On the way to fetch a visiting friend from London last Sunday, I thought I’d stop in at the American SpeedFest, which took place at Brands Hatch on the 8th and 9th of June.
My first indication of the level of interest in the event came at the highway off-ramp for the track – a three kilometre traffic jam. I displayed my South African-ness and ‘accidentally’ stayed in the right-hand lane until a gap appeared at the last second. Not very British – they’re a lot better at queuing politely. I’ll try harder next time. Still, it took another half hour to get to the circuit (normally 5 minutes).
The American SpeedFest was billed as an All Things Americana Racing Weekend, down to “Elvis” singing the US national anthem, a huge display of Yankee classics, monster trucks crushing cars, hot dogs, cheese burgers and the headline act: four rounds of the official Euro NASCAR Series.
The Euro NASCARs are Chevy 6,0-litre V8 machines, boasting 450 hp (338 kW), big slicks, tubular frame chassis and fibreglass bodywork. They’re a full-fledged entry series to NASCAR USA, with prizes for the front runners including heavily subsidised racing in the main NASCAR series in the USA. Most of their racing is on well-known tracks across Europe including Monza and Le Mans, and an event on a specially built oval track at Tours in France. Given the commercial success of NASCAR in the USA, this series surely warrants consideration for aspiring professional racers.
There must be very little to compare to the harmonic depths of a field of 30 big V8s belting past bumper-to-bumper at full throttle. Unfortunately, the nannies insist on so much noise-muffling that I’ll have to wait until some other time for that experience. The Euro NASCARs sound good, but are sadly quiet.
The most successful aspect of the weekend was really the crowd. The main race featured an open grid walk – anyone and everyone was allowed down onto the starting grid to get close to the cars and drivers. The crowd response was enormous. Take a look at the pics. That on its own was really good to see, coming from the empty stands of Kyalami last time I raced in the southern half of planet speed.
I’m back at Brands Hatch this weekend to practise for our upcoming racing on the Indy Loop there, where we’re centre-stage for the British Mini Festival weekend of 22 and 23 June 2013. Paddock Hill Bend, here we come again!
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