NASCAR Looking To Build Int’l Presence With Whelen Euro Series

Steve O'Donnell
Steve O'Donnell

NASCAR is "eyeing a strategy" to help build its int'l presence but it has "no immediate plans" to schedule races outside the U.S., according to Lewis Franck of REUTERS.

Citing another made-in-America sports league, the NBA, NASCAR decided to "take a bottom-up approach in the hope of nurturing international drivers who might one day make the leap" to the U.S.

NASCAR Exec VP & Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell said, "The NBA model is a great one. You have a (local league) in a particular country or region but the ultimate goal is to play in the NBA."

Although the NBA has played games overseas, NASCAR does "not intend to export" its premier Sprint Cup series. In the distant past, the mostly oval track racing series had "non-points races for its stars in Australia and Japan."

But those exhibitions "do not fit with current NASCAR plans." O'Donnell said, "It was an idea before its time and we learned from that. Just taking a race to another country does not help build the sport."

As part of the strategy implementation, a relatively new series, called the Whelen Euro Series, "promotes racing on a variety of circuits in six countries," including former Formula 1 venues at Brands Hatch in England and Zolder in Belgium.

As a result, fans too young to have seen the "legendary battles" for the F1 world championship between Austrian Niki Lauda and Briton James Hunt have "been treated to ones between their sons, Mathias Lauda and Freddie Hunt" Reuters

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