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DATE News (chronologically)
09/30/11
irl
alms
VW dismisses NASCAR, eyeing IndyCar or ALMS?
Countering rumors that the Volkswagen Group might test its mettle in NASCAR, the head of the maker’s motorsports operation said there are no plans — “at the moment” – to go stock car racing, but the German maker does plan to sharply increase its involvement in U.S. racing in the coming years.

A wide range of programs are under study, according to Wolfgang Durheimer, the former Porsche R&D chief who now serves double-duty as the CEO of Bentley and the head of motorsports for the entire VW Group.

“In my strategy role I am evaluating all motorsports activities,” said the executive following a preview of the new Bentley Convertible GTC convertible in Croatia, noting that, “The U.S. offers a variety of interesting race series.”

One that he has turned thumbs down on is NASCAR, though Durheimer didn’t seem to be shutting the door entirely.  But the high cost of that series would take cash that could be better focused on other racing ventures, he said.  There’s VW’s new involvement in WRC, a widely-popular rally championship.

In the States, he pointed to such series as American Le Mans and Grand Am, while dubbing Indy Car “attractive.”  There’s also the classic Pike’s Peak climb – a challenge Audi used last year to show off its autonomous vehicle.

About the only form of racing that seemed to be completely out of the question was drag racing, according to Durheimer.

Getting into motorsports in the U.S. is particularly important because of Volkswagen’s increasing commitment to the American market overall.  With the German maker targeting world domination by the end of the decade, it desperately needs to more than double U.S. sales and Durheimer clearly seems to share the belief in that old adage, “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday.”

The challenge will be to convince the folks in Wolfsburg who control the corporate purse strings.

“I hope I can convince the Volkswagen Group to dedicate the right brand to the right activity,” said Durheimer, hinting that he will take his proposals to top management in the coming months. Detroit Bureau

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