(This is part one of a three part series)
With the announcement last week that former Nationwide Series director Joe Balash would become the new NASCAR International Competition Liaison NASCAR has made it clear that they will continue to market and race their cars and trucks outside of the United States. Further growing the sport we all love. I want to take a look at where NASCAR is and could be headed in the future with their international affairs but before I get into that I want to take a look back at where NASCAR has already been outside of the USA.
The Land Down Under
If you ask most casual fans when the first international NASCAR races were they would probably direct you to the three years of races in Japan, first at the Suzuki Circuit, then at the Twin Ring Motegi. But in fact NASCAR’s first international racing was done in the late 80’s in the land down under. The Goodyear Nascar 500 at the Thunderdome. The Thunderdome is a 1.1 mile race track on the grounds of the Cadler Park Raceway. The first race held there on February 28th 1988 and was won by Neil Bonnett. The field was a mix of NASCAR regulars and local stars. The NASCAR regulars included Bonnett, Bobby Allison, Dave Marcus, Hershel McGriff, Kyle Petty, and Micheal Waltrip. To see the complete finishing order CLICK HERE The race was a hit with those who ran it, in fact many of them came back that December to run in the Christmas 500. Morgan Shepard won that race with Sterling Marlin running second and Harry Gant 3rd. For the complete finishing order of that race CLICK HERE A third race was ran the following December, the NASCAR 400, it was won by Terry Labonte. CLICK HERE for the finishing order of that race.
I found some pretty cool video footage on youtube of the first race, check it out!
Here are the other parts to the race.
This video is from youtube user wildbeemer’s page. CLICK HERE to see more of his cool, rare NASCAR footage!
Although according to Wikipedia NASCAR racing continued in Australia until around 2000 under the authority of AUSCAR(Australian Stock Car Auto Racing) information on it is hard to find. A problem I will address in the second part of this three part series.
The House Of The Rising Sun
In 1996 NASCAR announced that it would bead to the Suzuka Circuit for a 100 mile non-points race that November. The first race featured NASCAR’s biggest names including eventual race winner Rusty Wallace, along with Dale Earnhardt Sr., Jeff Gordon, Terry Labonte, Ernie Irvan, Dale Jarrett, and more. For a complete run down from that race CLICK HERE. Nascar went back in 1998 but with less star power. Mike Skinner would win that race. CLICK HERE for the complete run down.
Here is some video footage from the two race.
1997, this is the complete race
In 1998 NASCAR gave up the Japanese road course for a more familiar oval. The Twin Ring Motegi, a 1.549 mile oval, would play host to the third race in Japan, the Coca-Cola 500. The oval would again bring the star power to Japan. Race winner Mike Skinner, along with Jeff Gordon, Jeremy Mayfield, Rusty Wallace, Jeff Burton, Bill Elliot, Sterling Marlin, Micheal Waltrip, Kenny Wallace, Darrell Waltrip all took place in the race. The race would also be the first time that Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Dale Earnhardt. Jr. raced on the same track. CLICK HERE for a complete field rundown.
Here is some video footage of the last four laps of the race, more footage can easily be found on youtube.
NASCAR would return in 1999 under the “Winston West” banner. The race was without any Cup regulars and would be the last trip to Japan. CLICK HERE for the results of that race.
Canada, Mexico, and More…
After Japan NASCAR was pretty quiet on the foreign front. In 2006 the purchased the long running CASCAR series which runs in Canada renaming it the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series. In 2006 they also started the NASCAR Toyota Series in Mexico. In early 2012 they announced they would sanction the Racecar Euro Series as a official “NASCAR Touring Series”. We will cover more on these three divisions and where NASCAR may be going in part two of this three part series next week! Stay tuned!
“Restrictor Plates Are Off” is simply a weekly opinion column shared each week with the viewers of JDSMotorsports.com, a word press blog. We are not a professional media outlet nor do we pretend to be one. Just a NASCAR fan who enjoys sharing opinions with our readers. This article is written by Jeff Southard. For questions or comments pleas either respond through the website or email firstname.lastname@example.org