NASCAR Le Mans Entry Elicit Fairness Concerns by Toyota and Ford


Toyota and Ford were concerned about the NASCAR Le Man’s entry fairness. NASCAR announced in March that it would compete in the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2023 with its new NextGen stock car, which debuted in the Cup Series this season.

According to NASCAR, IMSA, and the ACO, a NextGen Cup car will compete at Le Mans in 2023, likely to impact the Coca Cola 600 series. Garage 56 has been designated by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest for “technology of tomorrow and beyond” unique vehicles.

With four Cup Series teams, Hendrick Motorsports will race with a modified Next-Gen Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Chad Knaus, vice president of competition at HMS, is responsible for the Garage 56 project.

The Car

NASCAR, IMSA, and the ACO have announced that a Next Gen Cup car will compete at the enduro classic in 2023. You may have thought you had seen it all with the experimental Garage 56 category at Le Mans. This is one of the most peculiar motorsports season announcements.

One hundred years after the inaugural race, a 670bhp Chevrolet Camaro will compete against Toyota Hypercars, LMP2 machines, and Porsche and Ferrari GT thoroughbreds on the Mulsanne Straight.

We do not know much about the alterations beyond the fact that windshield wipers, mirrors, and lights will be installed.

It will be operated by the Hendrick Motorsports team, whose current Cup champion driver is Kyle Larson. It will enter the blue riband endurance race through the experimental Garage 56 category, which allows a car that already complies with the standard class rules to compete.

In an “exchange of classes” 50 years ago, NASCAR sent a Ford Torino and a Dodge Charger to compete at the Le Mans 24 Hours.

On the straightaways, the cars are known as “Les Deux Monstres” were said to pass other vehicles with ease, but they had trouble slowing down and changing lanes, causing them to lose the advantage they had gained.

MotorSport reported at the time that neither vehicle performed well at the event.

“An invitation was extended to the United States to send a handful of heavy NASCAR stock cars pounding around all-banked ovals and “All American” GT cars that adhere to the rules of the International Motorsports Association.”

“Farther back in the pack were two enormous NASCAR stock cars, but they were neither the newest nor the fastest, and they were too heavy, bulky, and difficult to control for a road course.” 

The Dodge Charger only completed one and a half laps before spectacularly seized its engine. In contrast, the Ford Torino ran until after midnight before its transmission failed and rendered it useless.

Unfair Advantage?

David Wilson, President of Toyota Racing Development, communicated the same sentiment to Toyota driver Denny Hamlin via social media shortly after the announcement. He was concerned about how much additional track time Hendrick would receive on road courses with the Next Generation car.

David expressed his desire for Gary Nelson and his Sports Car team to race a Chevrolet instead of a Toyota at Le Mans. I understand that a Hendrick Motorsports is required for sexual appeal.

Unfortunately, they are an active participant in the sport and will bring a version of the car we race every Sunday to Le Mans. In addition, testing will almost certainly require hundreds or thousands of hours.

It is difficult not to believe that they will find a solution. But, now, NASCAR has done a great deal to calm people’s fears.

Wilson stated that Toyota and Ford were not a part of the initial announcement but that NASCAR would clarify the project in the future.

Wilson stated that we would be able to watch every test, and every time that car was on track, we would know what happened. We have been assured that we will access all information and be invited to all tests.

On June 12, 1976, Bill France brought stock cars to Le Mans for the first time. After striking a deal with the event’s organizers, he took this action.

In the new Grand International class, two NASCAR racecars competed. Richard Brooks and Dick Hutcherson drove a Ford Torino owned by Junie Donlavey. Hershel McGriff owned and operated a Dodge Charger.

A representative for Ford Performance stated that the company prefers to speak with NASCAR behind closed doors.

NASCAR worked with the OEM partners and teams, including those other than Chevrolet and Hendrick, to ensure that the 2023 Garage 56 project is competitively balanced across NASCAR and assists each OEM and the sport as a whole, according to a NASCAR spokesperson. NASCAR believes that this project will assist them in enhancing all of their operations.

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