Photo courtesy of NASCAR

NASCAR will be expanding their International Series presence in 2023 after the sanctioning body announced the launch of NASCAR Brasil Sprint Race, NASCAR’s first International series in South America.

NASCAR’s international presence will be expanded in 2023 after the sanctioning body announced the creation of NASCAR Brasil Sprint Race, the sport’s first sanctioned series in South America.

NASCAR Brasil Sprint Race will be joining NASCAR’s International division as the fourth international series to be sanctioned by NASCAR. NASCAR currently has three international series that are officially sanctioned: The NASCAR Mexico Series (founded in 2004), NASCAR Pinty’s Series (founded in 2007) and NASCAR Whelen Euro Series (founded independently in 2008 before joining NASCAR in 2012).

“NASCAR today announced the creation of NASCAR Brasil Sprint Race, the sanctioning body’s fourth international series and first in South America,” said NASCAR in their official announcement. “The series, which will begin competition in 2023, is a partnership between NASCAR and the GT Sprint Race series in Brazil.”

“NASCAR Brasil Sprint Race joins the NASCAR Mexico Series, NASCAR Pinty’s Series (Canada) and NASCAR Whelen Euro Series as the fourth international series racing under the NASCAR banner. In 2023, NASCAR racing will take place in 12 different countries on three continents.”

The announcement was made after the series signed a partnership deal with the existing GT Sprint Race series, echoing the deal that NASCAR made with Team FJ’s Racecar Euro Series to form NASCAR Whelen Euro Series in 2012. 

Coincidentally, GT Sprint Race was also formed in 2012 – Its founder is Thiago Marques, a veteran driver in Brazil’s Stock Car Pro Series. Promoting itself as a series that provides drivers with “A real race car at your fingertips”, GT Sprint Race is currently positioned as the second tier series within Brazil’s stock car racing scene.

GT Sprint Race originally raced hatchback-styled bodies that greatly resembled the Mitjet Series cars, but the series changed their looks in 2020 when they began to race Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang silhouette spaceframe racers that wouldn’t look out of place with the Next Gen cars used in the NASCAR Cup Series.

GT Sprint Race’s 2022 season featured nine rounds. Traditionally, each round featured two sprint races and each individual sprint race was scheduled for 23 minutes plus one lap. An overall champion is crowned at the end of the season, but there’s also an extra stake in play as there are two additional titles that the drivers can win in a season. 

The first is the Brazilian Championship title, which was contested in six rounds of the 2022 season. The other three rounds formed the Special Edition championship and rounds marked as Special Edition featured a different format: There are three races instead of two. The first two races were scheduled for 20 minutes plus one lap, while the third race was scheduled for 23 minutes plus one lap.

Just like NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, GT Sprint Race featured driver gradings in which the drivers are classified into three driver categories – PRO, AM, and PROAM. The drivers from each driver category will be contesting for the driver’s title of their own category while also battling for the overall championship, echoing the structure that existed in EuroNASCAR with the Trophy classifications.

Unique to GT Sprint Race is the fact that a two-driver team can contest for the championships as a single entry. Unlike in EuroNASCAR where the drivers contested for the overall championship in their own division(s), a two-driver combination can be crowned as the champion if they were racing for the entry that was crowned as the overall champions.

“NASCAR is an iconic American sport, and we are honored to join forces to create the NASCAR Brasil Sprint Race,” said Carlos Col, General Partner of NASCAR Brasil Sprint Race. “GT Sprint Race has delivered exciting racing to fans since 2012 and this partnership will help take it to the next level with the introduction of more NASCAR-style racing, including future races on oval tracks. This is an historic day for motorsports in Brazil, and one that will benefit race fans across the country.”

Brazil, a country with a strong motorsport culture, has had several notable talents that competed in NASCAR over the past twenty years. The most notable driver is the inaugural Formula E champion Nelson Piquet Jr., who won three races – two in Trucks and one in Xfinity – during his three-year stint as a full-time NASCAR competitor. 

Other notable names included Miguel Paludo, another former full-time competitor in NASCAR that has recently made a name for himself as JR Motorsports’ road course ringer, and two-time IMSA champion Christian Fittipaldi, who ran a part-time schedule with Petty Enterprises in 2003.

EuroNASCAR also had previously featured Brazilian drivers in the field. Names such as Felipe Rabello and Adriano Medeiros were able to win races in the ever-competitive EuroNASCAR 2 drivers, while Marconi Abreu became a popular driver during his two-and-a-half year stay in the sport before he was forced to retire in the middle of the 2018 season due to a cancer diagnosis that he, thankfully, has recovered since. 

“Brazil is a vibrant country, rich in motorsports culture and community, and the perfect location for our first series in South America,” said Chad Seigler, Vice President of NASCAR’s International division. 

“NASCAR Brasil Sprint Race will allow us to showcase the exciting side-by-side racing that defines NASCAR while giving Brazilian race fans a series to which they feel connected. It is our hope and intention that this series also opens more pathways for the country’s best drivers, mechanics and engineers to advance to NASCAR’s national series in the United States, the worldwide pinnacle of stock car racing.”

The schedule for the 2023 NASCAR Brasil Sprint Race will be announced at a later date. According to Sports Business Journal’s Adam Stern, NASCAR is aiming for the NASCAR Brasil Sprint Race to host races on ovals in the future.

Stern also revealed that NASCAR wants to eventually provide their International division championships with a common chassis that each series can use as part of the sport’s ambition to form a global championship in the future.

Disclaimer: Unless noted on the photo, all photos used in this article are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard and GT Sprint Race.

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