Ever want to see your favourite non-American racing driver in the NASCAR Cup Series? That’s what Trackhouse Racing Team is aiming to bring to life.
On Tuesday, the team announced the launch of PROJECT91 which intends to help bring international drivers into NASCAR. Such drivers will compete in the #91 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and serve as a team-mate to Ross Chastain and Daniel Suárez.
According to team owner Justin Marks, the Next Gen car provides the best chance for drivers outside of stock car racing to break in. The seventh-generation vehicle, introduced for 2022, takes inspiration from touring car and sports car divisions like the Supercars of Australia and IMSA, meaning they are more responsive on road courses that have defined motorsport since the beginning. Road courses have also seen an increase in recent years after long having just two.
“PROJECT91’s mission is to activate the intersection point of NASCAR racing and global motorsport culture,” said Marks “I truly believe the NexGen car represents an opportunity for NASCAR to enter the global professional motorsport conversation. We now have a race vehicle with international technological relevance where world-class drivers from other disciplines can compete at NASCAR’s highest level without the steep learning curve that the previous generation cars required.
“Vehicle advancements used in other forms of motorsports, such as, diffusers, independent rear suspension, the sequential gearbox, and other more common components, have resulted in a platform much less reliant on intimate proprietary stock car knowledge, which has historically made any transition to NASCAR difficult.
“With the formation of PROJECT91, Trackhouse has opened the door for global champions while beginning the process of scaling into an internationally recognised racing brand.”
Before anyone starts suggesting the likes of Daniel Ricciardo or Lewis Hamilton doing a one-off, keep in mind that their employers would need to sign off on such a start and a date that does not clash with their main series’ schedules. Nevertheless, bringing in drivers outside the United States or stock cars would certainly bring new attention to the sport. A similar approach is being taken by ARCA and part-time Cup operation Team Stange Racing, who plans to field a Cup car for ex-Formula One driver Tarso Marques and has signed Formula 3 racer Matteo Nannini to its development programme.
Specific drivers and races were not immediately revealed, though the team intends to début the programme during the 2022 season.