From karting to EuroNASCAR: A portrait of Julian Vanheelen from Austria
Julian Vanheelen has made it from karting and the simulator to the EuroNASCAR Club Challenge – The 17-year-old also goes to school
Everyone has to start small at some point. This is just as true in motorsport as it is in football. Accordingly, Julian Vanheelen first proved himself in karting and then raced touring cars in various series before landing in EuroNASCAR. There he competes in the Club Challenge – the regularity test – for Not Only Motorsport.
Like many other young talented drivers, the 17-year-old is part of a generation of athletes who have long since moved beyond racing on real tracks. “I came from a simulator background and played quite a bit of Assetto Corsa and rFactor 2,” Vanheelen tells ‘Leadlap.net’.
At his home in St. Pölten, the Not-Only Motorsport driver has a racing seat with steering wheel, pedals and gear shift for this purpose. Over the years, Vanheelen has driven a variety of cars this way. Among them were EuroNASCAR cars to prepare for the Club Challenge events.
For example, he simulated races with 40 other drivers at Vallelunga. The reason: Like any race driver, the 17-year-old loves to compete with other drivers. In Club Challenge, the youngster now wants to get used to the EuroNASCAR cars before he enters the competitive stage.
But why does he like racing so much? “The appeal for me is simply that it makes me feel pretty free,” Vanheelen says. It’s a similar feeling to when he’s on an airplane, he says. In addition, he likes the feeling when the adrenaline shoots through the body and a driver “becomes more or less fearless and then does braking maneuvers as well, like braking at the last second and not being afraid that he might crash into the barrier.”
In general, the 17-year-old likes to push himself beyond his limit, even in other sports, such as running. At the same time, he always takes a critical look at his own performance and sees where he can still improve.
However, he ended up in EuroNASCAR more by chance than anything else. While karting, he met his manager Robert Wagner, who also represents Alina Loibnegger. “That’s why I then got a good way into EuroNASCAR and by already knowing EuroNASCAR, because I also really like and follow NASCAR in America, I thought to myself that this is a cool option and that I want to go this way,” says Vanheelen, who is also very interested in US muscle cars.
In addition to the sound of the EuroNASCAR cars, the 17-year-old rookie driver also likes the atmosphere in the series: “You’re welcomed right away. It’s not like you go there and get mocked right away. You’re not the rookie there who doesn’t belong there because of that.”
But Vanheelen is not only taking care of cars on the track or in the simulator: in Mödling, he attends the Higher Technical School for Automotive Engineering. “There I learn theory about cars, but also practically in the workshop, how to paint a car, do the service, disassemble engines and so on,” explains the 17-year-old. This is knowledge that can also benefit him on the track.