The centenary Le Mans was always going to be one to remember. Every manufacturer was vying to have their moment in the spotlight at the iconic event but there was a dark horse there (and no we’re not talking about the new Mustang). Entered in garage 56, the Chevrolet Camaro NASCAR was in a class of its own, reserved for innovative cars. Even though it wasn’t competing for a podium spot, the team grafted hard to get the car ready for the race and they made it across the finish line in 39th place.
Finishing any endurance race like the 24 hours of Le Mans is a huge achievement but doing it in an American muscle car and bringing the world of NASCAR to Europe took it to a new level. The team’s goal was to complete the race, no matter what it took. The car did incredibly well until drivetrain issues later in the race meant the Camaro had to be nursed through to the finish.
Piloted by Jenson Button, Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller, the Camaro was backed by experienced drivers to make it through a challenging race. Nearly half of the field didn’t finish thanks to wet conditions but the NASCAR entry crossed the line in one piece. The Camaro was a ZL1 NASCAR Cup car that was tweaked for Le Mans. Overall, weight was cut by 500lbs (227kg), headlights and rear lights were added, wider wheels and tyres and, of course, an impressive aero kit.
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It’s been a whirlwind watching the overwhelmingly enthusiastic response to the NASCAR entry so it’s likely this isn’t the last we’ll see of the Camaro. Whilst it doesn’t look like NASCAR will come to Europe anytime soon, showing what this car was capable of with a few tweaks put it on the stage in front of a completely different audience. With ongoing talks about taking NASCAR to Canada this could be the start of its world domination.
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