NASCAR now has regular competing series in Canada, Europe, Mexico and most recently added one in Brazil and has seen a growing number of international drivers compete in its American-based national series, both as regular competitors and part-time ventures.
Never, however, has NASCAR held a points-paying race of its premier Cup series outside the continental United States but that day seems to be drawing ever-closer.
“For years we said we want to go outside the U.S. and race, and you’ve seen us move from the messaging of it’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when,” Chad Seigler, NASCAR vice president and chief international officer told Motorsport.com.
“I would tell you that we’re leaning even closer now to, ‘Yes, we are going.’ I feel confident we’re going to be there sooner than later.”
Past international events
NASCAR has held races outside the U.S. borders before.
The Truck Series has held races in Canada in the past and what is now the Xfinity Series has run points-paying races in both Montreal and Mexico City.
The Cup series’ only previous international experience, however, was a series of non-points exhibitions run in Japan between 1996 and 1998, as well as one in Australia in 1988.
There are even more reasons for NASCAR’s optimism the timing is right to hold a Cup race outside the U.S. as part of its regular schedule of events.
NASCAR’s Garage 56 entry in last year’s Le Mans 24 Hours well-received by fans, its NASCAR Whelen Euro Series events are commanding large crowds, and the sport gained a big spotlight when three-time Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen won last year’s inaugural Chicago street race in his first series start.
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#24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 of Jimmie Johnson, Mike Rockenfeller, Jenson Button
“When you go to a place in Europe, when you go to a place like Brands Hatch (for a NASCAR Euro race weekend) and you see that we had 43,000 people in the stands, that tells you that there’s a passion for our style of racing,” Seigler said.
“We are actively engaged with multiple markets right now. We’ve been close and we feel like we’re close for the very near future. What makes us feel good is that these are not one-way discussions, it’s any market we’ve spoken to, there has been excitement on both sides.
“Sometimes there are things out of your control like logistics and the calendar, but that’s…