World of EuroNASCAR takes a look back at the life of Nathalie Maillet, director of Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps and a pioneer of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, following the news of her tragic passing yesterday.

The motorsport community was shocked yesterday after news broke out that Nathalie Maillet, CEO and director of Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, was tragically killed at her home in Gouvy, Belgium. She was 51 years old.

“It is with great sadness that the team of the Spa Francorchamps circuit have been informed of the death of Nathalie Maillet, CEO,” said Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on their official announcement. “On this very sad day, the whole staff wish to present their most sincere condolences to Nathalie’s family and friends. The Circuit, but also motor racing, has lost today a passionate woman, strong in her convictions and always looking to the future.

Reports from Belgian sport publication DH les Sports +, who first broke the news of the events, stated that she, along with a lawyer from Brussels, was murdered by her husband Franz Dubois, who killed himself shortly after.

“I was warned, around 2:30 am, by the police, that a double murder, followed by a suicide, had been committed in this house in the rue de Houffalize,” said mayor of Gouvy Véronique Léonard to DH les Sports +.

Maillet, who grew up in a family of racing drivers, has had a lifetime passion for motorsport but initially she didn’t have the financial capabilities to compete in racing. As a result, she instead followed her other passion in architecture and earned a degree in architecture from University of London.

Through her professional work as an architect, Maillet was able to gather the funds she needed to begin her racing career. Starting her career at the old age of 33-years old, she enjoyed a 10-year long career as a racing driver where she competed in various racing categories, including a three-year stint in NASCAR Whelen Euro Series as one of the pioneer drivers in the early years of the series.

One of the first female drivers to compete full-time in the series, Maillet initially competed in the top EuroNASCAR PRO class as the owner-driver of the Racing Club Partners team in 2012 and 2013 before she made the step down to EuroNASCAR 2 in 2014 after RCP merged with the famed Marc VDS Racing Team on what turned out to be Marc VDS’ sole year in the sport.

In her three-year stint in EuroNASCAR Maillet started a total of 32 races – 22 in PRO and 10 in EN2 – and scored a total of 4 Top-10 finishes with a best championship finish of 12th, a feat she achieved in all three of her full-season campaigns in the sport.

Maillet’s cumulative number of starts was the highest for a female driver in EuroNASCAR until Arianna Casoli – now the record holder for the most starts in EN2 – started her 33rd career race in 2018, although she still holds the record for the most starts made by a female driver in the top class.

Maillet (bottom row, fourth from the left) on the inaugural EuroNASCAR race in the NASCAR era on 2012

“Our thoughts are with Nathalie and her family. A great lady of motorsport has left us,” said Euro Series founder, CEO, and President Jerome Galpin on social media.

“It is with high sadness that I have just learned of the death of Nathalie Maillet today,” said RDV driver Ulysse Delsaux on social media. “I cannot believe what happened in particular, I have particularly good memories with you Nathalie during my first season in European NASCAR in 2014.”

Having retired from on-track competition at the end of the 2014 season, Maillet helped Circuit Zolder to earn a spot in the Euro Series calendar as the main organizer of the American Festival Finals before she was unanimously elected as Spa-Francorchamp’s new director and CEO in June 2016.

During her time as Spa’s director, she oversaw a large-scale project to modernize the track’s safety and facilities – reportedly costing 80 million Euros – to fit the latest homologation requirements set by both the FIA and the FIM to attract more international series to the historic venue.

Despite setbacks such as Anthoine Hubert’s fatal crash in 2019 and the flooding at June that neccesitated repairs to the track’s facilities, the results of Maillet’s modernization project has led to the World Rallycross Championship adding Spa as one of their rounds in 2019 and FIM’s Endurance World Championship is scheduled to bring motorcycle racing back to Spa with the track’s addition to their calendar in 2022.

“My thoughts are with Nathalie’s family, her parents, her loved ones and her teams,” said Melchior Wathelet, President of Circuit Spa-Francorchamps. “I know how much this news will upset our teams and I would like to offer my sincere condolences to the entire Circuit team on behalf of the entire Board.”

“Today we are losing a highly respected lady, a true leader who will be greatly missed. Nathalie had become the face of the Circuit, she embodied the passion for racing that we all share.”

Disclaimer: Unless noted, all photos used in this article are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard.

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