We interviewed the debuting Lithuanian driver Gustas Grinbergas in the newest edition of our Questions series as we asked his thoughts on driving the EuroNASCAR cars and his performance with Buggyra ZM Racing in the season opening round at Valencia.
Meet Gustas Grinbergas, the 19-year old Lithuanian driver who has become a rising motorsport star in his country. Having started his racing career through karting in 2010, Grinbergas graduated to car racing in 2019 when he was signed by Oregon Team to compete in European Le Mans Series’ LMP3 class.
Grinbergas achieved success immediately as the Oregon team scored a pole position for the first race at Paul Ricard and finished just outside of the podium, but it was otherwise a learning year for him as three retirements would hamper his title challenge that year.
His biggest claim of fame came later that year after he was signed by NASCAR Cup Series team Rick Ware Racing (RWR) to compete in Asian Le Mans Series. Partnering Cody Ware in the team’s No. 52 Ligier JS P2 in the LMP2 Am class, Cody and Grinbergas dominated the championship as Grinbergas scored two class wins and one podium finish to give RWR both the Drivers and Teams title in the LMP2 Am class.
Grinbergas continued to compete in various endurance racing championships – both virtual and in the real world – for the next two years before he was signed by the debuting Buggyra ZM Racing for this year’s season opening EuroNASCAR round at Valencia, making him the first Lithuanian driver to compete in NASCAR Whelen Euro Series’ top EuroNASCAR PRO class.
Following his successful debut outing at Valencia, World of EuroNASCAR has interviewed the talented youngster to give his thoughts on driving the EuroNASCAR cars and his performance at Valencia with Buggyra.
Have you tested the EuroNASCAR cars prior to Valencia or is it your first time driving the cars?
“I’ve tested with the EuroNASCAR car once last year and I really enjoyed it, but it was my first racing experience with these types of cars.”
What is the toughest thing that you have to learn from driving the EuroNASCAR cars?
“Probably the fact that you have to be a lot more easy with the car, you can easily overheat the tyres and that’s something you have to really manage over the race distance.”
What are the key differences in driving a EuroNASCAR car compared to the other race cars you have competed with?
“With prototypes and formula cars you are going into corners at a much higher speed, and you gain all of your lap time by trusting the downforce and going in at crazy speeds, with the EuroNASCAR car you’re focusing on the exits, that means a more slow and calm entry, which also helps keep the tyres cool and as early as possible back on throttle to have the best exit speed.”
This one is more of a curiosity question, but prior to your EuroNASCAR debut have you learned some information about stock car racing during your time racing with Rick Ware Racing in the Asian Le Mans Series?
“Obviously I was interested in how NASCAR works and it was very intriguing, that’s why I started my journey to NASCAR as I believe it’s one of the coolest and purest forms of motorsport.”
How is the experience of working with the Buggyra ZM Racing team at Valencia?
“The team was great, obviously it was a debut for the team and me, so there was a lot of stuff we had to figure out, but we were on the right track the whole weekend and kept improving from one session to the next.”
Do you think there’s extra pressure for you at Valencia as a driver that is making his debut in the series (and with a debuting team too)?
“I think it’s exactly the opposite, nobody expects a team and driver debut combo to work, so we can only do well, and I think we punched well above what anyone else expected.”
What moment is your highlight during your debut EuroNASCAR appearance?
“It was cool to stand on the podium, but to be honest I loved the racing, being able to follow close and go side by side for the whole lap sometimes was incredible, so both races would be my highlight of the weekend, and obviously going 7 places up from where I started in both races.”
Do you have plans to compete in EuroNASCAR in the near future?
“The plan at the moment was to do only one race, but never say never right?”
Disclaimer: Unless noted on the photo, all photos used in this article are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Klemen Sofric / Stephane Azemard.