Yep, you read that right—a NASCAR stock car will enter the 24 Hours of Le Mans next year. The initiative will be handled through IMSA's Garage 56 initiative, where experimental or non-homologated cars are allowed to enter the famed twice-around-the-clock event. And in case you're wondering, a NASCAR racer has been fielded at Le Mans before, though it was last done in 1976.
Specifically, the car will be a Hendrick Motorsport-ran Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.
The announcement was made during a press conference at the Le Mans Ballroom overlooking Sebring International Raceway, where IMSA's 12-hour endurance event will be run this weekend. Chad Knaus, Hendrick Motorsports' vice president of competition, will be overseeing the entry.
To be clear, the Garage 56 entry is in a class of its own, and it's meant to help manufacturers and teams test out new cars, fuels, or vehicle designs. Because of that, the Hendrick Chevrolet won't be vying for a podium position against Hypercar prototypes, though it will still have a scored result.
NASCAR President Steve Phelps said in the press conference that the car will be different from the Next Gen vehicle we've seen thus far. That makes sense—after all, it'll need lights as the Circuit de la Sarthe where the 24-hour race takes place is unlit. The driver lineup for the Hendrick team, as well as any modifications to the base car including drivetrain changes, will be announced later.
The 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans will be the centennial celebration of the historic event, and while everyone's surely excited to check out the new top-level Hypercars that'll be racing there, something tells me us Americans will have an equally close eye on this Camaro. All told, it will be an even more interesting 24 hours than most.
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