Jérôme Galpin, part 1 A promising season!

Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard

Founder and president of Team FJ, a team originally focused mainly on the discipline of the rally, Jérôme Galpin is the pioneer of NASCAR in Europe since 2009. Organizer and president of this championship, he received us at his home in Saint-Denis-sur-Loire near Blois at the headquarters of Team FJ to answer some questions on the eve of the first round of the championship which will be held on April 13th and 14th in Spain on the circuit of Valencia.

Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard

We are a few weeks from the beginning of the season, what will be the stakes ?

We have a beautiful season that is preparing with more than thirty cars on the grid that will be not only quantitative but also qualitative. We will have the return of Ander Vilariño (3 times Elite 1 champion) with the Racing Engineering team, we also have Jacques Villeneuve that is joining us this year, Alon Day will defend his crown, Frédéric Gabillon as well as all the young people who push behind . This promises us an incredible year in terms of competition in Elite 1. We also have a very nice grid in Elite 2 with Florian Venturi, Nicholas Risitanos coming back and newcomers who will be very fast.

And for you as an organizer what will be the stakes ?

For us the idea, and as we already did it with the serie, it’s always to progress. This is going to be our eleventh season, we want each season to be better than the last and we always succeed for 10 years. This year, we have improved the car with a new aero package, we have new tires and new suspensions. The teams will almost have to start from a blank page and I think there may be plenty of surprises at the start of the season. We had about the same tires for 5 or 6 years, the suspensions were 3 years old. Everyone had their datas so it will be more complicated for the teams who will have to work on it.

On the 22nd and 23rd June, the ALL-STAR TIME ATTACK will take place in France, can you tell us more about the format that is planned ?

The idea is to do something nice and get closer to the fans. It will be a demonstration that will take place in the streets of Chinon, there is a beautiful event that is organized every year (Chinon hosts since a few years the Grand Prix of Tours renamed Chinon Classic) where we are in the heart of the medieval city. With the hazards of the calendar, we did not have a scheduled event in France. This will be an opportunity for the fans to access the edge of the track for free, to meet us and see NASCAR in the streets, it will be great!

With the end of the the partnership with Tours Speedway, is it worrying for motorsports in France ?

No, the motorsports is doing pretty well, we see every day the passion unleashed for the motorsports. These are somewhat unusual conditions on a city scale like Tours, which are full of contingencies. We, our job and what we love is the sport, so when I get phone calls to talk about politics, it’s not our thing and we do not want to go in there. We have done beautiful things and we try to see with the Parc Expo how we can make the most of this tool.

Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard

Venray signs his big come back this year, are you considering the arrival of a second oval in the years to come and if so in what conditions ?

There are few ovals in Europe, it pleases most teams and drivers already presents but it scares those who have never done it. We must keep the mix, it will never be similar to the United States because I think that the European culture, even for fans, is not necessarily oval type but we can have in the future 10 to 30% oval in the calendar. We will not go on the fast ovals, it requires a lot of security and the idea is not to take our pilots without having absolutely everything that is done in terms of safety (like the safer barriers) and without they have the experience of rolling on fast ovals. We see it in the United States, fun is also a lot on short tracks and road circuits.

The presence of Bobby Labonte was a real media boost last year for the championship, will we have the chance this season to see a former Nascar Cup Series driver ?

Bobby Labonte is working to find partners so that he can come back because he enjoys the serie and we are very glad to have him. I have a lot of calls from drivers and Cup champions who would be interested to come and do a one or two races in the series. We will also have other American drivers who will be announced soon.

Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard
Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard

Do we have a chance to see a Nascar Whelen Euro Series driver race in the USA this year ?

We took more than thirty drivers on different events in the United States. Anthony Kumpen drove to Daytona until Xfinity, Alon Day must be the only driver outside of North America to have raced in all three national NASCAR series. He announced his return to the series. He will have a complete program in Europe and the idea is to continue to do events in the United States so we should see him again in Xfinity or Cup. Some of our drivers have asked me to make connections to try to set up programs. We are lucky to have a break this summer so it opens the possibility to our drivers to go to the United States.

Interview of Jérome Galpin on the 29th March 2019 directed by Guillaume Hesnault