Next stop Italy: This is the Autodromo di Vallelunga
The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series makes its third stop in its history at the Autodromo di Vallelunga in Italy – The track near Rome was once an oval
Italy’s Autodromo di Vallelunga will be the third stop for the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series (NWES), hosting its fifth and sixth rounds on July 9-10, 2022. The four-kilometer track has been on the calendar since the 2020 season and was already allowed to host the finale last year.
The two EuroNASCAR PRO rounds in 2021 are particularly remembered for former Formula 1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve’s first time in more than ten years that he not only took one but two victories in motor racing.
The track has been rebuilt many times in the past, but has similar roots to NASCAR in the US, as the course opened in 1951 as a 1.7-kilometer sand oval – here for horse races but also for cars and bikes. The dirt track was modified for the first time in 1957 to include an infield segment and to reduce the size of the original oval – all created by Piero Taruffi.
This infield is still an integral part of the track and today consists of the Semaforo, Tornantino and Esse corners. In 1963 the track was massively extended: another curve was built consisting of the Curva Grande, Cimini 1 and Cimini 2, which then led into the infield and the track through a curved hairpin called Roma back to the start-finish straight. The track was already 3.2 kilometers long at this point, and the club layout consisting of oval and infield still existed, of course.
In 2005 there was another change in the layout, after the 90 degree right turn Cimini 2 there is now a left turn which leads to another straight and ends in the hairpin Campagnano, which is followed by the left turn Soratte, which leads back to Trincea and the original infield. The track has been driven clockwise since 1971 and with its 15 turns offers more than enough overtaking opportunities for exciting races.
The lap starts on the start-finish straight and leads the field into the Curva Grande, which leads into two 90 degree right turns Cimini 1 and Cimini 2. These are the first hard braking zones of the circuit. Out of Cimini 2, the field takes a left turn onto a longer straight towards the Campagnano hairpin, which leads into the tighter left turn Soratte and heads into another turn called Trincea.
There the tight infield begins and the Semaforo hairpin is followed by another extremely tight hairpin called Tornantino, which ends in the Esses combination of the track. Finally, a wide hairpin called Roma sends the field back to the start-finish line.
The track made its NASCAR debut after a successor to the Franciacorta track was sought. The first two ever EuroNASCAR PRO races were won by Loris Hezemans and Gianmarco Ercoli, who will be back in 2022. In the EuroNASCAR 2 championship, Tobias Dauenhauer won both races. In 2021, Villeneuve secured two wins in EuroNASCAR PRO, while Martin Doubek and Dauenhauer each won an EuroNASCAR 2 race in the title fight.
Currently, the track is used by WTCR and ETCR, as well as many other series, as a test track. In the past, the European Le Mans, the International GT Open, the Superleague Formula and the World SBK raced at Vallelunga. The lap record is held by Andy Soucek, who set a 1:23.475 in a Panoz DP09 in 2008, while the fastest qualifying time in EuroNASCAR is held by Alon Day with a 1:40.041.