In recent years, NASCAR-sanctioned stock car racing series have ventured out to new unique event venues. The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum hosted the Busch Light Clash season-opening exhibition race on a quarter-mile bullring inside the legendary stadium in February and is scheduled to do so again next February. Also, in 2023, the Cup Series is slated to run a points-paying round on a street circuit in Chicago. Next week, NASCAR’s European-based championship is taking its drivers onto an entirely new racing surface for stock car racing: Ice.
The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series revealed its 2023 schedule today. Two non-championship races will bookend the season’s six points-paying rounds. An all-star race will be held at Automotodrom Grobnik in Croatia on a yet-to-be-determined date. The other non-points race will be the season opener at the start of March in Rovaniemi, Finland. However, there isn’t a race track in Rovaniemi.
The event in Rovaniemi will take place atop a frozen lake. There has never been a NASCAR-sanctioned race on ice. Rovaniemi annually hosts the Arctic Lapland Rally. The iconic 56-year-old event was held twice in 2021. The first was the traditional rally, and the second was a replacement World Rally Championship round to compensate for Rally Sweden’s cancellation. That was the only time the Arctic Rally was a WRC round. Though, Lapland attracts the best drivers in the country. Six World Rally Champions have won the event. F1 drivers Mika Häkkinen, Kimi Räikkönen, and Valtteri Bottas have competed in the Arctic Rally.
The NASCAR Euro Series prepared for this event with an ice test earlier this year in Val Thorens, France. The series trialed the specially-designed studded tires that will see action in Finland. Jerome Galpin, the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series President and CEO, was the driver at the wheel during the test. Afterward, he said:
“That was super fun! To be honest, we didn’t expect this first test on ice to go so well. The EuroNASCAR car has a great balance, so it is very easy to swing around on the ice. It is probably among the most versatile race cars ever built, able to race on every track and every surface, in every condition. The level of performance is also pretty impressive: with only one day of testing, we were able to set one of the fastest times around the track for a rear-wheel drive car.”
I honestly can’t wait to see stock cars beating and banging on ice next March! The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series visits Rovaniemi, Finland on March 4-5, 2023. And yes, the series streams its races live on YouTube.