NASCAR Whelen Euro Series

The top-10 moments of the 2019 EuroNASCAR season

Michael Großgarten

The 2019 EuroNASCAR season delivered plenty of thrilling and exciting highlights – I collected my personal top-10 moments of the 2019 championship

Dear NWES fans,

the 2019 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series (NWES) season was one of the most thrilling championships in the series’ history. The new tyres, the strong drivers and the large grid delivered us many exciting moments and an unforgettable season. That’s why I collected my personal top-10 of 2019.

Credits: Frank Reipen

P10: The guests

In the 2019 season, there were many famous guests who drove the V8 machines. For the German fans, the start by Daniel Keilwitz at Hockenheim for Mishumotors was surely the most important one. Keilwitz is a true GT Master legend in Germany and one of the most successful race drivers.

During the Festival Of Speed in Goodwood, two big NASCAR names took over the wheel of the European NASCAR cars: David and Todd Gilliland. There were two other great names from American NASCAR racing that fought for points in the 2019 NWES season: Bobby Labonte and Jennifer Jo Cobb – both as part-time drivers.

Ruben Garcia Jr. won the Mexican NASCAR championship and came to Europe for the NWES season opener in Valencia. It was the first leg of the drivers exchange program between Europe and Mexico that brought NWES champion Loris Hezemans to Mexico in December. Other mentionable guests drivers were Michaela Dorcikova, Marco Santamaria, Ioannis Smyrlis and Barry Maessen.

Credits: Michael Großgarten

P9: Snider dances in the rain

NWES, rain and an oval, this is a combination that the NWES fans has seen before in EuroNASCAR. In 2014, Mathias Lauda won the race in his DF1 Racing car on the damp Tours Speedway in France. In 2019, American NASCAR driver Myatt Snider raised the ladder.

The Tours Speedway is only 600 meters long and has a banking up to nine degrees. The Raceway Venray is a way bigger challenge with a length of half a mile (880 meters) and a banking up to 25 degrees. It’s really difficult to race a car on that track when the surface is damp.

In Free Practice of the EuroNASCAR 2 championship it started to rain and many drivers stopped their cars in the pits. Snider wasn’t among them! He turned lap after lap and put some impressive lap times on the leaderboard despite the rain – a real highlight!

Credits: NWES / Stephane Azemard

P8: Castro versus Snider

The EuroNASCAR 2 championship has never been so close like in 2019 and there have never been so many competitive rookies. During the season opener in Valencia there was a great battle between Snider and Andre Castro in the closing laps of the race. Castro was leading the pack in the last lap but then drama struck.

Snider put all he had in the last corner of the race but then both drivers made contact and spun. This paved the way for rookie Giorgio Maggi to grab his first ever NWES win in his first ever EuroNASCAR race. The battle between Snider and Castro, both from the USA, will be kept in memory for a long time for sure.

Credits: NWES / Stephane Azemard

P7: Vilarino and his magic comeback

The comeback of three-time NWES champion Ander Vilarino broke the news in Spain before the start of the 2019 season. With his new team Racing Engineering, the Spaniard set a benchmark right at the beginning of the season.

On his hometrack, the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain, Vilarino impressed with a double win in the EuroNASCAR PRO championship. It seems like Vilarino had found his old strength right in the first races but the team had to deal with several problems during the season. That’s why the winning streak ended right after the season opener.

Credits: Michael Großgarten

P6: Ghirelli masters the oval

Oval racing is a special discipline and it takes a lot of experience to be successful on oval track. Snider had the best foundation in the 2019 season to win the oval race due to his learning process in America. That’s why he was the favorite for the Venray race. But the winner was from Italy.

Vittorio Ghirelli beat his competitors on the short track and won the first ever oval race in his career. Until the Zolder finals, Ghirelli remained a title contender but he was not able to get on top of the standings.

The oval win in Venray was something very special for the Italian because it was a race without any caution and Ghirelli had to push to the limit in all of the 70 laps.

Credits: NWES / Stephane Azemard

P5: Jacques Villeneuve shakes up the NWES

Jacques Villeneuve created an earthquake in the NWES world as many motorsport fans visited the races only to see the former Formula 1 champion and Indy 500 race winner again. The Canadian early found a way to be successful in the EuroNASCAR championship.

His best race weekend was the NASCAR GP Italy at the Autodromo di Franciacorta. Villeneuve ended up on the podium in both races. At Venray he scored his third top-3 finish and grabbed his first and only pole position in his first season. At Zolder he started first into the second race due to the fastest lap time in the first race.

In 2020, Villeneuve will team up with Patrick Lemarie to bring FEED Racing to the NWES grid. The motorsport legend will not only lead the team but also race in the series by himself.

Credits: Michael Großgarten

P4: Maggi wins after engine breakdown

How long does it take for a team to change a destroyed engine? While Hendriks Motorsport was working on the car, somebody should have noted the time, because what the team did in less than two hours could have been a new record. The team changed the engine between the EuroNASCAR PRO and EuroNASCAR 2 race!

What happened before? Hezemans was leading his race but had to retire after the engine blew up. Maggi, who was first in the championship, feared to miss his race, but the engineers did a great job to send the Swiss to the grid right in time.

That was not the end of the story: Maggi started from pole and was first under the checkered flag. The team did not only changed the engine, it delivered Maggi a winning car – great performance!

Credits: Michael Großgarten

P3: The comeback of the year

At every race track you hear drivers complaining about how hard it is to overtake. Is it the same in Brands Hatch? Thanks to Lasse Soerensen, no driver can ever complain again at the track in Great Britain. The Dane impressed with the most exciting comeback in a race in the 2019 season.

After some technical issues in qualifying, the DF1 Racing driver had to start from the last position – P27 – into the first race. After 30 laps of thrilling NWES racing, the spectators could not believe what they have seen. Soerensen won the race but how was that possible?

Right at the start, the gian Dane overtook several competitors. Afterwards he took advantage of numerous cautions to carve his way up in the standings. In the very last lap he attacked Castro with a hard maneuver to win the race. What a great performance!

Credits: NWES

P2: Loris Hezemans is the new champion

Loris Hezemans, son of motorsport legend Toine Hezemans, entered the championship in 2018 and the Dutchman was fast right from the beginning. In 2018 he was not able to keep up with the front runners as he lacked consistency and patience. The title was not in reach but he won the Junior trophy.

Despite a difficult start into the 2019 season, Hezemans was always one of the fastest drivers on the grid. His breakthrough came at Most, where the race driver from the Netherlands scored his first season win. Afterwards he won three more races and the title in Zolder. The 22-year-old Dutchman is the youngest NWES champion in the series’ history.

Credits: Michael Großgarten

P1: Inches decide the EuroNASCAR 2 championship

Maggi and Soerensen fought an exciting battle throughout the whole EuroNASCAR 2 season. The championship was decided just a few meters before the finish line! It was Soerensen who won the last race of the season and crowned himself champion of the second NWES division.

But it was not an easy drive for the Dane: He took over the point standings just one day before the Final and that’s why the driver was crowned champion who crossed the finish line first on Sunday. Maggi tried everything to overtake Soerensen in the very last lap of the race, but the Dane fended off all attacks by the Swiss. He won the race and the championship.

It was an impressive performance because Soerensen had missed the season opener in Valencia. He still managed to take over the points lead and win the EuroNASCAR 2 trophy. The Dane also grabbed the Rookie Trophy, while DF1 Racing celebrated the first ever championship win in its history.

I hope you enjoyed my top-10 moments of the 2019 NWES season. The Leadlap team wishes you and your family a happy new year!

Sincerely

André Wiegold