If you've attended the Brands Hatch round of the DTM during the past couple of seasons, or followed Stephane Ratel's World GT package, you may have come across the Racecar Euroseries.
It began as a French domestic championship in 2009, the brainchild of a NASCAR nut looking to bring American-style stock car racing to our continent using his own brand of V8 grunter, specially designed to 'turn left' on European race circuits.
The series has steadily gained momentum, backed by the French motorsport federation (FFSA), but organiser Jerome Galpin pulled off a major coup last year by gaining official support from NASCAR.
The newly renamed Euro Racecar NASCAR Touring Series has thus become the first European championship to be officially sanctioned by the US organisation.
This means more exposure for the series in the States, and, Galpin hopes, greater opportunity for Europeans to be known (and hired) by NASCAR teams.
The 2013 championship kicks off at Nogaro on Easter weekend, and this time the title-winner's prize is a full season in next year's NASCAR K&N Pro Series in the States, further cementing Galpin's ladder concept.
Having worked hard to establish his concept as a credible first step for Europeans trying to chase the American dream, Galpin's next aim is to attract more teams and drivers from outside his native France.
After sampling the concept in a test last February, AUTOSPORT was given the chance to contest the DTM-supporting Brands Hatch rounds in May.
Drivers in Euro NASCAR are split into two groups - Elite (for professional or semi-professional drivers) and Open (for amateurs) - with drivers from each class sharing a car.
AUTOSPORT's #6 Ford Mustang made an inauspicious start, thanks to my co-driver Anthony Garbarino shunting heavily at the exit of Druids in free practice.
Some excellent repair work by our Rapido Racing team had the car fixed in time for qualifying, though, and AUTOSPORT set fifth fastest time in its wet session. That put us right in the thick of the action for our first race.
As you can see, AUTOSPORT's NASCAR debut was pretty wild, with the two cars ahead on the grid (Alain Grand in the McDonald's liveried Dodge Charger, and Simon Escallier in the Kyle Busch lookalike M&Ms Chevrolet Camaro) knocking 10 bells out of each other before the start!
After winning a tight battle for third with Grand and Open championship leader Martin van Hove, AUTOSPORT got to stand on the podium at the end of the race.
Spraying the champagne was a special experience - in no way spoiled by forgetting to remove my hat for the French national anthem!
The second race for each class is run as one combined 45-minute 'enduro' with a mandatory two-minute pitstop in the middle to swap drivers.
The Elite racers kick off, before handing over to their Open counterparts, who race on to the finish. Garbarino finished his race mid-pack in 12th, before relaying AUTOSPORT back into the action.
AUTOSPORT managed to scythe through to fourth in this race, despite a hairy moment at Graham Hill Bend and spending a long time stuck behind the #44 Dodge Charger of Tanguy Ide.
No champagne celebrations for me this time, but there is a podium finish for Rapido Racing team-mate owner/driver Joaquin Gabarron, who took third in another typically wild and frantic race.
Galpin's baby is still in its infancy, but there's no doubt he has created an interesting spectacle, with exciting racing, well-turned-out cars, and an increasingly strong roster of drivers (the likes of ex-Spanish Formula 3 and European Hillclimb champion Ander Vilarino, former World Touring Car Championship and GP2 podium finisher Javier Villa, Aussie F3 ace James Winslow, and ex-Renault Megane Trophy title winner Dimitri Enjalbert all competed at Brands).
NASCAR is paying attention, which is piquing the curiosity of more European teams and drivers. The star of the Euro Racecar NASCAR Touring Series is young, but most definitely on the rise.
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