. Unlike the Clio I usually drive I was able after a couple of laps to get enough heat into the slick tyres to start to explore further the car’s abilities”, said Alex.
With the first run under his belt Alex was able to start to understand the car and discuss how to adapt his driving to push the car further. “The car is like a big go-kart where you have to be either balancing it on the brakes or the throttle. The four speed manual transmission requires a different technique to modern paddle changes but after a couple of laps I was able to change gears without the clutch,” remarked Alex.
The remaining runs were all about exploring the car’s limits and with each run Alex set faster and faster times and, as he pulled off at the end of the final run nobody would have known this was his first time in a stock car.
The NASCAR program now heads to Italy to run another event to assess a second group of drivers before identifying the drivers who will be part of the championship for 2018.
For Alex the NASCAR bug has just moved up another gear and hopefully, four years after he lined up for his first car race at Brands Hatch he could be back in 2018 to sit on the grid in a Euro NASCAR as part of the 2018 season.
Watch this space…