Hendrick Motorsports are going to race a NASCAR at Le Mans
American motorsport team Hendrick Motorsports is pursuing an entry to the 2023 Le Mans 24 Hours in a modified NASCAR. That’s right: NASCAR at Le Mans.
The team made the announcement in a press conference ahead of the 12 Hours of Sebring, with representatives from NASCAR, Chevrolet, Goodyear, the ACO and IMSA in attendance.
The plan is for Hendrick Motorsports to take one of its Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Next Gen stock cars, of the kind that competes in the NASCAR Cup Series, to Le Mans. It would race under the ‘Garage 56’ banner, a space on the entry list reserved for experimental machines that don’t follow the normal race regulations. Cast your mind back to 2012 and you might remember the first Garage 56 car, the DeltaWing. The car’s exact specification, and the driver line-up, will be announced at a later date.
This would not be the first time a NASCAR has competed at Le Mans. In 1976, NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. and Le Mans organisers agreed to create a new ‘Grand International’ class. As a result, there were two stock-car entries that year, a Dodge Charger owned and driven by NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee Hershel McGriff along with his son Doug, and a Junie Donlavey-prepared Ford Torino for drivers Richard Brooks, Dick Hutcherson and Marcel Mignon. Both cars had to be modified to make right-hand turns, and were fitted with windscreen wipers and lights. Sadly neither finished, the former retiring after two laps and the latter after 104, or 11 hours.
From left to right: NASCAR President Steve Phelps, IMSA and NASCAR CEO Jim France, Rick Hendrick, Jim Campbell of Chevrolet, Stu Grant of Goodyear, ACO President Pierre Fillon, and IMSA President John Doonan.
Speaking of the plan, team owner Rich Hendrick said: “Participating in one of the truly iconic events in auto racing and representing NASCAR and Chevrolet on the world stage is a privilege.
“Even though Garage 56 is a ‘class of one,’ we are competitors and have every intention of putting a bold product on the racetrack for the fans at Le Mans. It’s a humbling opportunity — one that will present an exciting challenge over the next 15 months — but our team is ready.”
As if we needed another reason to be excited for Le Mans in 2023, with Ferrari, Toyota, Peugeot, Glickenhaus, Porsche, BMW and Cadillac all set to compete for outright victory. What a race it will be.