Two-time outright Le Mans 24 Hour winner, World Endurance Championship champion and reigning WeatherTech Sportscar GTLM champion to boot, New Zealander Earl Bamber is going Nascar racing.
Bamber is going to tackle the Daytona road course on August 15 in the No 21 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro in the Xfinity series.
Bamber will become the first Kiwi to race in a top-level championship. The Xfinity Series sits just under the Nascar Cup Series, but sees a number of Cup Series drivers also race in it.
His Nascar tilt was rumoured earlier this year when a picture appeared on social media with Bamber's name on the side of RCR's race haulage truck.
"I've been wanting to race in Nascar most of my life. I love Nascar, it's so cool," said Bamber from the US. "I had a chance to have a go back in around 2016, but it didn't work out. This time around the chance has come about and we have the sponsorship to do one race at the moment.
"With the new generation car, they are talking about having more road course races so this is a chance to dip the toe in and see what it's like.
"This had been planned and in the pipeline since December last year and originally it was supposed to happen in May, but Covid put paid to that, and Porsche are happy for me to do the race."
Richard Childress Racing is no Johnny-come-lately team. It has a storied history having been in Nascar since the 1980s and still fields cars in the Cup and Xfinity Series. The team has won six Cup Series championships, all with Dale Earnhardt, as well as three Daytona 500s.
Childress himself has been watching Bamber's career progress for a number of years and has been impressed with his talent and commitment to racing.
"I've known Richard Childress for 13 years. We met when he came out to New Zealand to go hunting on dad's farm. I first went over there [US] when I was 17 and we've kept in touch ever since," said Bamber.
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Bamber is familiar with the Daytona track, having raced in the Rolex 24 hour, finishing on the podium four times. Motorsport fans with a passing interest in Nascar often think the cars are agricultural throwbacks to the early days of V8 Supercars. Nothing could be further from the truth.
"The engineering in the cars is so interesting. Some of the stuff they are doing is really good and they [RCR] have about 89 people in the engine department alone. They are much bigger than anything back home," said Bamber.
"It's that old Supercar debate and people say they [Nascar cars] must be horrible [to drive]. At the end of the day they still turn good lap times and are only 10 seconds a lap time slower than an RSR [Porsche].
"Therefore, they can't be terrible, although there's no downforce and apparently they are under-braked as well. They do have a lot of power and do a few things quite well.
"I reckon the car is going to be something like a TransAm, which I've driven before."
It's going to be an interesting time for Bamber's first run at a Nascar race. There's no practice or qualifying for the weekend's race, and all future Nascar races this season, in an effort to limit the exposure time for all personnel involved over the weekend.
"The first time I'll be driving the car on the weekend will be in the race on lap one. I'm looking forward to the challenge and being involved in a different style of racing.
"You can always learn something new and it's been a really cool adventure so far."