The NASCAR Cup Series Next-Gen machine is going international. Alongside Chevrolet and Rick Hendrick, a NASCAR machine will compete at the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans thanks to a special project called Garage 56.
Garage 56 is a special class designed for “concept cars that test possible future technology for the automotive industry.” The cars have to meet certain safety regulations, but they don’t have to conform to the conventional powertrain and engine options. Each year, that single slot in the garage is reserved for a new car, which in the past has included diesel-powered vehicles and the DeltaWing.
Garage 56 is a class of its own. The vehicles competing in that class are generally more of an exhibitionary nature; they're not competing against, say, Hypercars.
The Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 built by Hendrick Motorsports will be taking to the Circuit de la Sarthe in the small town of Le Mans, France for the 2023 running of the iconic endurance race. Chad Knaus, seven-time NASCAR championship-winning crew chief, will be managing the program as it heads overseas. To put it pretty simply, we’ve got some hard-hitters lined up to take this on.
“ I never dreamed I’d go to Daytona,” Rick Hendrick said during the press conference, “so to represent NASCAR [at Le Mans] is such a unique experience, the epitome of racing. To me, it’s an honor.”
From the 24 Hours of Le Mans website, here’s a little more information about the history of NASCAR at the iconic event:
Two cars from the NASCAR Winston Cup (now NASCAR Sprint Cup Series) came to La Sarthe in 1976 to salute this great time in history. The Dodge Charger of Hershel and Doug McGriff and the Ford Torino of Dick Brooks-Dick Hutcherson-Marcel Mignot revved their massive 7L V8 engines at the 24 Hours circuit. The two cars were forced to retire, but that wasn’t the point: it was about the mutual Franco-American history during the Revolutionary War and the fascination American competitors have always had with the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Having been regulars at the Le Mans Classic for several years now, the Charger and the Torino have not lost their powers of seduction.
It’s going to be fascinating to see stock cars heading back to the Circuit de la Sarthe for the first time in almost five decades.