NASCAR … on ice! Euro series experiments with a stocker in the snow
Just days before NASCAR’s stateside return to dirt, EuroNASCAR took a full-bodied stocker to the ice. Driven by NASCAR Whelen Euro Series President Jerome Galpin, the 400-horsepower Camaro riding on narrow, studded tires slid around the ice-covered road course in Val Thorens, France. Officially, this is the first time a certified NASCAR race car has driven on an ice track.
The sanctioned outing on March 26, organized by EuroNASCAR founders Team FJ, was a test to see if a future ice race may be feasible. Though the stock car has shown its versatility in exhibitions like the Goodwood Hill Climb and rallycross stages, EuroNASCAR, like its American counterpart, typically runs on paved courses like Brands Hatch, Zolder, or Hockenheim. The chilly outing in the Alps marked the first time studded tires were ever mounted on the car.
“That was super fun! To be honest we didn’t expect this first test on ice to go so well,” said Galpin. “The EuroNASCAR car has a great balance, so it is very easy to swing around on the ice.” The 2700-pound chunk of rolling steel and fiberglass was not only fun to drive, it was quick, too. According to the team, the stock car posted faster times than the purpose-built rear-wheel-drive racers that annually compete on the French track.
Positioned at (7200 feet above sea level), the Val Thorens ice track is Europe’s highest-elevation race course. While the permanent track frequently hosts driving schools for vacationing skiers, that day in late March was marked by a drifting race car, open exhaust reverberating through the French Alps.
Ice racing is incredibly popular in Europe and throughout the northern Midwest. (Looking at you, Minnesota.) Could this romp in the snow lead to a potential points-paying date for EuroNASCAR? “This test will definitely open up new horizons and spark new ideas for the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series,” said Galpin. “We have to see what’s the next step but for sure this was a very special day.”
Alpine French resort, clouds of snow, with the blur of a 400-horsepower stocker roaring through the mountains? Special, indeed.